What Fills Inner Emptiness?By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
Are you a giving and caring person, even a spiritually connected person, yet you still feel inwardly empty?
Samantha is a very giving person. She gives to her family and friends. She volunteers at a local hospital and helps build homes for low-income families. She is a spiritual person who prays daily. Yet Samantha has a big empty space inside her, a black hole of sadness that nothing seems to fill. How can this be? She is doing everything right - doing service, praying and trying in many ways to be a good person - so what's wrong?
The problem is that Samantha does not take care of herself. She works too hard, forgets to eat and eats junk food, doesn't play enough, and says yes when she really means no. She continually abandons herself while she is so busy caring for others.
Samantha has never learned that she must bring love, not just to the level of her heart and then out to others, but to the level of her own feelings - her inner child. She thinks that by giving love to others, she will get love in return, and wonders why she still feels so empty inside.
The only one who can begin to fill that emptiness within her is Samantha, and that occurs only when Samantha cares about herself - her own feelings and needs - at least as much as she cares about others. However, Samantha was taught that it's selfish to take care of herself - that she's loving only if she takes care of others. She was taught that she will feel fulfilled within when she gives to others - that others will give back to her and fill up the emptiness within.
It Doesn't Work That Way
When we are not filling ourselves by attending to our own feelings, needs and well-being, we will feel empty and alone inside. When we are not asking a higher source of guidance throughout the day what is loving to ourselves - what is in our highest good - and taking loving action on our own behalf, we will be empty within, no matter how much we do for others and no matter how much others do for us. We are the only ones, in connection with a spiritual source of love, who can fill up the inner emptiness.
Samantha is confused about the difference between selfishness and self-responsibility. She is actually being selfish by not taking care of herself, because others are constantly worrying about her.
When we don't take on the responsibility of our own well-being, we will automatically pull on others energetically to fill the hole within us. An empty place within is like a vacuum, sucking energy from others when we are not bringing love to ourselves. Others may try to give to us, but it's a bottomless pit when we are not filling ourselves by taking loving care of our own feelings and needs.
Your Self-Abandonment May Be Heartbreaking To Others
I spent some time with Samantha when we worked together on a volunteer project. I could feel her sadness and inner aloneness the whole time I was with her and my heart broke for her. Here she is, a wonderful, giving woman who has spent her life in service, only to end up with a bottomless pit of sadness within. It was like watching child abuse, only the child who is being abused is her own inner child.
I hope that Samantha will someday open herself to practicing Inner Bonding, discovering the beauty of who she is, and deciding to care for herself in the same way she has always cared for others. I hope she learns to bring the spiritual love that she is connected with, down to the level of her own feelings first, before giving it out to others. Actually, Samantha needs to learn to do this to save her own life, because it is evident to me that she is getting more and more depleted by giving to others, while not receiving from Spirit and others the energy and love she needs. Until she is giving to herself, she does not even know when she is being given to by others. Until she loves herself, she will not feel the love of others. Others' love is fulfilling only when we are also loving ourselves.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Photo by Jeremy Cai
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A sense of entitlement is common these days. People who feel entitled believe that they are more important than others and that their needs should come first. They are the takers. Caretakers support the takers. Caretakers believe they are not as important as others, that their needs should come last. Takers need to practice compassion for others. Caretakers need to practice compassion for themselves.
By Dr. Margaret Paul