Unwanted presents

Millions of us in Britain believe George Bush invaded Iraq not to depose a dictator but to steal the oil.


Here’s my festive gift to you, a little something to take with you into the New Year – advice about what to do with unwanted presents. I’m not talking about the bath salts and the Simpsons socks. I mean the emotions and stress that other people dump in your lap.

It happens all the year round, of course, but at this time of year, when the shops are crammed with bargain-hunters, and the roads are jammed with harassed families, you are most likely to receive just the kind of gifts you don’t want: anger, guilt and anxiety.

Take the driver who tailgates you for two miles on a winding road, before he revs past on a dangerous corner and accelerates away, poking one finger up at you.

Half a minute later he’s out of sight, but he’s left a big parcel for you, full of your own seething rage. Or what about the relative who makes disparaging comments about the way you bring up your children? She never confronts you with her comments directly, of course – she just drops them into the conversation in front of the family. That’s a great present: embarrassment, anger and resentment, all wrapped up in one. I’m sure you can list your own examples, though you probably hadn’t thought of them as gifts before. But that’s exactly what they are. You didn’t asked for these feelings to be thrust on to you. If someone you didn’t know in the street tried to give you their useless gifts, you wouldn’t think twice about brushing them aside.
And tacky presents from an unloved relative swiftly end up in the charity shop or the dustbin. You can reject material gifts, and you can reject the emotional ones too. You don’t have to carry round those rotten feelings.

You can choose to throw them away. Clear out your emotional closet of all the unwanted feelings bestowed on you by others, and go into 2004 with a smile on your face!


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