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How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

You're going to give the wrong gift, and you will never get what you want.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Narcissism?
  • Find a therapist who understands narcissism

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

So it’s time to exchange gifts with the narcissist in your life. First, accept two things:

1. The narcissist will never be happy with your gift.

2. This will never change.

Here are the common scenarios you will encounter when exchanging gifts with a narcissist, as detailed in my book, Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People — and Break Free.

1. The narcissist tells you that you didn’t give them a nice enough gift. Does this mean the narcissist will then give you a perfect gift to “teach you a lesson”? Maybe to “one-up” you in the beginning, but after that your gifts will be woefully lacking. However, if you ever express upset about a gift the narcissist gives you, you will be stonewalled (completely cut off as a form of punishment), or you will never hear the end of it.

2. There are two sets of rules in this relationship — one for the narcissist and one for you. To the narcissist, they can play with the rules all they want — but you must stick to rigid relationship rules. The narcissist may even blame you for the fact they “had to” return your gift because “I needed to get something more appropriate” or because “you gave me the wrong gift.” Remember, you will always give them the wrong gift. Always.

3. If the narcissist asks you what you want for Christmas, you will most likely not get it. Telling a narcissist what gift you would like is almost a guarantee you will not get it. But if you do not act like the narcissist’s gift is the best ever when you receive it, the narcissist will point out that you are ungrateful or they will stonewall you.

4. You have given so many “wrong” gifts to the narcissist that you decide you’ll take the narcissist with you to the store so they can pick out specifically what they would like. However, the narcissist does not take kindly to this. They call you heartless and uncaring. “How could you not already have a gift for me?” When you explain that you thought it would be better (and maybe more fun) if you went together to get a gift for him/her, they see this as an insult.

5. The narcissist may request a gift that is way out of your price range. To the narcissist, he/she is worth this extravagant price. However, you tell the narcissist there is really no way you can afford it. The narcissist takes this as a sign of your lack of love for him/her. He/she says you really loved him/her, you would spend whatever it takes. So you buy the gift out of guilt and shame, and wind up paying a large bill later. For the rest of your relationship, the narcissist will bring up the time that you said a gift was too expensive. They will especially be prone to bringing it up during arguments or when you are around their friends and family, just to embarrass you and put you “in your place.”

6. The narcissist will buy you a rather inexpensive gift, but they buy something expensive for themselves on the same shopping trip. They buy you an item of little value or thought, while they show off the expensive watch they bought themselves when they are at the store. Message: You do not have the same worth as me.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Narcissism?
  • Find a therapist who understands narcissism

7. You give a gift to the narcissist that you know they will like because they have been talking about wanting this gift for quite a while now. You think that this time you will have finally given them the “right” gift. You are excited for them to open your gift — this time there is no way the narcissist can say you got them the wrong gift, right? Nope, your gift will still be wrong. The narcissist will “gaslight” you by telling you they never asked for that gift. Gaslighting is a hallmark of the narcissist. The narcissist tells you they never said something that you swear they said — or they twist your own words.

8. Here’s a twist on number 7 above — you get a gift the narcissist has been wanting for a while — you are sure this time you got it “right.” But the narcissist tells you the gift is the wrong kind or wrong style of what they said they wanted. To top it off, the narcissist yells that you are selfish for not paying attention to what they said they wanted — and they made it “so simple” for you. They may even tell you that you are the stupidest person they’ve ever met. Narcissists are really good at calling other people “selfish.” It’s a statement they’re really making about themselves.

Narcissism Essential Reads

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9. The narcissist asks for a designer cashmere sweater for Christmas. You get them a red sweater, because you know that’s their favorite color. The narcissist opens the gift, and asks why you would get them a red sweater. Don’t you know they already have two red sweaters? What made you think they liked red? What were you thinking? Oh, it’s because you were only thinking of yourself. (Does this sound familiar?)

10. If the narcissist does get you something they consider to be pricey, they will leave the price tag on your gift. This isn’t for ease of returning the item — the narcissist doesn’t even make an attempt to cross out the price of the gift. Message: Look how much money I spent on you. You should be grateful. You owe me.

11. The narcissist barely tries to wrap your gifts. In the beginning, you received gifts that looked professionally wrapped. The narcissist was trying to look good. However, that ended quickly into your relationship. Now you are given gifts that aren’t wrapped and still in the shopping bag. It’s not that the narcissist doesn’t know how to wrap gifts — they just don’t put that much thought into it.

12. The narcissist tends to ruin holidays with drama and stonewalling. Accept that whatever you do will be wrong. Even something that was acceptable by the relationship “rules” you must follow is now the worst violation ever to the narcissist. You will be stonewalled or berated on major holidays and birthdays.

So what can you do? Again, accept that the narcissist will never change. The narcissist thinks everyone else has a problem — not them. Take a hard look at how long you want to be exposed to this kind of behavior. What kind of toll is it taking on your emotional and physical health? Consider talking to a mental health professional on your own. (Narcissists will either refuse to go to a counselor, charm the counselor, and/or tell the counselor it is all your fault.)

For more information, see my Psychology Today post, “So You’re in a Relationship with a Narcissist, Now What?”, part 3 of a 3-part series on narcissism and relationships.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Whether you’ve lived together for years and don’t really need to upgrade your kitchen appliances and linens, have a tiny space that won’t fit any new purchases, or are working on a project that’s getting pricey, sometimes all you really want as a wedding gift is cash. If you’re wondering how to ask for money instead of gifts for your wedding, it requires a bit of tact.

Asking for cash for a wedding gift might rub some family members and friends the wrong way, so we outlined the best tips when it comes to asking for and handling cash gifts.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Use a Cash Registry Website

For those more tech-savvy guests, turn to a cash registry site. There are many options, including:

  1. Zola: Zola allows you to ask for cash gifts, honeymoon contributions, and physical gifts all on one all-inclusive registry.
  2. Honeyfund: If you're primarily interested in cash for your honeymoon specifically, this honeymoon registry has fun breakdowns where guests can contribute to upgrading your airfare or paying for an exciting excursion.

Never Ask for Cash on Your Wedding Invitation

The one place your request for cash should never be included? Your wedding invitation. Registry information of any kind doesn’t belong here. Instead, add it to your wedding website. You can include your wedding website on the invitation, however, or as an insert in your wedding invitation suite.

Be Specific About How You'll Use the Cash

Cash or a check can feel impersonal, so letting guests know where the money will go helps your guests feel more connected to the two of you and your plans. If you're in the middle of a big project, like renovating your home or moving across the country, let guests know about it on your wedding website. Adding a more personal touch with the story of how the project got started, how far along you are, and even the pitfalls you've faced along the way (now that you know how expensive it is to rewire your whole house) will both make your guests feel more connected to your lives and also serve as a plea for help that they'll be more inclined to answer.

Ask Your Parents and Wedding Party to Spread the Word

Make sure to let your parents and bridal party know that you’d prefer cash (as well as why) and encourage them to tactfully spread the word. Chances are guests will ask them what they should get you, and this will prepare them to share what you’re saving for, whether it’s the trip of a lifetime, a kitchen remodel, or a down payment on a home you can call your own. They can then suggest that your guests make a contribution to your savings fund instead of getting you a new toaster.

Set up a Traditional Registry

Don’t skip the traditional registry altogether. You’re guaranteed to have a few guests who prefer to give you a physical gift, so make the process easier for them by registering for a selection of items you really want.

Set Out a Box for Cards at the Reception

Not everyone will use your cash registry. Instead, they’ll bring a check or cash to the reception. Buy (or craft) a card box that you can designate for cards at the reception. Ask your planner or maid of honor to periodically check the box throughout the evening.

They can collect the cards you’ve received and put them in a safe place so you don’t have to worry about money wandering off, and your guests can give their gifts with a little peace of mind.

Ideally, Checks Should Be Made Out to Both Of You

Guests might address your checks in a variety of ways: to just the groom, to just the bride (under her maiden name), to the bride (using her new married name), or to both of you. The best way (if anyone asks) is to address the check to both of you, using “or” instead of “and.”

For example, let’s say Mariah Nichols marries Joe Griffin. Ideally, the check will be made out to “Mariah Nichols or Joe Griffin.” That will allow for seamless transactions at the bank. In the event that Mariah changes her name to Griffin, she can bring along her old and new I.D., as well as her marriage license to the bank. While you won’t be dictating how guests make out checks, of course, it’s still good information to know just in case someone asks. Remember, then, to stick with both of your names and “or” for smooth deposits.

Stick to Physical Gifts for Your Bridal Shower

You might be tempted to ask for cash and gift cards at your bridal shower as well, but that’s a little trickier. Of course, you’d be thrilled to have extra cash in your pocket (who wouldn’t be?), but it’s better to steer clear of any requests for cash at this event. Why? Unlike a wedding, a major part of a bridal shower is unwrapping presents. Even if you already have a furnished home, you could probably stand to replace heavily used items like sheets and towels, or upgrade to some shiny new cookware.

But if you really want to skip the registry, your bridesmaids should rethink the party plans and instead organize a gathering that, accordingly, isn’t gift-focused. A relaxing spa day, perhaps? You shouldn’t expect gifts if you do this, but you can expect to have a great time with your best girls.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Have you ever wanted something from one of your friends or coworkers but didn't know how to ask a favor? There are ways you can do it that make the situation easier and less daunting.

Are you concerned that people will think less of you if you ask for something? Most people don't think twice about being asked for favors, unless you come across as needy and constantly want something.

If asking for favors makes you uncomfortable, you're in good company. Many people ponder, fret, and worry before they finally get the nerve to ask someone for what they want or need. This doesn't have to be the case, but there are some important guidelines that will make the request less demanding.

Awkward and Uncomfortable

Asking for a favor isn’t easy, especially if you don’t feel that you have something to give back. However, not everyone expects you to return the favor right away. There might be something you can do later, and you should be happy to let the person know you’ll remember their act of kindness in the future.

How to Ask for Favors

Here are some tips on asking for favors:

  1. Be direct but polite. Never beat around the bush when asking someone to do something for you, or the person may not get the gist of what you are trying to say. However, you don’t want to come across as demanding or acting like you’re entitled. You can be both direct and polite. For example, if you need a sitter for a few minutes, you might say, “I have to run to the store, but my baby is still sleeping. Would you mind coming over and listening for him? I won’t be long, and I’ll be happy to pick something up for you while I’m at the store.”
  2. Don’t make it sound bad. If you are asking a favor, put the request in a positive light. Instead of saying, “I know you’re busy, but would you mind doing this for me?” say something like, “I just finished building a new bookshelf, and since you’re such a good carpenter, would you mind taking a look at it before I put it in the library?” The first example makes it seem like you’re asking the person to stop what they’re doing and help you out, while the second one acknowledges their expertise.
  3. Avoid guilt. You might want something from a person you’ve done things for in the past. Just remember that unless it was stated outright that they owe you something, they doesn’t have to reciprocate. Don’t tell anyone they owe this to you, or they might resent returning the favor.
  4. Don’t cross the line. If you are friends with a doctor, you might ask a quick question without overstepping the boundaries. However, if you expect your doctor friend to give you a complete physical on personal time, you are definitely crossing the line. The same goes for any profession. Don’t ask for something that the person is paid to do unless you are willing to fork over some money or barter your own services.
  5. Show respect. When you want a favor from someone you respect, let the person know that this is why you’re coming to them. This might be for a job reference, a letter of recommendation, or an endorsement. You might say something like, “Since you’re so well respected in this field, your recommendation would mean a lot to me.”
  6. Avoid constant one-sided favors. The person may not expect you to reciprocate immediately after doing one favor for you. However, if you ask over and over without doing something in return they might start avoiding your calls. Try to find something you can do for this person before asking for something else. Otherwise, you’ll come across as needy and possibly even a user.
  7. Be personal but straightforward. If you are making your request in a letter or email, address the person by name, let her know what you want, state the reason you’re asking them, provide all the facts, and let them know if you need this within a certain timeframe. Always end with gratitude. The words “thank you” go a long way.
  8. Take “No” for an answer. Don’t be taken aback or get upset if someone turns you down for a favor. They might be too busy to babysit or not have enough money to sponsor you for a charity run. When someone turns you down, say thank you and ask if they might be interested in the future. Make a note of the response and respect their wishes. Don’t take “no” personally.
  9. Give the person an opportunity for escape. When you ask a favor, it’s a good idea to add something like, “I understand if you’re not able to do this now,” or “Please don’t feel obligated if you aren’t comfortable doing this for me.” Say this and mean it.
  10. Show gratitude. After the person does the favor, get to work on writing a thank you note. Tell her how much you appreciate the favor and remind them that you’d love to do something in return in the future. If there isn’t a favor in return for you to grant, you can also send a thank you gift.
  11. Do favors for others. If you are in the habit of helping others out, they’re more likely to want to do something for you. However, don’t expect something in return, or you may be disappointed. Always show your grace and poise when you help others.

After the Favor is Granted

When someone does something for you, always follow up with a verbal thank you and a note to follow up. You don’t need to go on and on, or you’ll make the person uncomfortable. A favor is a gift, regardless of whether you’re on the giving end or the recipient.

How to respond to a complaint with an apology letter?

Step 1: Apologize for the pain, not the mistake

“We are really sorry for the delay in today’s flight and we apologize if that might have caused you to be late or to miss an important event. We totally understand how inconvenient it is not to be able to reach on time and to have your arrangements messed up.”

Step 2: Expression of regret and apology

Examples of sorry phrases:

# “I am terribly sorry for the mistake. “

# “I regret the fact that you found our products to be . “

# “Allow me to apologize for the wrong delivery

Step 3: Acknowledgement of the mistake, taking responsibility

Step 4: Provide an explanation

Step 5: Resolution

How to compensate a customer?

    Fixing or repairing the problem: Was there an interruption in service? Did the product malfunction? Addressing the problem at hand is the first thing you do when dealing with complaints.

Step 6: Customer Retention: Safeguards and Precautions

Mass apologies: when you want to apologize to all of your customers

When a large chunk of your customers are affected by the same issue, then it is better to send a mass message to all of them at once. In your apology speech, you address them as a group, not as individuals.

When you apologize to your customers as a group, they will realize that they are not the only ones who received the poor service. People are generally more tolerant if they feel that others have suffered as much as they did.

Apart from that, all the elements that we discussed earlier apply exactly the same way.

Apology For Bad Product or Service Letter

Sample apology letter to client for poor service

Apology letter to unsatisfied customer for mistake and the inconvenience

Apology letter to client for delay in service

Refund letter to customer

Apology letter for wrong or late delivery

Professional customer service apology statement

Apology letter for technical issues

Product replacement letter to customer

Sorry mail to client

Apology letter to customer for defective product

Apology letter to hotel guest for inconvenience or bad service

Restaurant apology letter for bad food or service

Apology letter to client for employee misconduct

Reply to a complaint letter for bad customer service

Apology letter to customer for miscommunication

Dear Valued Customer,

Please allow me to express my deepest regrets for the lack of proper communication with regards to your request. As I understood from you, no one from our team called you back to follow up with you.

I am really sorry to hear that and apologize for the fact that you couldn’t get your request fulfilled earlier.

In response to this, I have alerted the concerned staff and gave clear instructions to address your request by tomorrow. I will be calling you tomorrow afternoon to make sure that you got what you wanted as you wanted.

Please inform me if there is anything else I can do for you.

How to apologize to customer for inconvenience

1) Express your shock for what happened. Explain to the client that this kind of incidents rarely happens.

2) Say that you are sorry and apologize for the inconvenience caused.

3) Offer the client a satisfactory solution (refund, replacement, etc. )

4) Promise the client that you will take the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening ever again.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

A few weeks ago, after receiving a compliment on a project I’d been slaving over for weeks, I found myself exhibiting several symptoms of imposter syndrome.

What’s impostor syndrome, you ask?

It’s when a colleague compliments your work on a report, and you point out the fact that you missed a single typo on page 14.

It’s when the stranger at Starbucks says she likes your outfit, and you say, “Thanks, but look at the terrible hair day I’m having!”

It’s when a fellow mom notes how well-behaved your son is, and you insist that he’s never usually this good (even though he actually is).

It’s when a friend congratulates you on a recent success, and you blush and chalk it all up to good luck.

A lot of successful women suffer from impostor syndrome in everything from their careers to their clothes to their kids. “I don’t deserve this,” we think. “They’re saying I’m good enough, but I know I’m really not.”

One way to tell if you’re suffering from impostor syndrome is to question if you really know how to accept a compliment graciously.

If you clam up, start squirming, and turn beet red when someone compliments you, you’re probably infected. If you immediately redirect the conversation or—even worse—counteract the compliment by insisting you can’t accept credit or that it was all a fluke, get thee to the doctor. You’ve got a bad case of impostor syndrome.

Thankfully there’s a cure, and the treatment regimen begins with healthier responses to those awesome accolades you get.

How to Accept a Compliment: 4 Ways To Respond Graciously

1. Say “thank you.” Nothing else.

For those who have been struck by impostor syndrome, the phrase “thank you” is almost always followed by the word “but.”

Thank you, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Thank you, but I probably could have done better. Thank you, but I think I just got lucky. And on and on and on.

To start the path to recovery, try biting your tongue before you say “but.”

2. Share an interesting detail.

Too many women respond to a compliment by downgrading the very quality for which they’re being praised. That’s not how to accept a compliment!

Someone compliments our shoes and we jump to tell them how old they are, as if we couldn’t possibly be up-to-date with the latest trends. Someone congratulates us on a promotion and we immediately counter that the better candidate dropped out of the race.

A better approach? Offering the complimenter an extra tidbit of information that tells a more complete story—sans self-degredation.

So for the shoes, your usual response of “You mean this old pair?” becomes “They were a thoughtful gift from my aunt, and wearing them always makes me think of her.” Likewise, for the promotion, any mention of the competition gets replaced with, “I actually rehearsed for the interview in front of the mirror!”

3. Ask a question.

This one’s downright practical. When someone gives you kudos, see if you can get them to elaborate a bit; their feedback might be really useful for future endeavors.

For example, when your co-worker says, “I loved your article!” you thank her and then ask what in particular she liked about it. Or when your friend exclaims that she loves the paint color you chose for your living room, see if she has any suggestions for artwork that might pair nicely.

4. Return the love.

Saying thank you is polite, but also offering some flattery of your own is polite and thoughtful. The point of doing so isn’t to diminish your achievement in any way; rather, it simply serves to start a conversation in which both parties are appreciated and celebrated.

It can be as simple as saying something like, “I was just admiring your outfit as well!” Or my personal favorite: Complimenting the compliment itself. “Thanks for saying my daughter’s a great listener. That’s about the nicest thing you can say to a mom!” Now that’s how to accept a compliment graciously!

As Jessica Valenti once wrote, “Confidence is not just about believing in the good in ourselves, but about believing in the good that others see in us.”

If you constantly feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve whatever great things have come your way in life, try changing the way you respond to the compliments you undoubtedly receive.

You might just find that when you stop undervaluing yourself, you discover you’re not an impostor at all. Just a genuinely amazing human being.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

That’s because we are living someone else’s life. We allowed other people to influence or determine our choices—we are trying to please their expectations.

Social pressure is deceiving—we all become prey without noticing it. Before we realize we lost control of our lives, we end up envying how other people live. We can only see the greener grass—ours is never good enough.

To regain that passion for the life you want, you must recover ownership of your choices.

The Illusion of Others

You are not alone. Expectations are hard to overcome. With my experience coaching executives and their teams, I’m used to dealing with expectations—everyone is susceptible to the illusion of others.

Pleasing others is like chasing a moving target. People will have multiple hopes for you. Social pressure fluctuates—others’ expectations will continually change.

By trying to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one—ourselves included. Expectations are an illusion. That’s why most people don’t live the life they want. They feel frustrated and disappointed.

When we expect, we stop accepting reality. Anticipation is annoying—even when things go as expected, you can’t enjoy unsurprising events. Even when we get what we wished for, we can’t be happy either. That’s the problem with anticipation—we fall in love with the expectations. If what we anticipated doesn’t come true, life seems unfair. If it does, the lack of surprise makes the actual experience less exciting.

The same thing happens with people. They get frustrated when you don’t behave as they expect. That’s key to understand—it’s their problem, not yours.

Why People Expect You to Be Different

“Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

Many people bear resentment when the outcome of an event is less than they imagined it would be, even if their expectation was based on unreasonable assumptions.

Frustration is the gap between what people expect from you and who you are.

To bridge that void, you must reframe your relationship with people’s expectations. Expectations create a social contract—it’s an implicit agreement between others and you. If you don’t push back, people will assume you are okay with it.

Speak up. Or people will continue invading you. If you don’t resist, not only do you legitimize the agreement, it becomes a social practice. Soon, you’ll start doing the same to others—when you let other people define your life, you want to prescribe theirs, too.

Not expecting things from others is the first step to preventing people from dictating how you live. Life is a two-way street—when you realize that no one owes you anything, you stop expecting people to owe you anything either.

No one knows yourself better than you do. No one but yourself can choose how you live.

Fall In Love With Your Life (Again)

1. Put on your oxygen mask first.

The first step to getting rid of expectations is to treat yourself kindly. To take care of others, you have to put on your oxygen mask first—you can’t truly love other people if you don’t love yourself first. Accepting ourselves fully (flaws included) is the foundation for a long-term friendship. When we accept who we are, there’s no room for other’s expectations.

Being self-compassionate is like fresh oxygen to your mind.

Research by Kristin Neff shows that compassionate acts towards ourselves release the “feel-good” hormones. Increased levels of oxytocin make us feel comforted, calm, and connected.

2. Adjust the way you think.

You cannot control what others think about you, but you can choose how you talk to yourself. Your inner-talk can help or harm you, as I wrote here. Learn to choose your words wisely. Your expectations can put you in a box—you are the only one who can set yourself free.

You are the best person you can talk to.

Pay attention to your inner-dialogue—are you being kind to yourself or adding more pressure? Does your conversation focus on who you are and what you want to be? Or is it full of expectations of who you should be? Your dialogue should be yours, not shaped by other people’s thoughts.

3. Speak up.

People need limits—some because they are acting without noticing, others because they tend to impose their desires. Speak up. Don’t let them dictate who you are and what you should do.

People will assume the social contract is active unless you explicitly break it.

Learn to draw a line. You don’t need to be harsh, though. Just let others know when they are out of bounds—not everyone realizes when they are trying to define how you live.

4. Free yourself and free others.

When you remove your own preconceptions and expectations, you can do the same for others. Living the life you love is liberating—you don’t feel the pressure to please others. Similarly, you won’t need to impose your will on others either.

When you take ownership of your life, other people feel empowered to follow suit.

Expectations are an illusion—they add useless pressure to everyone. Let’s recover the joy of living. Remember when you were a kid. You probably didn’t have time for expectations—you were busy enjoying life one minute at a time.

5. Stop judging, stop expecting.

Expectations derive from being judgmental—when someone can’t accept how you behave, they expect you to change. By learning to be more compassionate toward yourself, not only will you ease your own expectations, but you also won’t feel the need to judge others.

Life is not perfect—removing expectations will let you appreciate your life as is.

Judgment adds frustration and negativity—perfectionists are never happy. When you let go of expectations, you create space to enjoy the here and now. Your life is not what should happen, but what is actually happening as you read these words.

Learning to accept reality is hard, but it’s a significant step towards finding calm and peace. Removing expectations doesn’t mean lowering your bar, but rather letting go of the unnecessary pressure. Only when we are relaxed can we give our best.

Any moment is a turning point if you decide to make the most of it. You are in charge. Love your life. Accept the worst and hope for the best.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Accepting the reality of your life sounds like it should be easy enough. But many, many people hold to their own version of reality. It may be based in regret, disappointment, denial, or just waiting for something better–a promotion, for the kids to be grown, retirement, whatever. Failing to connect with reality is why some of us have pants in the closet that haven’t fit in years. More significantly, it keeps people in unfulfilling jobs or even in the wrong profession entirely.

There are few better things you can do for yourself than giving up the fictional version of your life and learning to accept yourself, your life, and your reality. Even if your situation is terrible, the first step in improving it is acknowledging it for what it is.

Here are 11 ways to cope with reality–especially the parts of reality you don’t like–and how you can change it into a reality you want.

1. Accept yourself.

Acceptance is the ability to unconditionally value all parts of who you are. That means you acknowledge all of yourself–the good and the things that need improvement. For most of us, self-acceptance can be hard. We tend to be critical of ourselves, but there are a number of ways to learn to accept yourself and your life. It all begins with your state of mind.

2. Acknowledge your reality.

Sometimes facing reality isn’t the easiest thing to do, but accepting your current situation can make you happier in the present and lead to a better future. Understanding, accepting, and working with reality is both practical and purposeful. Acknowledging your reality will help you choose your dreams wisely and then help you achieve them.

3. Practice radical honesty.

When you can admit your own pretense, you can begin to powerfully create a new future. Denying your current reality–especially if it’s a bad one–will not make it make it go away. Dealing with the bad stuff is a way to get to the good stuff–but it takes practice, practice, practice.

4. Identify your part.

To fully accept your reality, it’s important to acknowledge any role you may have played, good or bad, in getting where you are. Ask yourself questions related to your current situation to help work toward solutions. To fully accept your reality, it is important to identify what you may have done to foster success or failure. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can work toward the best next steps.

5. Admit your mistakes.

Remember that you can’t fix anything until you admit there’s a problem. Try to view your mistakes not as failures but as learning opportunities, and have the strength within to realize you control your reality and you’re the only one who can change it. Decide what’s important to you and set your mind to it.

6. Own your outcomes.

Work toward owning every part of your reality–not just the things that need work but also your strengths and successes. Owning all your outcomes can help teach you to do better next time, to see failure as a learning moment.

7. Don’t let fear get in your way.

Don’t let fears–especially fears of what others think of you–stand in your way. You must be willing to do things in the unique ways you think are best, and to reflect on any feedback you receive.

8. Count on your competencies.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and point out all your insecurities. But to face your reality, it’s best to start counting all positives. Make a list of your strengths, the things you are good at, the values that you hold, and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. Counting on your competencies helps you realize your strengths, which in turn will help you improve your attitude toward yourself.

9. Let go of your biases.

Don’t get caught up in the life you think you are supposed to have, but work on creating the reality you are meant to live. Your biases can blind you to almost any reality. You can try to ignore them, but closing your eyes won’t make them disappear. Instead, learn to understand them and let them go.

10. Accept that struggle will always be part of your reality.

Don’t shy away from challenges, but rather wade into the struggle and get comfortable with operating and living there. Struggles are a way of life, and we have to learn to confront them. And you never know–something the most challenging things can hold the greatest opportunity for success.

11. Make a plan for reaching your goal.

Include steps you will take to take to create a new reality. Break your goal into small steps that you can accomplish one at a time to build your confidence and self-worth as you go. Your new reality can begin to happen once you have a plan with specific goals.

Remember, you will never be able to create the right reality if you aren’t willing to let the wrong reality go.

School’s out for the holidays very soon, and chances are your child’s teacher is as relieved as your child!

After all of those months of lecturing, coaching, mentoring and inspiring, many educators receive a token of appreciation at Christmas from their pupils and their parents. If you’re giving a present, will it make the grade?

Think twice before you give your teacher another apple (or an item with an apple motif). Gift cards, thank you notes and handmade gifts are better.“I honestly don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘bad’ gift, especially from an elementary school student,” Stephanie Giese, a former public school teacher who lives in York, Penn., wrote on the TODAY Facebook page.

“But it is true that certain gifts, like mugs, candles and lotions do tend to outnumber all the rest at a rate of about ten to one.”

We’ve scoured teacher and education blogs, and asked teachers to weigh in on the TODAY Facebook page. Here’s what we found:

5 worst gifts for teachers:

1. Mugs and candles: Chances are your teacher has so many of these that she doesn’t know what to do with them.

“I literally have hundreds of mugs,” Giese wrote in her blog. “And I already have enough [candles] to get me through the next 87 years.”

2. Homemade food: Teachers know a lot of effort goes into these treats, but let’s just say they don’t exactly trust their students’ culinary skills or their attention to hygiene.

“Homemade food… not so great. We end up throwing it away, as you are never really sure what is in it!” wrote Kasey Engel.

“Any cakes, biscuits or other foodstuffs made by pupils go straight in the bin. Having seen how much nose-picking and nail-biting goes on in the classroom, I can never bring myself to eat them,” a teacher confessed on TheSchoolRun.com.

3. Things shaped like apples or with apple motifs: Yes, it’s cute and it’s what many people think of when they consider the profession, but it’s likely your teacher already has a collection of such items, especially if he or she’s a veteran.

4. ‘Intimate’ gifts: Lotions, perfumes, and bath products can be nice if you know the person very well, but that’s hardly the case when it comes to pupils or parents picking out gifts for teachers. Plus, the very scent you adore can make someone else gag or break out in hives. Skip the personal presents, especially anything that might make your educator blush.

“Worst gift ever — see-through nightie from a fifth grader! Very memorable though!” wrote Paula Trimble Hutton, a teacher in Wilmington, Del.

5. Cash: Gift cards are a favorite, but actual money in an envelope is awkward.

“While I appreciated the thought, it made me feel like maybe I was being bribed to give the student a better grade and it put me in an awkward position,” Giese said. “Do I offend the parent by not accepting it, or do I risk being reprimanded by the school board for taking it?”

5 best gifts for teachers:

1. Gift cards: Over and over again, teachers said you can’t go wrong with a gift card, either to a store the educator can enjoy for personal reasons, like a coffee shop or a spa, or to a place where they stock up on supplies.

“I think my best was a gift card to my hair salon,” wrote Carly Leen.

“I wanted gift cards [because] that equals money I can spend in my classroom without getting four approvals and ordering and waiting forever or spending my own paycheck,” wrote Bonnie Sears, a teacher in Oxford, Ala.

2. Handmade presents: Children shouldn’t be shy about crafting a gift for their favorite educator, anything from a special drawing to a personalized trinket for the Christmas tree.

“I LOVE handmade gifts from my kids,” wrote Carly Leen, a teacher in Howell, Mich. “I still have ornaments from eight years ago that my students made for me.”

“Perhaps the most valued and remembered gifts were homemade crafts made by students just for me,” added Margaret Lebak, a teacher in Bismarck, N.D.

3. A class gift: Instead of coming up with a present, each child contributes a set amount of money, say $5, and the entire amount is spent on one gift or gift card that the teacher really wants.

4. Store-bought food: While homemade treats can make teachers queasy (see above), gourmet offerings made by professionals are always a good idea. Think chocolates, cookies, popcorn mixes and fudge. Knowing what teachers go through, some parents provide a bottle of wine.

5. Handwritten thank you notes & letters: “The best gift is any gift seeing that the student decided to show their appreciation. I absolutely love the letters of ‘thanks for being the best teacher,’” wrote Valerie Aceves, a teacher in Fresno, Calif.

“Over the years, I’ve been the recipient of many gifts: from expensive to thoughtful and everything in between. The gifts I still have? They’re the cards and letters that students and parents have written me that detail the difference that all those late nights I spent planning, marking and preparing engaging lessons made,” wrote Jodie Commons.

Last week, I had lunch with a friend. As we were walking out, she mentioned that she had to see someone who hadn’t always been kind to her, a relationship that caused her more stress and suffering than anything else. She’d been avoiding the meeting, but now it looked inevitable.

“She just makes me so anxious,” she said, gritting her teeth. I’ve been there myself. Lots of times. Seriously toxic relationships call for us to cut off contact altogether; others, though also toxic, seem impossible to avoid. Perhaps you have a constantly criticizing mother-in-law, or a neighbor who seems emotionally stuck in seventh grade. Maybe it’s a boss who belittles you when he’s stressed—or someone who is so under your skin you hold entire conversations with them in your head.

If you, too, have struggled with a toxic relationship, I hope this little instruction manual will help you.

1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Your choices here are fairly limited, and, strangely, acceptance is always the best choice. You can judge and criticize the other person, but that will probably make you feel tense and lonely. Alternately, you could nurse your anxiety and despair that you’ll never be able to get along with them, which will make you feel stressed and sad. You can definitely deny their existence or pretend that they aren’t bothering you. You can block their texts and emails, and avoid every situation where they’ll turn up.

These are all tactics of resistance, and they won’t protect you. Ironically, these tactics will allow the other person to further embed themselves into your psyche.

What does work is to accept that your relationship with them is super hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This gentle acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. Maybe it will—and maybe it won’t. Accepting the reality of a difficult relationship allows us to soften. And this softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.

Trust me: You are going to need those things.

2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings

This is not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.

3. Tell the truth

When you lie (perhaps to avoid upsetting them), you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. For example, they might ask you if you forgot to invite them to a party. You can easily say yes, that it was a mistake that they didn’t get the Evite, and did they check their spam folder?

But lying is very stressful for human beings, maybe the most stressful thing. Lie detectors detect not lies, but the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. This will not make the relationship less toxic.

So, instead, tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth instead of your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. Don’t say “I didn’t invite you because it would stress Mom out too much to have you there” or “I didn’t invite you because you are a manipulative drama queen who will find some way to make the evening about you.”

Instead, tell them your truth: “When you are in my home, I feel jittery and nervous, and I can’t relax, so I didn’t invite you to the party. I’m sorry that I’ve hurt your feelings.”

It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. But they will probably be mad at you anyway, no matter what you do. They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you—and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.

4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm

It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that soothing yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.

5. Have mercy

More on Conflict in Relationships

Learn three easy strategies and five tips for dealing with difficult relatives.

Anne Lamott defines mercy as radical kindness bolstered by forgiveness, and it allows us to alter a communication dynamic, even when we are interacting with someone mired in anger or fear or jealousy. We do this by offering them a gift from our heart. You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person. Can you buy them a cup of coffee? Can you hold space for their suffering? Can you send a loving-kindness meditation their way?

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they’d asked for forgiveness, preferably in the form of a moving and remorseful apology letter.

But I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. This means that you might need to forgive the other person at the end of every day—or, on bad days, every hour. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. “When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves,” Anne Lamott writes, “we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp.”

Here’s the real miracle: Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance—and when we tell the truth in even the most difficult relationship—we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even if it is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.

How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links from which we receive a compensation (like Amazon for example). But they do not affect the opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is an independent, award-winning consumer publication established in 2006. Our finance columns have been reprinted on MSN, Yahoo Finance, US News, Business Insider, Money Magazine, and Time Magazine.

Like many news outlets our publication is supported by ad revenue from companies whose products appear on our site. This revenue may affect the location and order in which products appear. But revenue considerations do not impact the objectivity of our content. While our team has dedicated thousands of hours to research, we aren’t able to cover every product in the marketplace.

For example, Wise Bread has partnerships with brands including, but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, and Amazon.

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.

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?

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How to accept and make the best of a terrible gift

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links from which we receive a compensation (like Amazon for example). But they do not affect the opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is an independent, award-winning consumer publication established in 2006. Our finance columns have been reprinted on MSN, Yahoo Finance, US News, Business Insider, Money Magazine, and Time Magazine.

Like many news outlets our publication is supported by ad revenue from companies whose products appear on our site. This revenue may affect the location and order in which products appear. But revenue considerations do not impact the objectivity of our content. While our team has dedicated thousands of hours to research, we aren’t able to cover every product in the marketplace.

For example, Wise Bread has partnerships with brands including, but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, and Amazon.