Today I share a process with three simple steps that we can use to discover our deepest Core Gifts. In this episode, I explain what our Core Gifts are and how they fit into my formula for wiser dating. Too often we tend to ignore our Core Gifts out of misplaced guilt or shame, so I share what can happen if, rather than run from these Core Gifts, we choose to lead with them. I also share a cautionary example of what happens when you ignore your Core Gifts.

Listen to this episode to learn questions to ask to identify your Core Gifts and how to use your Core Gifts in the dating world.

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Show Notes:


  • What are Core Gifts
  • How can we discover our Core Gifts
  • Tips for identifying your Core Gifts
  • What happens when you ignore your Core Gifts
  • The formula for wiser dating
  • Questions to ask to identify your Core Gifts
  • How to use your Core Gifts


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6 month coaching and mentorship intensive with Ken Page


How To Discover Your Deepest Core Gifts: A 3-Step Process


Hello everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist, a coach, author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating®, and the founder of the Deeper Dating® Intensive. Today, we’re going to talk about what Core Gifts are and how you can discover yours. This lies at the very heart and soul of everything I teach, because our Core Gifts lie at the very heart and soul of us and who we are. I’m very excited about this episode.

I just want to say that in this episode, and in every episode, what I strive to do is to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating have to be the skills of intimacy, and the skills of intimacy have to be the greatest skills of all for a happy and rich life. If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® approach to intimacy, please just go to There, you can sign up for my mailing list, you can see all the transcripts of my various episodes, and you can get free gifts and eBooks that help you understand this approach in a much deeper, richer way.

But before we dive in, I just want to read a message that I got yesterday that was so beautiful and meant so much to me. This is from Jen, and she said, “I just want to thank you for everything you do. Over a year ago, my therapist recommended your podcast as I was preparing to start dating again. I listened to your podcast on my way to and from dates and just around my house, so often. This week, I got engaged to the most loving and supportive and gentle soul. He’s the kind of person I had given up on finding for a long time. Thank you so much for the part you play in helping people find the love that they deserve.”

Jen, thank you so much for that, so beautiful and inspiring to hear. I invite all of you as well to write back. When you get on my mailing list, you will have my email, or also on social media, and let me know your story, your journey, your questions as well. But this just gave me such joy to hear. What we’re going to talk about today around Core Gifts is the heart and soul of how that process happens.


The places that we often feel the most insecurity and the most shame are exactly where our Core Gifts lie. Click To Tweet


This last weekend, I had two speaking engagements where I had to kind of put together the heart and soul of the concept of Core Gifts, which is at the heart of my work, into 15-minute talks. I think I was able to do that, and I’m really excited about that because in this short podcast episode I’m going to take you through the steps to understand what Core Gifts are and to give you a glimpse of some of your own and an understanding of the profound shifts that happen when we make those parts of ourselves our central treasure and learn to lead with them. Okay, let’s jump in and do that.

We know that the mating instinct is so profound and so central in evolution. It’s the propagation of the species, there’s an urgency, there’s an imperative to that mating instinct. We know that for us, as human beings, it seems that research shows that the quality of our spousal relationship is the single greatest determinant, even over health, of the quality of our lives. Which doesn’t mean that if you’re single, you can’t have a wonderful life, but it means that the intimacy in our lives is the single greatest determinant of our joy and our meaning and our sense of mission and our sense of home in the world.

The mating instinct is a kind of biological imperative. Sex is such a driving force, the desire for love is such a driving force, and the reality of what a huge difference it makes in our lives is such a driving force. Something this big, this central, this essential, how could it not be linked to our deepest emotional issues and to our overall growth?

The concept of Core Gifts is a way of understanding how the impulse to mate, the impulse to find love, and the impulse to grow in our lives, all are actually connected together. It’s a synthesis of all of those different things and how does that work? Essentially, it boils down to this, the degree to which we are brave enough and radical enough to honor our souls, to lead with our souls, to help these Core Gifts evolve and grow and live in the world is the determinant of our happiness, and also, to a huge degree, the determinant of our ability to find beautiful, healthy, sustaining, nourishing, lasting love.


How To Discover Your Deepest Core Gifts: A 3-Step Process


What are Core Gifts: The concept of Core Gifts is a way of understanding how the impulse to mate, the impulse to find love, and the impulse to grow in our lives all are actually connected together.

The degree to which we treasure what is at our core is the degree to which we can live a life that is balanced and healing and radiant with the mystery and the beauty and the possibility of who we are. How do we get to this part of ourselves? How do we get to this part that I call our Core Gifts?

This is a story that I tell in my book about this. I was like eight years old and I was doing this maze puzzle in the kitchen. My mom came in and she said, “Oh, do you know how to cheat at doing a maze?” I said, “No, tell me,” because I love cheating at things like that. She said, “Here, just take your pencil and put it right in the center of the maze, the center point that is the one you want to get to, the very, very center.” She said, “Now, you’ll immediately know the pathway out.” She was right, it absolutely worked.


What are Core Gifts


Now, that’s a very simplistic example, but it says something huge. When we approach our search for love, and really our life, from the outside in, we hit baffle after baffle as we look to achieve our goals. When we start at the center of our being with a sense of treasuring and honoring and listening to the impulses, to the wisdom, to the essence that’s generated from that place, oh my God, do we save time and do we stop ourselves from banging into walls.

The formula that I have seen, and I talk about all the time here, is this. The degree to which we treasure, not just accept, but treasure and back and champion and honor and listen to our Core Gifts is the degree to which we’re going to end up sexually and romantically attracted to people who are good for us. How amazing is that? It’s the point where the imperative of evolution and growth meets the imperative of mating and finding love. The same approach works for both, which makes perfect sense.


The concept of Core Gifts lies at the very heart and soul of everything I teach because Our Core Gifts lie at the very heart and soul of us and who we are. Click To Tweet


Meister Eckhart, the Christian mystic, said that there’s a way to make a perfect circle, and the way to do that is to always start at the center. Your Core Gifts lie at the center. I’m going to teach you in this episode, really quickly, how to name some of yours. We’re almost up to that. I’m just going to explain a little bit more, that when we don’t do that, our Core Gifts are the essence of who we are.

The image that I use is the image of a maze or the image of a target, that the closer you get in toward the bullseye, the closer you’re getting in toward the bullseye of your authenticity. The further out you get, the more airbrushed you are, the more distant you are from the deep beating heart of your humanity, the fire, the expansion, the caring, the emotion, the everything that lies in that hot center of our being. The cooler we get, the more protected we get, and ultimately the more empty we end up feeling.

Why is that? Well, I think that what happens is when we deny or don’t really honor our Core Gifts, there’s a vacuum. There’s an emptiness at the heart of us because those are the heart of who we are. Nature abhors a vacuum. We are creating a vacuum where our authenticity should be, and that’s always going to punish us. That leads pretty much always to masochistic situations, because there’s a missingness at the center so we’re wobbly, we’re off.

Imagine a wheel that has a center that’s not there, well, I guess I don’t know if that would be possible, but a center that’s off, the wheel would be wobbly. That is what happens to us when we don’t start with that incredibly brave and scary act of saying authentically, what am I feeling right now, how can I live with that, how can I honor it, the juicy glorious questions and the questions that are the foundation of true, healthy, radical maturity.

I’m just going to share one more image. I don’t know, it’s a kind of silly image, but it’s a really rich one. It is the Indiana Jones kind of thing, that adventure story where there’s a temple, it’s a sacred temple, the more you move in toward its sacred center, the holy of holies, the more the guards come up to get you, the more you get close to the great treasure. It’s the same with going inside.

We cannot just go to our center and have it be like … Well, sometimes we can, but often, to go to the heated core of our being, it’s frightening. The expansion scares us, the joy scares us, the wounds scare us, because this central place is a matrix. It holds the places we care the most, hence, it holds our greatest joys, but it holds our deepest hurts. It’s not like we could just walk in, we need to learn little by little to honor that part of ourselves and to listen to it, but the key is always to honor.

But anyway, it’s kind of like that journey. It’s scary to go to the center and it’s sacred to go to the center. The simple, simple, simple formula for wiser dating is lead with your Core Gifts and look for the people with whom your soul feels essentially safe as you do that. Okay, so let’s jump into this process right now.


How To Discover Your Deepest Core Gifts: A 3-Step Process

Treasure your Core Gifts: The degree to which we treasure what is at our core is the degree to which we can live a life that is balanced and healing and radiant with the mystery and the beauty and the possibility of who we are.


I’m going to have you think about this in three different ways. We’re going to approach three different facets, three different avenues to recognize some of your Core Gifts. Not all of these three might work, or pretty good chance all three of them actually will work for you. Maybe two, maybe one, maybe three, it doesn’t matter, I am pretty certain that at least one of them will. That’s a Core Gift place.

The places that we feel often the most insecurity and the most shame are exactly where our Core Gifts lie, because we care so much in this place that we either get really hurt or we suppress these parts of ourselves, which is a trauma in its own right, or we act them out, which is a trauma in its own right. These are scary places, the places of the highest charge of our being, but they are our soul, they are our children. They’re asking to be guided and to listen to so that they can emerge so that we can be us.

Okay, first, think about a part of you where you have felt too tender for the world, like, “Oh my God, I feel things so strongly. I’m not made for the world. I’m too weak, I’m too soft, I feel too much.” Has that been something that’s true for you? A part of you where you feel that you feel things so deeply that it makes you different and that it makes it hard to live in the world?

Take a minute to think about that. If there are any aspects of yourself that have felt that way, maybe in your childhood, maybe even currently to this day, take a moment and think about those, or one of those. That’s a Core Gift place, when we feel that we’re too tender for the world, when the nerve endings of our heart are so sensitive that the world can be hard to bear, or we feel that we just don’t fit in. Hold that.

How did the world teach you that it was not okay to feel this much? How did the world teach you that supposedly that sensitivity is the opposite of confidence? How has this felt like a part of you that is too tender for the world? How has the world taught you that it’s not welcome? Take a minute to think about that. You could pause the recording too. Imagine if you held that part, as I’m certain that many of you are working on already, as a Core Gift, as a sacred central treasure that you were going to trust and listen to and trust your instincts around whom it feels safe to show that part of yourself.


Treasure your Core Gifts


Here’s another question to think of this from a different angle. Has there been a part of you that has felt too fierce for the world, too powerful? Maybe, if you’re a woman, you feel like the messaging is that it’s not feminine enough. Maybe you’ve done things from this place that have hurt other people, so you feel scared of that kind of power. Maybe it’s a power of ferocity of need that feels maybe embarrassing or awkward, or a ferocity for truth, or if a ferocity to grow and to create, or to be competitive.

How has the world taught you that that quality is not a treasure? Especially if it’s a ferocity and an intensity around need or longing or truth, all those things that can get us in trouble. Think about that. Think about how the world has somehow taught you that this is not something that is a force of nature to be honored and treasured and worked with and held as sacred and essential.


The degree to which we treasure what is at our core is the degree to which we can live a life that is balanced and healing and radiant with the mystery and the beauty and the possibility of who we are. Click To Tweet


Here’s the third one, a way that you have felt different from the world, emotionally divergent or your pace is different than the world’s pace. The way you experience emotions or the way you process your life experience makes you feel like maybe you’re from a different place, like you’re not from this tribe, you’re from somewhere different, or you just feel odd or different in the ways that you understand life, in the ways you want to move, the ways you want to act, the ways you want to react.

Take a minute to think about that. Those are Core Gifts of your deep creativity, of your uniqueness, and because we’re herd animals, they’re kind of scary or they can be scary. How has the world taught you that there’s not space for those parts of you? Again, you can pause.

I would just like to take a moment to honor the sadness and the loneliness that all of us have felt when the world tells us that these places are not treasures, that they need to be hidden, that they’re not allowed or accepted or sexy, or they will get in the way of our finding love, just to acknowledge the grief, the grief, the sadness that we have had to hold, the loneliness that we’ve had to hold in our hearts around that.


How To Discover Your Deepest Core Gifts: A 3-Step Process

Identify your Core Gifts: It’s scary to go to the center and it’s sacred to go to the center.


Now I want to ask you to pick one of those traits and think, has there been someone who has treasured and enjoyed and gotten a kick out of that part of you, one of those traits where there is someone in your life, it could even be a mythical figure, a historical figure, a spiritual figure, a pet, but one of those traits where someone or something has taught you this is a good thing and there actually is a place in the world for this. This is part of your genius, it’s part of your magic.

Take a minute and think about that. Just take a minute now and say the person’s name out loud. Take a minute, pause the recording if you can, to just riff on how it made a difference in your life to have someone who treasured this part of you and what it felt like for you to finally have that. Take a minute to riff on that, because these are foundational concepts. This is a way that we can discover our Core Gifts, by noticing what’s at the center that has felt like it hasn’t fit into the world. Our deepest insecurities reveal our greatest gifts, and of course our deepest joys also. Anything where we feel the most, those reveal our greatest gifts.

I want to share an archetypal story. This is having been a therapist for 35 years and been on my own journey of exactly this for so long, I’ve gotten to see long arc patterns. One of them is this, it’s this experience of if you imagine your Core Gift, one of the ones that you picked, as being a child that you love and protect who doesn’t do so well in the world, the message is they don’t fit in. Early, early on, we recognize that these parts of ourselves get in trouble in the world. It’s like we say, “I’m going to put you away. I’m going to hide you, because you’re not going to work if I want to have any kind of successful life.”

We put those parts of ourselves away and we walk into the world and have whatever degree of success we have, but of course, there’s a rope connecting us, a stretchy rope connecting us to these parts of us, because they’re us, they’re never not going to be us. At a certain point, our efforts, no matter how successful we’ve been, often in the area of intimacy, we get stopped short, the rope is not going to stretch anymore. That is a painful, hard thing, but man, it’s a good thing, because then we do this archetypal task of going back to those treasures, those children of ours that we have said no to.


Identify your Core Gifts


Edward Hallowell says this so beautifully. He says, “The child that needs your love is not the child you pictured you would have. It’s the child who’s in front of you right now.” The part of you that needs your love and care and grooming and nourishment is not the part of you that you are trying to gussy up and fix up to be successful in the world, as much as it’s these precious parts of you that will provide you with a path that is going to be so much more full of love and meaning.

We go back when our dating life, when our life hasn’t worked, we go back to what lives there, to these Core Gifts. We learn to lead with these qualities and then only look for people where we have a deep sense of safety and home. When we do that, our attractions, almost miraculously actually, begin to change. What happens to us is like what happens to that woman, to Jen, who sent that beautiful, beautiful message to me yesterday.

We realign and reorganize and we are drawn to, and we draw, healthy love so much more beautifully. What happens at the same time, we heal our lives, because this is the place where the imperative to evolve and the imperative to love and the imperative to mate all join together. It’s a sacred and important place, and that is why your search for love needs to be this profound, this real, this authenticity based, this sacred.

If you don’t feel like your world is changing and your dating life is changing, I encourage you to try these concepts, to hold them close to your heart, to try them. My podcast talks about it, my book talks about it, my audio course talks about it, my intensives talk about it. I just encourage you to continue exploring. Please reach out to me, let me know your thoughts and your feedback. Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I’ll connect with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.


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