anxiety of receiving gifts

Are You Joyfully Receiving Gifts? Are You Really?


December is a month of giving and receiving and, whilst most people are stressed about giving, few pause to understand how strong the anxiety of receiving gifts is. Might sound funny and strange, but you’d be surprised by how much stress receiving actually puts on us.

Whether is about what we receive, whom from, how should we react, has he/she remembered what I want, is it nicer than what we’re gifting… And the list can go on and on and on. However, those are just triggers.


The real anxiety comes from much deeper roots, like shame, guilt or even frustration.


Anxiety Of Receiving Gifts Comes From…


Most of us grow up being told that in order to deserve receiving what we want, we must do something in return.  

Clean our room, take the dog out, receive good marks, behave, etc. Nothing comes for nothing, does it! Not even Santa! The feeling associated with that? Frustration.


Then there’s the situation where you are being told you are punching above your weight, that you are not worth what you are asking for.

Who do you think you are to even want something like that … you get the picture? The feeling associated with that? Shame.


And then there’s the lots of kids would be happy with an apple, others receive a beating and lots of other such examples.

The feelings associate with that? Guilt.


How Does Anxiety Of Receiving Gifts Work


The more often they are being repeated to us, regardless of the moment and/or the scenario, the associated feelings engrain deeper and deeper and stronger and stronger in our subconscious.

Until they become our natural response. In most cases we are completely unaware of it. Because it all started in our childhood when we were not equipped to deal with such situations and detach from the emotional burden that was being brought onto us.


As a result, many, many years later, we are unable to receive openly and gracefully, and to enjoy the gift, even though we might be quite good at seeming like we do.


Consciously we probably believe that we do, but in reality, we don’t, hence the pressure felt by others to buy gifts and the anxiety we feel in anticipation of opening gifts. That anxiety of receiving gifts is also transferred onto us buying gifts for others. Can you see how that’s a vicious circle?


How Can We Manage It


Stage 1

If you are unsure whether you are experiencing any negative emotions related to receiving, think of the Christmas morning and the moment of presents opening.


  • What do you notice?
  • Tension in your stomach?
  • Tightening of the shoulders?
  • Clenching of the jaws?
  • Slight headache?
  • Dizziness even? Chills?


Any of the above point to a negative charge about receiving.


Stage 2

  • Now go further with your observation and pay attention to what makes you feel more anxious.
  • What’s the actual gift?
  • Whom is it from?
  • Whether you’ll like it?
  • How should you react if you don’t like it?


The closer you get to the cause, the more intense the physical feelings are and that’s your clue. That’s what you need to explore further.


Stage 3

Go backwards to when you picked up all that negativity about receiving. Identify which emotion is it, shame, guild and/or frustration, and release it. The release only works if you go back to the time when it was onboarded. Otherwise, you keep carrying it with you subconsciously.


My Lesson


Those of you who read other posts of mine, already know that I grew up in communism. However, as grim as those time were, and they truly were, thanks to my father, I had a more privileged childhood than most of my school colleagues. Which made me give away lots of the sweets, fruits and other things I had, so that they could enjoy them too.


What seemed like a nice gesture, and it was a genuine one, cultivated inside me a strong feeling of shame and guilt for being different and for having more.


As a result, I became quite adamant about receiving gifts from other people than my family. I started being unable to save money, I would always make just enough to pass by and I always gave back tenth fold what I received.

It wasn’t until recently that I actually came to that realisation and became aware of how those emotional blockages played out in my life and of the extent of their negative impact on my life.

I encourage you to look into the emotions you associate with receiving and now is a really good time to o so. Probably the best, so that you fully enjoy Christmas and everything it has to give.


SparkYourBloom Today And Everyday!


Mihaela is a Cambridge certified executive coach who works with and advises board members, top-level executives and entrepreneurs seeking to excel in their career. Her client portfolio ranges from prestigious national to large international businesses.Her approach is focused on exploring personal and professional values, understanding aspirations, removing barriers and visualising the path to success. She hosted a top-ranking TV show and published two best-selling books dedicated to career success.

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