Core Gifts are the most tender, passionate, and authentic parts of us. They lie at the very heart of our ability to love. To embrace them is to be guided inexorably to deeper love, greater authenticity, and our very life-mission. To ignore them is to commit an act of quiet violence against ourselves. Join Ken Page in this episode to discover, nourish, and embrace your own Core Gifts.

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Show Notes:


  • The Hunger To Be Accepted By Our Ultimate Parent
  • The Hunger To Be Shared
  • The Hunger To Cultivate Our Gift’s Opposite
  • The Hunger For Discipline And Development
  • The Hunger For Connectedness With The World


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How can you identify your deepest Core Gifts and how can you strengthen, empower, and nourish them in a way that transforms your life and your search for love? Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast to learn how.

Welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book Deeper Datingand the Cofounder of, which is a new and revolutionary platform for single people to meet in ways that are kinder, more inspiring, and emotionally safer. Today, I’m going to be talking about how you can identify and empower and nourish your Core Gifts, which are the attributes that are the most essentially you and really hold the key to your success in your intimacy journey. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, honor the love that you find, and keep it flourishing while you heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy, and the skills of intimacy are the greatest and most important skills of our lives.

If you want to learn more about my work and receive some free gifts and hear about a lot of different resources, just go to Deeper Dating Podcast and you’ll also find transcripts of every episode there. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review. Your reviews have been so beautiful and powerful and mean so much to me and kind of helped this project along. Thank you so much for that.

Let’s jump in. I want to talk about the great hungers of your Core Gifts. Your Core Gifts are the most tender, sensitive, and passionate parts of you. They’re the places where you care the most and you feel the most, where you get most wounded and most inspired. They’re kind of the blueprint to understanding how you work in the world, what your mission is, what matters to you, and what is your language of love, and what are your languages of intimacy. We find our Core Gifts whenever we feel the most vulnerable and the most authentic, the most creative, the most passionate. As I describe in my book, Deeper Dating®, they lie at the very heart of your creativity and your love. If we open to these Core Gifts, they guide us inexorably to what matters most to us. When we ignore them, which is so easy to do, we commit an act of quiet violence against ourselves.


Core Gifts: We have been trained that the most essential parts of ourselves are embarrassing, get us in trouble, hurt us, or can’t be seen or shown.


In this episode, I’m going to help you discover your own Core Gifts and I’m going to talk about the five great hungers that these Core Gifts have. The parts of them that need to be fed and as you feed them, they become richer, stronger, more empowered, and they guide your life more powerfully. Of course, when they do, that means you’re leading with your heart, that means you’re leading with your soul, that means you’re leading with your essence and your truth. When you do that, the heft of your being, the power of your heart, in your kind of innate nature takes form in such important ways.

Let’s talk about what your Core Gifts are. To discover what your Core Gifts are, which is the work of a lifetime, you can begin by asking yourself three very particular questions and then studying your life, studying your days and your minutes and your hours to see what the answers are. You’ll learn such usually important things about yourself when you do that. Here are the three questions. What qualities in you have led to your greatest experiences of joy? Now, that’s a complicated question. The first thing you would need to think about is, what have been your greatest and richest moments of joy. Maybe just think of a few of those really rich moments and then think, what’s an attribute of yours that led you to that joy. You can pause as often as you want for this podcast or you could just keep going and answer the questions as we go.

Next question. What sensitivities in you have led to your deepest suffering? Then there’s that same process there where you think, “What have been my experiences of deepest suffering? Where do I suffer the most deeply? What are the sensitivities in me that are triggered by things that make me suffer?” These are core gift places, and then finally, what do you long to create or do in the world? What is there longing for in you? These also speak to Core Gifts Just in thinking about those questions, you can see that your answers, that this touches profoundly deep roots of your being, the deepest roots of your being and these core gift qualities need to be named, cherished, and fed by us if they’re going to flourish.

The Hunger To Be Accepted By Our Ultimate Parent

To thrive in this world, each gift that we have needs to be nourished in five particular ways. As I run through these five ways, just notice if any idea strikes a deep chord in you and if it does, again, you might just want to pause just to reflect on its personal meaning for you. The first thing that your Core Gifts need, first and foremost, is to feel accepted by their ultimate parent and that’s you, but that’s not always so simple because we get frightened by the intensity of our passion, for example. We get punished for the intensity of our passion, or we get punished for speaking truth, or we get punished for living and acting outside our prescribed gender roles, or we get stepped on because of our tenderness.


Your Core Gifts are the most tender, sensitive, and passionate parts of you. Share on X


So many different ways that we have been trained that these most precious parts of ourselves, the most original and true and essential parts of ourselves are embarrassing, get us in trouble, hurt us, can’t be shown, can’t be seen, etc. Maybe you have felt this experience. I know I’ve been frightened by the intensity of my passion, all different kinds of passion. I know that I have felt many times that my heart was too tender to survive in the cold commerce of day-to-day life. Maybe you’ve felt something like that too, or that fear that if you really shared what you thought, and felt or wanted to express, that you’d be rejected or punished or misunderstood.

All of these things point to our truth, our genius, our heart, our Core Gifts, and our authenticity. You know, many of us have been deeply hurt many times in each of the ways that I just mentioned. We learn to treat our gifts almost like children that we secretly love but publicly can feel embarrassed by. We treat our gifts gingerly. We create airbrushed versions of them that won’t get us in trouble. Most of us feel ambivalent about our Core Gifts and we know they’re the truest parts of ourselves but they scare us and for good reason because they are powerful, fierce, true, and essential, and spring from roots that are so not prefab. They’re so authentic, they’re so original and alive that it’s just scary to go with them.

My parents were Holocaust survivors. I’ve talked about them a number of times. They learned the hard way that weakness meant death and I grew up as a boy in the ’50s and the ’60s who was a really sensitive kid and I was really ashamed of my sensitivity. I was embarrassed by how I was moved to tears in movies and humiliated by the intensity of my emotional responses to other people’s suffering and pain. So many things, joys and pains, knocked me down at the knees. They were hard for me to bear and I had a beautiful secret world where I loved and treasured these things, but I was also ashamed of them when it came to living them in the world, which meant that socially I was ashamed of them, which meant that there was a circuitry and a pathway that was going to lead to a lot of unhappiness in later years in my romantic life.

Going back to then, I knew that my sensitivity was a weakness. Now, I know the opposite is true. I know that my weakness was my lack of respect for my own sensitivity. My weakness was in my terror of dignifying that sensitivity and that’s been one of the greatest, hardest, and richest lessons in my life. That sensitivity is one of my Core Gifts. I think that my best writing and my best work as a teacher and a psychotherapist springs from those very qualities I always thought I had to hide that were mortifying to me.


Core Gifts: To help our gifts mature in the world, we need to help cultivate their opposite so that we can use them more wisely.


What does this touch for you? What are qualities like that, that are kind of coming into your consciousness as I’m saying these things, parts of yourself that are very alive and very true, that it’s been a journey to learn to dignify and treasure and honor? This work of deep self-acceptance doesn’t involve building some larger than life self-confidence, which is why I’m always troubled by dating advice that just tells you to be more confident. That’s easy to do when you’re feeling confident, but when you’re not feeling confident, that means that you just kind of need to fake it. What are the skills when you’re not feeling confident of being able to somehow still be confident in your not confidentness? I think those skills are saying, what’s not making me feel safe now? What’s not making me feel confident and honoring that and making space for it?

That to me is true rich, self-dignifying, and kind of the antithesis of this model of faking confidence so that you look sexier. It’s really more about a moment-to-moment acceptance of your currents of experience and emotion running through every moment of your days. Our Core Gifts are always trying to get us to listen to them, like a kid is always trying to get his or her parents or their parents to listen to them. Our Core Gifts are trying to do that sometimes in a gentle whisper, sometimes in a painful shout, sometimes in sullen, angry silence, but as long as we’re alive, our Core Gifts are going to be waiting for us to love them and accept them and to finally give them their freedom.

The Hunger To Be Shared

Another hunger of our Core Gifts is the hunger to be shared. Giving and being given to are not luxuries, they’re imperatives. What water is to a plant, generosity is to your gifts. We all hunger to give. We need to give. We long for children. We long for pets. We long for loved ones because unfettered giving is one of life’s absolute joys. Our Core Gifts must be given and they must touch others, and we must see this happening before we can ever truly feel like we’re worthy. In my many, many, many years of practice as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen that my clients who are generous are the ones who are the most capable of happiness. It’s the ones who cherish and honor and water their generosity that have the happiest and richest lives, not always, but essentially, I find and in the long run, I really find that to be true. Which of your gifts are you longing to share?

The Hunger To Cultivate Our Gift’s Opposite

Here’s an interesting one. This is the third gift and that is your gift’s cultivation of its opposite or your cultivation of your gift’s opposite. What do I mean by that? In order for our gifts to have legs in the world, we need to develop their complementary opposite quality inside us. Our tenderness needs bravery if we’re going to ever share it with the world. If we’re visionaries and dreamers, we need to cultivate practicality for our creations to come to life. Practical people need to cultivate their dreamer self in order to create beauty in their lives. A generous person needs to cultivate his, her or their “no”. Really on some level, most of us would just kind of rather not do that work because it’s a hard uphill battle to cultivate the opposite quality of your dominant gifts but when you do it, something magnificent happens.


As long as we're alive, our Core Gifts are going to be waiting for us to love them and accept them. Share on X


You feel your self-respect growing. When we do that, we feel more solid, more self-confident and we like ourselves more. It’s that feeling of mastery which feels so good and is so central to a life that works. We feel more like adults, but we maintain the kid inside us as well. Our core gift properties will always probably remain dominant, and that’s fine because perfection isn’t the goal, a rich life where we can take care of ourselves is. To help our gifts mature in the world, we need to help cultivate their opposite, so that we can use them more wisely. This is something really interesting.

The less you’ve cultivated the opposite quality to your gifts, the more you’re going to be sexually and romantically attracted to people who carry that opposite quality in an extreme and not so great way. For example, somebody who’s really generous of spirit but can’t say no, is going to tend to be attracted to someone who is great at taking, but not so great at giving back. The more we cultivate these complementary qualities in ourselves, the more we’ll find ourselves attracted to people who appreciate our gifts and won’t take advantage of us.

The Hunger For Discipline And Development

Something else our Core Gifts hunger for is discipline and development. Our Core Gifts long to be respected enough, to be cultivated and developed. They hunger to test themselves to push past fears and obstacles and obstacle illusions. Just like a gifted child hungers to have her gift seen and acknowledged, our gifts hunger for that as well. They hunger for a mentor who honors them and gets them. They hunger for people who delight in their flights of excess, who shelter their vulnerability, and who send them out into the world to create and be shared. Creating that sense of inner-discipline is a rare accomplishment, and it takes time and effort. This is a poem that I really love by the great abstract painter Arthur G. Dove. “We have not yet made shoes that fit like sand nor clothes that fit like water nor thoughts that fit like air. There is much to be done.”

Our gifts aren’t stagnant. They really long to take us somewhere. They compel us to take a risk, to turn the next corner, to meet the next enemy, to devour our next limitation. They’re hungry for that. When we learn to call them gifts instead of imperfections, then they find freedom from that kind of crippling carefulness that we can treat them with when we’re timid and afraid. That’s when they become joyously, ferociously hungry for the next new learning, and that’s when life becomes truly exciting. I want to say something else about this too is that our Core Gifts have a quality of joyful excess. Not all Core Gifts, but many of them do. When we’re in touch with our Core Gifts, we get silly, we get ridiculous, we get playful, we get sensual, we get creative, we laugh, we cry.

The Hunger For Connectedness With The World

There’s a quality of bigness and vibrancy and a kind of enthusiastic excess that is just such a central part of one of the things that our gifts need, just one, but one of the things that our gifts need in the world. Now, I want to talk about the final hunger that our Core Gifts have. These hungers all include connectedness with the world, connectedness with people who treasure them, who can play with them, whose gifts we can cultivate. I think that’s kind of assumed in all the things I’m saying, that hunger for living in connection with others in the world.


Core Gifts: Our gifts aren’t stagnant. They long to take us somewhere and compel us to take risks.


This last one which is greatness, your Core Gifts hunger for greatness, but just like we’re rethinking the meaning of gifts, let’s also rethink the meaning of greatness. Greatness is not necessarily fame or success. It’s really something much more humbling, and kind of much more exalted, and much more challenging. As we feed these hungers of our Core Gifts, we find ourselves touching the hem of some kind of felt greatness. One that might not even have words. We sense that we’re closer to some unknown, unnamed kind of native land with a really big open sky, that’s so broad, that we may never fully encompass it, but maybe we’ve been homesick for that greatness our entire lives.

I think that our love of fame is a kind of cheapened expression for this hunger for personal greatness. I know for me, sometimes when I’m with my family, when I’m with the people I love, I’m hit by a quiet happiness that’s so strong that it almost burns. It feels huge and kind of heart swelling but so simple. That’s the greatest greatness to me. What are the greatnesses that your gifts yearn for? Take a moment to think about that and answer it for yourself.

The Buddhists teach that we have seeds of suffering and seeds of joy inside us, and they never go away, they remain latent. What determines our life is the seeds that we water and the seeds that we allow to remain latent. When you water the seeds of your Core Gifts, your life blossoms and your intimacy life blossoms, and your ability to hold and cherish the tenderness and beauty of intimacy grows and increases and expands. I encourage all of you if you want to go to Deeper Dating Podcast and click on Ask Ken, share with me your experiences of trying these exercises, of feeding these great hungers of your great Core Gifts and let me know how that goes. Let the community of other listeners learn about how that goes. Thank you so much for listening and blessings in your journey to feed the powerful hungers of your innate Core Gifts. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast in two weeks.


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