“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.”

Jim Carrey

Selfless giving is touted as being praiseworthy. When taken out of context, it seems like a beautiful act: you put yourself aside to help your neighbor.

However, if put into the context of a endlessly self-less giver – that is, someone who gives to others before himself – it can become a recipe for disaster.

Many roles in our society today require us to put our needs before others: being a parent, being dedicated or committed to our jobs, or being the poster child for demanding expectations within our upbringing. But consider that…

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

This is why selfless love doesn’t really exist for one of two reasons.

First, we’re neurologically wired to be self-preserving. We engage in actions that serves to maintain the existence of our ego, or personality.

Second, if we attempt to pour from an empty cup, we share contaminated love. That is, the love we try and give to others has been adulterated with expectations of return or worse yet, we’re sharing something contaminated with shame: stemming from a lie that we can’t learn to self-love. We can’t give what we don’t have; if you don’t have self-love, you can’t give authentic love to another.

And sometimes in life, we’re given just the right opportunity to understand this thoroughly.

The majority of my one-on-one work directly deal with those who have either been on the receiving end of this nugget of truth or been on the giving end:

When we don’t receive authentic love, we search our whole lives for it outside of ourselves (instead of looking for it in the only place it exists).

And when we attempt to give something to others that which we do not have for ourselves, we plant the seed of resentment and stories of victimization in our hearts.

This is precisely how we give away our power.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. I was taught selfless giving was the ultimate act of love, not understanding that it comes with the caveat of filling my own cup first.

Ask my husband how I showed up on a day-to-day basis when we first began dating more than 12 years ago: restless, argumentative, spiteful (he’s a saint, I know).

What sorts of questions do we ask ourselves if we’ve planted resentment?

  • Why is she always late for dinner?
  • How dare he disrespect me like that?
  • Why can’t people understand me?
  • Why is he always so selfish and only think of himself?

What sorts of narratives show up when we’ve planted seeds of victimization?

  • I can’t do what I love to do because of my circumstances.
  • I’ll never have the partner of my dreams because it’s just not in my cards.
  • It’s so-and-so’s fault that I don’t have the business I wanted to start.
  • If only my partners didn’t backstab me, I’d be set for life.

Have you fallen into this trap? If so, let me know some questions or narratives that you hear, and how you can change that story, now.

I’d love to hear more about how you’ll be giving back to yourself, how you’ll start taking steps toward yourself into complete, self-full, self-love. Plug in your thoughts below!

Live with Intention. Inspire with Love.