How Giving to Get Love Backfires

I’m working with a life coach and we have been discussing themes in my life. There is a theme of giving until it doesn’t feel good that permeates my history   Whether, it is with work or  a relationship, I constantly find myself in a situation where I feel unappreciated. I thought the problem was outside of me. I thought that people just didn’t see me for who I really am. But, people are just people and I am attracting them to my life to mirror my belief about myself.

I have deep belief that I am not good enough. Somewhere, I got the message that no one would ever really love me. I have been acting out that message throughout my life. The reason why I feel unappreciated is because I don’t appreciate myself. I’m constantly looking at all the things that I consider weakness instead of believing in my strengths. I’m great at being the cheerleader for everyone else, but I am terribly hard on myself. I won’t let myself off the hook.

The fear of not being loved turned me into a perfectionist. When I do things right, I get smiles. When I save the day or give until it hurts, I feel like people will give me their love in return. It rarely works out that way. What starts out as giving can easily turn into being used when people realize that you won’t complain. It results in resentment in both people. You resent being exploited while the person resents you for not setting boundaries in the relationship. You become the person that they call for something, but not the person that they protect and love.

“Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.”- Indian Monk, as quoted by Elizabeth Gilbert in “Confessions of an OverGiver”, O Magazine December 2011

Over the years, I have gotten better at telling people what I won’t do. But, I still find myself doing things I don’t want to do in order to get love. It was only when my life coach told me that I don’t have “sell my soul” that a light-bulb went off in my head. I have been giving all of me and allowing less than that in return and I simply don’t have to. I have decided that if I don’t feel charitable, then I shouldn’t give anymore. My time, my love and my heart are precious gifts. I will give those to anyone that is willing to return with the same. If you don’t care about protecting me and loving me in a way that I can feel it, then I can’t give everything to you. This is in relationships and work situations as well.

I, mistakenly, thought that you just give love away. I didn’t understand that people have to earn it. You can love them for who they are, but you don’t have to give them your heart and soul unless they will give you the same. So now, it will take me a minute before I commit to anything. I have to figure out my intention. If my intention is to receive love, praise, or recognition, I am not doing it for the right reason. Love is not a bartering system.  There shouldn’t be keeping a running tab in your head. With family and children, we come from a place of love and we express our love through our actions. Friendships and relationships should be the same. Both people should be expressing their love for each other through their actions. If someone loves you, it should be for who you are and not for what you can give them.

My journey now is to change those inner beliefs. My greatest love affair is with myself. If I love myself the way I should, I won’t allow myself to be used by other people. I will give from a place of love instead of a place of lack. I have many qualities that don’t cost a dime or require me to break a sweat. And when I am no longer on this earth, I don’t think people will remember the Christmas gift I got them in 2010. I think they will remember how I made them feel. I hope it’s loved, which is priceless.