In the 1980s, Black Friday, as we know it today, was born. Nearly 40 years later, a single day of deals has evolved into an entire weekend of shopping. Let’s get one thing straight: there is nothing wrong with buying things you need or want. The tricky part is that sometimes we throw money at problems that require another solution. For example, if you want to feel more confident, you could buy new clothes or purchase exercise equipment. Or, you could try to understand the source of your low self-esteem. If you and your spouse cannot stop arguing, you could buy him/her the most expensive gift you can afford. Or, you can hold their hand and say you’re committed to doing whatever you can to strengthen your relationship.

It’s interesting that we focus on giving gifts during the holidays, even though gift giving is only one way to show we care. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five ways we give and receive love: quality time, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, and words of affirmation. In order to speak our loved one’s love language, we need to be thoughtful and creative. I think we can all agree that a present that you scrambled to buy, cursing under your breath, is probably not the best way to express your affection.

This weekend, take a moment to think about what you and your loved ones really want. If it’s [insert amazing, thoughtful gift], then buy it! But, if it’s something a little less tangible, challenge yourself to step away from the stores. Retail stores promise that a single item will transform your life and relationships. While this isn’t true, you can invest in your well-being and the health of your relationships. Therapy is not the solution to every problem, but it can help you get what you want out of life. This holiday season, give a gift that will transform your life for years to come.

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