Does Giving & Receiving Gifts cause anxiety for You?

This morning I ran across a post in an ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) group Im in & thought it might be helpful for someone here. Grateful for all of the comments that I've left anonymous.

The original post was:

"My mom has this thing where receiving presents makes her furious. Last Christmas a friend gave her a small box of homemade cookies. She was really angry about it and insisted I take them. So weird. Sometimes I get angry when someone gives me a present."


"Is it because you guys feel guilty/bad that you didn't know and don't have a present planned for them? Does this happen if you exchange presents or if it is a surprise and you don't have something for the other person?"

Is it "because it makes you feel you 'owe' them and are in debt? .... It took me forever to receive gifts without overthinking it. And maybe we think the person has alterior motives (we do not trust). It can be so many things I suppose."

"Christmas was so traumatic for me as a child, I just hate receiving gifts. I also know it must show on my face because I get questions about not liking the gift etc."

"whenever i gave my mom a present she would always say i dont want presents i want this and this and it always hurt me letting me down. I wanted to see her happy, not serious & rejecting."

"I’ve always felt the same way. I’d spend a good amount of money on my mom for her to not really want things and not use them. I was thinking it would make her happy."

"Ya, it's a huge rejection, no loving connection, such a pity."

"It’s a deep feeling and belief of being undeserving."

"I can be the same way but I try not to get angry about it. I do get a little annoyed maybe, but trying to keep others from feeling guilty about my issue. I think for me it’s a sense of pressure that I have to appreciate or recognize the gift. I would enjoy it so much more if there were no expectations. I love to gift to others, but I really am hard to gift. ☹️"

"Some people do not know how to accept gifts. It makes them uncomfortable because they feel they don’t deserve it."

"Errr, yes, so many layers to this. Feelings of not deserving when someone gives me something nice and also anger if it's something I don't like but "should be grateful for" as "it's the thought that counts" (lack of thought more like). Shame that the whole giving and receiving of presents was so loaded in my family and that I still dont always get it right.

"Christmas is a nightmare- I used to ask friends not to buy for me as I didn't want the obligation of having to buy something for them in return and honestly dont want to be given chocolates or scented candles that I dont want or like but have to pretend I do. Sadness that something that ideally comes from the heart is a minefield in reality. Annoyance with my sister who makes a point of making it known if she doesn't like a gift, but if anyone she gave a present to behaved rudely and failed to make her feel good. Rejection.

But even after all this nothing beats receiving a thoughtful gift given with love even if it does take me a while to let it really land with me."

"Just smile and say thank you, because really it is about giving...and being grateful. My opinion only."

"Getting gifts gives me a lot of anxiety & occasionally resentment. I need to explore why. I do think it has something to do with trauma."

"Sadly, so many times, growing up, I felt such disappointment, because of my dysfunctional family disappointing me on all holidays, that now, I am pre-wired to crash on all gift - giving. Thankfully, at 62, I can see this ahead of time. Repeat... It’s ok. It’s really ok. I really am going to be fine. I am so much better today, than yesterday. Stay strong."

"I too get extremely anxious and inwardly angry when receiving gifts and I never understood why...

"I too get extremely anxious and inwardly angry when receiving gifts and I never understood why... maybe a deep rooted uneasiness that I truly don't deserve anything nice and now you're mocking me trying to make me think I am worth it and why did you waste your money and time and energy?? But I always try my best to put on a happy face and pretend I love it and say "you really shouldn't have"... especially with my kids... But I do appreciate it, I really do appreciate the thoughts. My childhood was soo utterly messed up and when I give the simplest example, even those who are in ACOA are shocked... it was THAT bad and traumatic that it will take a lot of work for me to dig in and learn why this triggers me soo much. I hate Christmas soo much but I go along and pretend for everyone else's sake. I hope I'm good at pretending... I certainly try."

"Giving is the same as receiving. Some here are practicing 'as if' they appreciate the gift & that is great. That's a beginning on learning to receive. If you love to give then learn to receive. You'll bless others with your gratitude."

"Your reaction may be because you saw you Mom do the same thing. It has become habit because that was the norm in your home. You don’t have to let it be your normal."

"The whole gift thing is a minefield for me, so I stick to charitable donations now and I ask others to please do the same."

"I get anxious, because I feel I must then buy a gift, as an equal exchange... I have been told that sometimes, giving makes the giver happy, my accepting it is enough."

"Maybe gifts = control to her. That is why I am very cautious about them now."

"People who want to give too much, too soon, I watch carefully what they give and how they give it. I’ve learned to say “no thank you”when people want to give me things when it is about them and not me. Especially if they are the type that will use a gift to try and control me. A gift to make me “owe them” in some way."

"I’m still recovering from gaslighting. How do you discern when a gift is about ‘them?'"

"Gift giving and receiving involves so much social nuances that I totally understand how difficult it is, regardless if you're an ACOA. On the giving part there's the desire to make the recipient happy with what you've given. So the recipient is now in the position where before they even open the gift they know happiness or gratitude is expected of them. Plus they know their reaction is going to be seen right away by the gift giver so that creates pressure to perform. And that's just on the basic level."

"During Christmas and birthdays this expectation of having to perform in a socially acceptable way while receiving gifts is amplified. On Christmas we all give and receive so the pressure comes from both acts. Receiving is obviously harder because you want to please the other person with your reaction. On birthdays all the attention is on your performance opening gifts which adds stress."

"Now add in the ACOA desire to please with the deep fear of displeasing. Add the years of being expected to perform in a certain way with variable results from the other person which leads to bad memories of gifts not yielding the happiness or gratitude we are socially told to be expecting. Add the possibility that the recipient doesn't feel they are worthy of accepting gifts and therefore have had to fake the happiness and gratitude for many years. If they continue to feel that they don't deserve gifts while spending year after year of Christmases and birthdays having to carefully act like they do, and they get burnt out and start hating the entire act of gift giving and receiving. And you become angry."

"I think this is why, on top of family issues, the holidays are so friggen difficult. There are so many societal expectations on how you're supposed to act that it becomes aggravating and stressful. And that stress results in anger. And the cycle repeats each year."

"This is a good topic. I hadn't reflected back on it too much in my own life-but now hearing about your Mom and reading all the comments -it seems like gift giving can be a loaded situation in any family, but especially a dysfunctional one. Never mind not wanting to feel obligated to give the other person a gift back. That's annoying enough. But when you (or another person) gets that really crappy gift, or are regifted-it is hideous. My Dad actually gave my Mom a meat grinder one Christmas. It did not go well for him! She drank up a storm that night as well and we all paid a hefty price for his desire to buy her a gift for himself."

"I’ve never been able to accept gifts without anxiety."

"My mom shops as therapy for herself. She buys things just to buy them and then at Christmas has ridiculous amounts of gifts for everyone that aren’t specifically selected for that person - just generic stuff in every color and everyone gets one. Or random things from QVC but nothing selected for the receiver in mind. It makes me sick to see mountains of things she purchased without the money given to appear generous. But it’s really all about the shopping for her and maybe a little too about us owing it to her to be there for her because she’s done “soooo much” for us. "

Can you relate to any of these comments?

I can relate to many of them. My mom hated the holidays because she experienced OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and didn't want her house to get dirty. As an Inner Child Advocate I know that anger is very often the surface emotion and there are deeper emotions such as hurt, fear and shame and a whole host of others still living raw from childhood underneath.

What I know for sure is that how others react to giving or receiving gifts it’s definitely not about you. And vice versa, how you react isn't about them. It is about our own childhood programming about gifts and the meaning we gave it as children. We are all just brushing up against one another's inner child wounds.

If you are struggling unnecessarily about gift giving and receiving, please remember tapping is a great way to neutralize the emotional "sting"so often created in childhood, so you can go about your holidays in a more conscious and healthy way, however you decide to move forward.

However you wish to celebrate the holidays, or not, I wish you emotional freedom for today and the upcoming new year.

Childhood wounds are expensive... Emotional Freedom is priceless!



PS. Have you ever read the book The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman? It saved my marriage. According to Dr. Chapman, there are five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

I had family stuff happen as a child that made me dislike gifts & gift giving too. And in the quiz I am a 0 % gift person. The book might be insightful for you too. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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