Friday, December 27, 2013

When You Don't Like a Christmas Gift…Distinguishing Between Receiving Love & Feeling Love

When you receive a Christmas gift, regardless if you like it or not, you are receiving an act of kindness and love. You are the recipient of love from someone else whose intention is to show care and consideration to your behalf.  

We probably don’t do it as much as we should, but we have to check ourselves when receiving holiday gifts. Our facial expressions, the way we say thanks, all of these require particular attention when we receive something that really wasn’t high on our list or feel useful to our everyday lives.

It makes me think about the difference between what it means to receive love and feel loved.

More often than not, we are consumed with feeling loved. This type of love is important because it’s tailored to meeting our needs and affirms who we are as people. When we feel loved, we don’t question our position with others and develop a sense of safety and stability. So feeling loved is not arbitrary or negatively selfish. What happens though, is that it does have some qualifiers. To love me is to….____________, (fill in the blank), _______________ (verb) and __________________ (example of what it means to love me). It’s sort of conditional in that it puts your needs at the center and asks others to comply. Again this is not bad, but is it the modality of love we should be using at all times, especially around the holidays when gift exchanges occur? How does feeling loved makes others feel, especially when they are trying to love you and you say – NO THANKS!

This past Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of learning the distinction between receiving love and feeling love.

I got into a disagreement with my mother during Thanksgiving, and in that moment, nothing mattered more in the world to me than having her understand my point. She didn’t have to agree with me, but I deeply needed her to understand my point of view, affirm it, and acknowledge that it had merit but that she disagreed.  She didn’t do that and I became very irate and out of character. It wasn’t pretty.  After I calmed down, she kept apologizing and telling me she loved me.

That was nice, but in that space, I wasn’t entirely receiving the love she wanted to give, I wanted to FEEL LOVED  on my own terms by being understood and affirmed. I realized in that moment, a BIG PART of making me feel loved, is to understand and affirm me.

I had to make a choice once I realized that my Mom wasn’t going to understand or affirm me. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to…that’s not how she was showing me love. I had to set my MAKE ME FEEL LOVED card down and just receive the gracious love that she was giving me. And by all means, it was great, because after showing out in embarrassing ways that could be shameful and guilt-ridden, she forgave me, did not judge me and loved me (along with rest of my family).
Receiving love from others you trust requires selflessness and more compassion from the human spirit. It sets aside one’s desires and is gracious enough to receive love. It’s not judgmental of “this isn’t good enough for me”  or “this won’t meet my needs”.  Now again, we shouldn’t run with scissors in receiving  any old type of love either.  If someone you trust is consistently loving you in ways that don’t leave you feeling loved, then there is an important conversation and a set of actions that need to happen. However if someone you trust misses the “I feel loved in this moment” card, but you know that they are showing you love in the best way they know how, it could be nice to love them back and receive it.

A gift receipt! Isn't that clever! 
Cause think about it…how do you feel when you give someone a gift and they don’t like it or use it? It could hurt your feelings because they rejected the love you were giving.

It’s just like Christmas. Sometimes we get gifts that make us feel loved and meet our needs. Other times we get gifts and we need to receive them in the spirit in which they were given. Receiving love from someone we trust deepens the love we have with that person, and in turn can make them feel loved.

My final thoughts…whoever thought of gift receipts is genius! The happy medium between feeling loved and receiving love lies in the space between accepting an act of kindness and translating that kindness into ways that can meet your needs. I prefer to give and receive gift receipts anytime I’m gifting.

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