Four Gifts You’ll Never Want

Imagine you are gifted four boxes. In each one is a present just for you.


Well, trust me, you won’t be for long. These are not bestowals you’d want; in fact, you will wish to give every one of them back.

The bad news is, you can only give one back.

Just one.

You will have to deal with the other three as best you can.

So, in a moment – after you take a peek – think carefully about which is the worst of the four for you. The one that elicits the most visceral, punched-in-the-gut feeling is probably the box you need to get rid of.

Are you ready to examine your gifts?

Okay, then:

Box 1 is full of Rejections and Hassles

Box 2? Brimming with Criticism and Ridicule

Box 3 is stuffed with Meaninglessness and Unimportance

Box 4? Laden with Stress and Pain

They are all pretty bad, right?

But, which one is absolutely intolerable?

Please make your rejection decision now.

Your choice of which box to ditch communicates a great deal about what motivates you. It is a valuable glimpse at the preferences and aversions that inform your behavior every day.

Think again about the box you conspire to be rid of.

If you are returning Box 1, Rejections and Hassles are what you prefer to avoid above all. Being accepted and cared for is of prime importance to you. You are represented by a chameleon.

If Box 2 repels you, then Criticism and Ridicule are likely your biggest aversions. Having control and respect are your prime motivators. You are represented by an eagle.

If Box 3 is your poison, Meaninglessness and Unimportance are verboten to you. Appreciation and recognition are what you value most. You are represented by a lion.

If you reject Box 4, avoiding Stress and Pain are your biggest displeasures. Ease and comfort are your primary goals. You are represented by a turtle.



Our faculty and staff recently participated in this TOP CARD activity (designed and complied by Lynn Lott, M.A., M.F.T.) at a school-wide meeting, recognizing that understanding what motivates each other is helpful in building a positive community.

In other words, it is useful to know what animal I am, and what critters surround me.

Of course, these labels are generalizations; we are all composites to varying degrees. And – accurate or not – this exercise illuminates perspectives and orientations that we may be unaware of:

“I say ho-hum to hassles, but whatever you do, please don’t criticize me!”

“Oh, I can handle criticism, but do not diminish my importance!”

“I don’t mind being overlooked in the least, but I cannot tolerate stress!”

I can handle stress – no problem, but please don’t leave me out!”

Behind each of these statements is an individual with a set of hierarchies informing a pattern of behavior.

So, the next time you are confounded or confused by someone’s actions or attitude – be it student, colleague, family, or friend – remind yourself that your pleasure might be their poison, and their toxin might be your elixir.

Knowing that might make all the difference.

Chameleon, turtle, lion, or eagle –

Who are you?

4 thoughts on “Four Gifts You’ll Never Want

  1. This was interesting and difficult to choose only one set of problems, but I’m a turtle. I’m my own worst critic but I’m used to hassles. I don’t feel a need to control situations but I want respect. I try to let things roll off my back. . I tolerate stress but it develops in some type of health issue…


  2. I really, really dislike these types of tests. People have so many different characters, qualities, fears, history, experiences… it seems just wrong to classify them like this. For the fun of it, I did play and I would be a turtle.

    Liked by 1 person

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