by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Samantha is a very giving person. She gives to her family and her 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 whatís wrong?
The problem is that Samantha does not take care of herself. She works too hard, forgets to eat and eats junk food, doesnít play enough, and says yes when she really means no. Her Inner Child is abandoned most of the time 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 filling her heart with love and giving that love to others, she will get filled in return. She 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 itís selfish to take care of herself - that sheís loving only if she takes care of others. She was taught that she will feel fulfilled within when she gives to others, and that others will give back to her and fill up the emptiness within.
It doesnít 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 in 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 donít 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 that sucks energy from others when we are not bringing love to ourselves. Others may try to give to us, but itís a bottomless pit when we are not filling ourselves by taking loving care of our own feelings and needs.
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 someday that Samantha discovers the beauty of who she is and decides 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 God and from others. Until she is open to 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.