Dissecting "Gift Guilt" - When Does Receiving a Gift Make You Feel Bad?
Ever since I was a child, I have been taught that when you receive a gift you should be happy about it and then give something back in return. To this day I still believe that is good manners, but sometimes receiving gifts is stressful for me because of what I call "gift guilt". Read on to see what I mean.
The most common kind of gift guilt occurs when someone gives me something but I do not have something to give back or I did not intend to buy a gift for that person. This has happened a few times at work, and most of the times I just said thank you and carried on. I think this is the easiest type of gift guilt to deal with because I can just give something in return.
Another type of gift guilt is when I sincerely do not want or cannot use the gift. For example, I have received clothes from relatives in China that I cannot wear. I could not send the clothes back or return them to a store so they were given away to random people. It is sad that I cannot appreciate the gift, but sometimes that is how thing are, and I feel guilty for not liking or using a gift.
Then there is the unsettling guilty feeling brought on by an extremely large gift. I feel indebted to people when they give me gifts with a large monetary value, and if the gift came from someone I barely know I would probably return it just to feel at ease. Maybe I am just paranoid, but I suspect that accepting a ginormous gift from an acquaintance could come back and bite me.
The worst kind of gift guilt I get is when friends in debt give something to me. I do appreciate the gesture, but I feel bad about it because I feel that their need for the money is more than my need for a gift. At the same time it is also hard to say "I cannot accept this gift because I know you need the money to pay off your debts." That just sounds really condescending, but sometimes I really do feel like screaming, "pay off your credit card bills first before you give me something!" I think this way because I do care about them, but it is hard for me to say it out loud.
With that said, I do like giving gifts more than receiving them because there is less paranoia and guilt involved and I have never regretted giving out something. Perhaps I just think too much about this, and I should always just say thank you and move on, but sometimes I just cannot help feeling guilty about receiving something. Have you ever felt weird about receiving an undesired, unexpected, or unnecessarily generous gift? What did you do about it?