Gifts Are Supposed To Be For The Recipient

Y'all may know that I am a reformed hoarder, and that it took years of work, both internal and external, to get to where I am today. I am proud of the progress I've made, and feel really good when I purge things now (whereas at first it was like pulling teeth and really stressed me out).

But after some frustrating experiences with some people, I came to a realization, and that's what I'd like to talk about today: sabotage masquerading as generosity.

So if you're a reformed hoarder like me or a minimalist of any stripe who went from "normal" western clutter to a more austere lifestyle, you've probably encountered some people who just didn't get it. But have you encountered people who actively tried to sabotage your efforts?

Oh, they would never overtly say so. In fact, they will paint it as "being generous" so that if you don't like it or get frustrated by it, you are the bad guy for not being thankful and showing gratitude.

Here's what I mean: people who know you are working hard to overcome your hoarding habits, or to pare down and pursue a minimalist lifestyle. But they keep. Giving you. Random. Stuff.

Stuff you didn't ask for. Stuff you don't want. Stuff you don't know what the hell you are going to do with. Even after you have asked them not to do that. Even after you have given them alternatives of things you would appreciate if they really wanted to give you gifts. But that's no fun, they say. It's not a surprise that way, or those are boring practical gifts, or they enjoy the hunt for finding gifts for people.

Friends, they are not giving gifts for YOU. They are not trying to make YOU happy, which is ostensibly what gifts are supposed to do. They are gift-giving for THEMSELVES. Does that sound strange?

If they really wanted to give you a gift and make you happy, they would respect your wishes. They are purposefully ignoring your wishes because they don't like your wishes, and making you unhappy. Ergo, the gift giving isn't for you, it's for them.

Maybe it's because they really don't like the path you're on and they consciously want to derail it. Maybe they just don't respect your choices and think they know better than you, what's good for you. Maybe they want you to feel indebted to them. Maybe they just want to feel like they are generous, gift-giving people because it makes them feel better about themselves. Maybe they live for the thanks they get. Maybe they just like to shop and they are feeding their addiction and unloading it onto other people so they don't feel burdened by it themselves. Whatever it is, this kind of behavior isn't for YOU, it's for them.

Think of it this way: if someone was a recovered alcoholic, and they had a friend who constantly said things like, "Just one drink won't hurt," or "But it's a special occasion!" or "You're no fun anymore," you would immediately see that "friend" as toxic to them and sabotaging their getting well, right? It's no different with this and overcoming hoarding. I was struggling with it before, and got my shit together, and sabotaging my efforts and hard work is not being a supportive friend, but rather the opposite.

Now I'm not saying these people are evil or anything, but they are not healthy for me and my road to wellness. Just like that alcoholic person's friend isn't evil, but likely struggling with their own alcoholism, since non-alcoholics can abstain for an evening or at least not pressure others to join in the drinking who don't want to. They're obviously dealing with some kind of issues of their own, perhaps low self esteem, perhaps narcissism, perhaps they also are a hoarder and they feel guilt seeing someone else overcome it when they haven't. Whatever it is, I don't generally think it's because they're bad people, but that doesn't mean they aren't toxic people, or just a mismatch of personalities. Not everyone is meant to be friends with everyone else; it's okay to walk away when someone doesn't support you.

Healthy, real friends support you as you get well - they don't try and drag you back down. Healthy, real friends don't feel threatened if you succeed, even in an area that they struggle with. Those are the people you want around, especially if you are working to recover from old bad patterns in your life!

So the next time someone unloads stuff you didn't want on you even though you've asked them not to and then they tell you you're an ungrateful b*tch if you protest, do not feel guilty. Those people are not at all concerned with your happiness. So don't be concerned with their manipulation! Of course I'm not saying every person who gives you an unwanted gift is this type of person, but the people who you've gone round and round with about it, and they still won't stop? Nah. Those are not friends. They're saboteurs.

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21 comments
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Yeah, presents, they are a minefield. Giving and receiving.

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Right but as I said at the end, it isn't the one-off mismatched present that I am taking issue with. It's the people who you've repeatedly told "no" to in various ways and they 100% don't care what you want and insist they know better than you and continue to ignore your wishes.

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Me neither.

It's the horrible over consumption and the way people feel obliged/compelled to buy things, regardless of their value to the recipient and the cost to their own, sometimes very meagre, pocket. So much emotion seems to be tied up in it which has nothing to do with the actual gift-giving. It seems to embody a whole range of things including resentment and control - I had someone who would visit me and buy something and put it out in my house where she thought it should go.

I get what you're saying about you would like cat-food and why: if they want to make it a fun present, pack in it in brown paper and colour some drawings on it!

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It's the horrible over consumption and the way people feel obliged/compelled to buy things, regardless of their value to the recipient and the cost to their own, sometimes very meagre, pocket.

Right! The environment, finances, a sense of obligation to perform gift-giving that really nobody wants ...all are so normalized and so terrible if you think about it. Gift giving should be joyful, not burdensome, but then if you opt not to participate you're burdened with guilt about it - both on the giving and receiving end!

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Nice! I was on the path to becoming a hoarder myself... but lately I've been cleaning up and throwing away a lot of unnecessary stuff. 😆

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My ex mother in law was like this, burying us constantly in baby clothes and toys. There is still crap lingering in the corners of this house. Unfortunately my ex was also a bit like her, getting me gifts and then getting mad when I wasn't "appreciative" of an object I literally had no use for which was just going to take up more space in an already cluttered house. They both had the nerve to us the "love language" excuse.... "My love language is gifts (receiving and giving apparently). Why can't you accept that?" 🙄

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Yeah, that's the type - but like someone's love language being gifts means they want to receive gifts, and if they really want to give gifts then they should give gifts that are appropriate to the recipient. For instance, if you wanted an experience (like, tickets to a concert) instead of stuff.

In my case, the conversation often goes: "what do you want for (holiday)?"
Me: "cat food."
Them: "no really"
Me: "I'm poor and stress about getting what we need and it ratchets down my anxiety exponentially if I have a cupboard full of cat food, that's really what makes me happy"
Them: "but that's practical and boring, I want to give a fun gift"
Me: "it's really what I want, but if you insist, I keep a wish list on amazon with other things on it"
Sometimes they will then buy me something off the list, but other times they still argue "oh but that's mostly books, boring" or whatever and I'm like ...I would rather you not burden me with random chotchkes I don't want, please.

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(Edited)

Hello @phoenixwren,
I connected with this post on so many levels, mainly emotionally. It's like I was hearing myself thinking aloud.
Since I have been living on my narrowboat, I share these same sentiments. I am a recovered hoarder, but I was never materialistic, which has always been contradicting me because I like simple ways of living. I've always kept things with the idea that I will have them available when I need to recreate something.
Now, I have limited space on the boat, and believe that I can use it positively in achieving having and living with less; then comes the gift-givers!
I'm constantly questioning all the reasons you've stated here.

I am vocal, blunt (some call it rude) so I might offend my husband if I refuse the gifts, but if I was left to my own devices, I would greet the gift-givers at the door by saying:

"I do not want it"
"I have no space for it" 
"I do not need it."
"My life is fine without it"
"Feel free to visit me without taking a gift"
"Please don't try to clutter my mind, or my space"
"And where the heck do you suppose I am going to store this"

So now I end up taking stuff with the hope that it breaks quickly, or before I break it, or just ditch it.

When I was leaving the Philippines, I found myself having to part with a lot of stuff. I included in the process to thoughtfully decide who I would give what items to, instead of just dumping them all on people who I knew would have no use or appreciate them. I made them select what they wanted too.

Your post is spot-on, and I compare it to a recovering addict in the same way.

💯%

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When I was leaving the Philippines, I found myself having to part with a lot of stuff. I included in the process to thoughtfully decide who I would give what items to, instead of just dumping them all on people who I knew would have no use or appreciate them.

Yeah, when I purge stuff I always try and find the best place to give it, so I belong to several Buy Nothing/Freecycle type groups, put books in Little Free Libraries, things like that, rather than dump it all at a thrift shop (who often throw out a lot of what they get, anyway). It takes more time and effort but to me it's worth it so that things go to people who really want them and hopefully not wasted.

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PS. I also thank you for not using the %&@* #KISS tag for your regular post on Minimalism😁👌👍.
Have a lovely day:)

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Oh no, are people abusing the tag? :(

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Yeah, as with all tags, people see the instructions and think, "Oh, use that tag and I will get votes."
I think it's a nice exercise to change the topics, but regular posts are always welcome... Especially one like yours!

Gift-giving thoughts have been playing on my mind, and it's strange that you came up with the same reasons why people might give gifts, as I did.

And also, if people are so keen to give a gift, which should be for the receiver, they would just ask you if there is anything in particular that you need. Yes, it might be a mundane ordinary thing, but that's how things should be anyway.

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sigh Oh, tag abuse. It's been around as long as the blockchain, it seems.

Yes, it might be a mundane ordinary thing, but that's how things should be anyway.

Yeah, like, I'm pretty simple and boring, lol. I'm generally happy with mundane ordinary things!

People who know you very well and are good at remembering things, like, "I remember you said you'd like one of these a while back" - those are surprise gifts and usually well received. But it's still a matter of the gift-giver having paid attention to the person having said that they liked/wanted the thing.

Then there are those people who latch onto "this is the thing that Phoenix likes" and stay with that for the rest of your life. For example, I loved Ninja Turtles when I was a kid and into teenage years. I am 43 now and I still get Ninja Turtle gifts from family members. 😂 I'm like ...??? And they're like, "Oh but NINJA TURTLES you love them" and I'm like ...yeah when I was 14 I would have loved this gift but IT'S BEEN A FEW DECADES SINCE THAT WAS MY THING 🤣

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I remember you said you'd like one of these a while back" - those are surprise gifts and usually well received. But it's still a matter of the gift-giver having paid attention to the person having said that they liked/wanted the thing

Exactly! I appreciate that too!

Ninja Turtle! C'mon 🤣🤣...if they do that for laughter, then buy something practical, then that would be ok.
It's like why to bother.

I love clocks, but there's a great chance that I'll have a functioning clock, therefore, don't go buying me clocks because I love them.
Another thing is people see you with something and go out and buy something almost identical, thinking you'll like this because you have one just like it. That's reason enough not to buy it then;)

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Oh, I love that porch pirate story 🤣

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Right? I also like the people who put their cat's or dog's poop in an empty Amazon box, re-tape it, and put it out and a porch pirate takes it. Like ...instant karma!! LOL
Also if you've never seen them, Mark Rober builds glitter bomb/fart spray devices with phones inside to record and track where it goes, to get porch pirates. He releases a new version every year around the winter holidays and it's pretty hilarious.

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Hahahaha! This is so funny!
I LOVE this kind of thing.
I'll take a look on youtube for a good laugh 🤣

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I didn't know people force gifts down people's throats. My mum is the only one that has done this to me and she learned fast because I'd end up not using the gift.

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In my experience, people who are like this often don't care if you use it, but some of them do and will guilt trip you about it, like, "why isn't the gift I gave you on display on your shelves??" or something.

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