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Individual Gifts: They’re A Blessing, They’re A Curse

Some short time ago, a highly enlightened person made the following statement ‘Individual gifts are a blessing and they are a curse’. At first this statement kind of just came and went, briefly echoing through the airwaves only to trail off in the fading memories of any subconscious minds in earshot. In short, the statement, at first glance, seemed to be fleeting and inconsequential, not leaving any significant impact in the forefront of any person’s mind.

                As time elapsed and a few days passed by, this simple statement began to find its way to the surface of this writer’s mind again. Because of this resurfacing reality, one needs to ask their self ‘Why is this statement reentering the conscious mind, providing new thought?’ Not willing to simply discard the reemergence of these thoughts, the mental dissemination process soon spread its wings to soar toward additional meanings and understandings.

                Let’s get the statement fresh in our mind again ‘Individuals gifts, they’re a blessing, they’re a curse’. Now, what possible meanings can we extrapolate from this simple yet compelling statement? To thoughtfully answer this question, it may be best to illustrate with a few real-life interactive examples that transpire between people. Let’s see what we can cook up. As we go through a couple of numbered examples, please keep the statement in mind (gifts, they’re a blessing, they’re a curse). 

Example 1 – Deanna is blessed with an incredible memory. Without a doubt, her memory is a gift and a personal asset. Because of this gift, Deanna has a consistent and uncanny ability to recall almost every detail from past conversations with any individual she has encountered, providing perfect conversational connectors to new dialogues. In essence, Deanna’s memory permits her to tell a quick joke from a past conversation, charm the individual, and take the lead in the new conversation. In one respect, this is a huge positive – Deanna can easily keep a dialogue going while avoiding extensively long, awkward pauses.

                At the same time, Deanna’s memory is a curse without her knowing it. Why is this individual gift a curse you may be wondering? It is a curse because Deanna may not realize that this gift can make her very domineering and intimidating during conversation. It is almost like her memory does not allow the other person in the conversation any maneuvering room, thereby tending to make the other person a follower in the conversation all of the time. The other person is always just trying ‘to keep up’ and not make any slip-ups. In short, Deanna’s vast memory gets in her own way, unknowingly making others feel inadequate or ‘not good enough’. Eventually, as is bound to happen, Deanna outcasts herself from the individual (or group) by over-utilizing her gift to the point of it becoming an interactive curse.

 Example 2 – Joey is very articulate. In fact, Joey is fantastically fluent when it comes to expressing his thoughts through spoken language. If anyone is looking for a few minutes of their time to get eaten up, they inevitably seek out Joey. In some social arenas, Joey is renowned for having ‘verbal diarrhea’.  It goes without saying that Joey is an expert at slinging words off the end of his tongue. Loquaciousness is, without a doubt, Joey’s gift.

                While his gift may be wonderful for creating conversations and enhancing social connectivity, Joey is not aware that his gift is also a curse. In spending 10-15 minutes with Joey, most people begin to look for cotton balls to stuff in their ears. In other words, Joey talks too much. He does not know when to stop talking and, as a result, does not know when it is time to commence listening – an activity that is largely foreign to him. Although Joey can be witty and devilishly charming, he typically has people forcing smiles to their face in half-hearted acceptance and social engagement. Without knowing it, Joey eventually has people looking for exit signs or a door to an adjacent room.

                In these 2 examples (Joey & Deanna), we see how 2 gifts (fantastic memory, articulateness) can actually teeter toward the side of ‘curse’. When we have too much of a gift, it tends to inevitably manifest as an extreme behavior. In our 2 cases; recalling too much (not leaving room for others to remember), and sharing too many thoughts (forgetting to listen and talking endlessly).

                ‘Individual Gifts – They’re A Blessing, They’re a Curse’.                               

                Next time you feel absolutely energized by a gift you feel you have, remember – you might be overdoing it. And, you may be eliciting an extreme behavior that is hard for others to understand and even harder for them to accept during interaction.

                There is no need to deny the existence of your gifts – they are there. Think about how you can foster the emergence of someone else’s gifts and give yourself a bit of a rest.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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