A therapist’s guide to giving memorable gifts this International Women’s Day

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

As I was reading a research paper on gifts, I thought I would do some “research” myself and see what the internet holds for me in the “inspiration” department for International Women’s Day. Can you guess what I found?

A simple Google Search has redirected me to thousands of possible gifts I could quickly buy for women. And little to my surprise, like most other searches related to gift-choosing, the alternatives are focusing mostly on just…more things. There are also plenty of articles suggesting lists of gift ideas, and most of them focus on items such as goodie bags, jewelry, perfumes, makeup, and so on.

And knowing what I know about the human brain and mind, and seeing what I see as the top suggestions on Google, I am rather saddened to see the limited diversity in approaching not just women, but humans as a whole.

Here’s the thing:

The current way of celebrating International Women’s Day seems like an occasion of acknowledging women’s existence by giving them things, rather than gifting something that would show consideration of their inner selves. And whilst the day is supposed to celebrate women for who they are, the gifts focus on surface-level aspects of their identity as a woman.

The latter doesn’t say it’s bad buying something that a woman might like, it just encourages you to put things in a different perspective and see the woman for the whole world she carries within. (And not just women… but humans, generally speaking!)

What usually happens, is we go on our quest to find the gift, online or in stores. The process often becomes meticulous and a little overwhelming as we’re navigating this sea of gift possibilities. So we try to filter the options by following certain criteria, like someone’s lifestyle, hobbies, or overall preferences. And after some time, we finally decide upon a gift…THE ONE! And we feel it’s just right for the receiver until we soon find the receiver’s expression doesn’t really say that.

What’s most funny is that most of us have been on both ends of such a situation. So then why does the cycle continue? Where do things go wrong?

Well, when we choose a present we choose it based on how WE feel about it, not how we think the receiver will. And that’s where most things go wrong.

1. We choose something that we like and feel comfortable giving

2. We don’t focus on how the receiver will feel

3. We choose things based on what they “like”, not what they “are like”, which is a massive difference.

Choosing something that is an extension of their self and choosing something that matches their inner self and inner reality are rather different things.

Yes, someone might like a certain phone case, but they might feel conflicted buying it for environmental reasons. Yes, someone might like makeup, but they might go through a period where they are finally confident in going bare skin after years of battling acne. Yes, someone might want children and be bubbly around them, but they might be struggling to have one so that book on motherhood might be an insensitive gift. So is this possible gift you want to give matching someone’s inner reality? Their core self? Their values? Their love language (for partners)?

I remember a client once told me:

Every time my partner gives me a voucher at Christmas it just makes me feel like our marriage means little to her and that she doesn’t love me! It makes me question if she knows what I like, what I want, and most importanly how hurt I feel when receiving the voucher that just screams “I don’t want to bother!”

What often one partner, relative, or friend can feel like it’s a good present to give the other, it’s often not the case. Because the internal world of an individual reflects different beliefs and values.

So let me give you a little more help in choosing what to get for those dearest to you.

Now, we will get back to the old saying “Put yourself in their shoes”, by understanding how their mind and brain function when it comes to choosing things for themselves.

Firstly, understand that people buy/choose something because a part of their internal reality is triggered or reflected in a service or product. This means that each of us has a belief system with views, preferences, fears, pains, pleasures, desires, etc., and this system is being triggered when buying things.

As a result, people buy something for the following reasons: because it solves a problem, it provides a solution to an issue, it promises a transformation, it’s something that reflects the desires based on some insecurities they have, it helps them alleviate or eliminate some pain (physical or emotional).

Understanding this, put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand their internal world and their motivations for the things they would go for if they picked the gift themselves.

If something can resonate with their inner world, their pains, needs, struggles, and desires- then you’re on the right track.

Here are some prompts for reflection when picking this year’s gift:

1. What is something they are struggling with that you could help with/ book a service for?

2. Is there something they wanted to learn but didn’t get to?

3. Is there an experience you can book to help show the other person how special and beautiful they are? (especially for women who struggle with their self-esteem, or have undergone a tough period, a lot of changes, a divorce, surgery, gave birth, etc., it depends on the case)

4. What is something that would give them peace of mind at the moment? Can you invest in something that would take some work off their shoulders? What would that be? (you’re gifting them some peace of mind)

5. Has this person been postponing something for themselves due to other responsibilities? Can you help them break the cycle and do that something for themselves?

6. What gift would help the person self-sustain themselves long-term? Help them grow? Help them in their dreams? Help them in their business or at home?

7. Focus on their insecurities and compliment them with something that would empower them

Invest in things and experiences that would help the person grow, evolve, experience something beyond the daily routine. Make them feel seen, appreciated, heard. Give them something that they wouldn’t buy themselves because maybe they are in a situation where they can’t afford it or don’t think they deserve it. Give them the space and time they need to feel like themselves and help them discover themselves. Give them the course/class they never had the time to book, the praise they don’t often hear, and the compliments that they truly deserve.

We all want to be loved and cared for. These are universal human traits. Remember to make the receiver feel these things, feel they are loved and cared for. You would be surprised how many people don’t receive such simple signs of care and attention.

It’s what is being communicated with the gift that makes a person remember a gift- not the gift itself. It’s the emotion attached to the meaning, not the object itself.

So think about what you are communicating about your view of the other person, your view of your relationship with the other person, and who you are at the core. Is this still a good present?

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