How many items do you have in your home that you don’t really like but you keep because you don’t want to offend the person who gave them to you?
People often write to ask me what they can do about unwanted gifts, especially from family members, who are likely to take offense if they let the item go.
I devoted a whole section to unwanted gifts in my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book and my advice is still the same. The best thing to do with unwanted gifts is to get rid of them. Things you really love have a strong, vibrant energy field around them, whereas unwanted items have uneasy, conflicting energies attached to them that drain you rather than energize you. They actually create an energetic gloom in your home. If you love an item, fine, but if you keep it out of fear and obligation, you are giving your power away. Every time you walk into a room and see it, your energy levels drop.
And don’t think that “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” will work. You can’t keep it in a cupboard or a storage unit and just bring it out when the person who gave it to you is due to visit. Your subconscious mind still knows you have it. If you have enough of these unwanted gifts around you, your energy network will look like a sieve, with vitality running out all over the place.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts. You can appreciate being given a gift without necessarily having to keep it. Try adopting a whole new philosophy: when you give something to someone, give it with love and let it go. Allow the recipient complete freedom to do whatever they want with it. If the thing they can most usefully do is put it straight in the trash or give it to someone else, fine (you wouldn’t want them to clutter up their space with unwanted gifts, would you?). Give others this freedom and you will begin to experience more freedom in your own life too.
A hilarious example of this was a beautiful cut crystal fruit bowl I once gave my mother when I was lightening my load in 1990 in order to move from the UK to Bali. I’d completely forgotten that it was she who gave it to me, many birthdays ago. Having read my book, rather than take offense, she was somewhat flattered to know I had liked it enough to keep it so long. The only comment she added was that it was a good thing that she only ever gave gifts of things she would like to receive herself.
Dare to be yourself
The bottom line with unwanted gifts is, ‘Whose life is it anyway?’ And the real issue beneath that, in most cases, is worrying too much what people think about you.
Here’s a liberating thought: What would you do differently in your life if you were to follow your own path instead of conforming to what you worry others may think? Would you have a different career? Would you dress differently? Would you live in a different place? Some people, when they ask themselves this question, discover they wouldn’t even be married to the person they married.
Remember, clutter is only a symptom. There are always deeper issues to look at beneath it, and this particular type can run very deep indeed. Letting go of a few things you’re storing to keep other people happy may seem like a small act in itself, but the ramifications can be huge. Being brave enough to work through it can open the door to wonderful new freedoms and a whole new life!
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2011, updated 2020
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