Experiencing Holiday Gift Giving Anxiety
The holidays are here, and while others around you are excitedly spreading the cheer of meeting with friends and family, you are experiencing something else; something decidedly less festive — fear.
With anxiety in your life, it can shift the most joyful of events into periods of panic and times of terror. Your worry will be excessive and out of control. You will think and believe that no matter how hard you try, you will fail. Even worse, you think that others will judge, criticize and look down on you.
In this situation, your anxiety forms from gift-giving. Certainly, many find high levels of happiness and pleasure from giving gifts. You, on the other hand, always feel very uncomfortable and uncertain when gift giving. You may worry that:
- The person will not like the item.
- It will be too big or too small.
- It will be too expensive or too cheap.
- Their reaction won’t meet your expectations.
- They will already have the item.
Like in other situations, this level of anxiety only makes the experience worse. Rather than building motivation for picking a thoughtful present, your anxiety will be a crippling force. It will leave you unable to think of one appropriate gift for a special person in your life. The worry and anxiety become panic, and before you know it, the unwanted feelings are spreading throughout your life.
This only happens if you let it, though. This holiday season does not have to be like the last. This year, things can be different. Your gift-giving can go from painful to pleasurable. Here’s how:
Assess Your Status
How did your gift-giving go last year? What were the failures? Did you have any successes? What was the source of your anxiety?
Be sure to be fair and accurate in your reflection instead of only focusing on the times that things did not go as planned. With this information, you can begin to build an understanding of your thoughts, behaviors and feelings surrounding giving gifts. What symptoms are triggered? What makes them worse? Have these feelings always been present?
Set a Goal
Now that you know a bit about where you are at with gift-giving, where would you like to be? When you set a giving goal for this year, be sure to make it as realistic and attainable as possible.
It likely took you many years to develop this level of anxiety regarding presents, so completely reversing this trend in one year is improbable. Instead, consider this year an opportunity to make small improvements towards your ultimate goal. Additionally, it is impossible to pick the “perfect” gift for each person on your shopping list. What do you want to accomplish this year? Setting a reasonable goal will give you direction to work towards.
Talk Yourself Into It
Does a sense of dread and frustration begin to grow when the calendar turns to November, or does it wait until the wrapping paper is torn? Whenever it comes, that feeling of negativity will fuel negative thoughts.
Next page: how to be open, but not self-deprecating when it comes to giving gifts.