What are your beliefs about what another’s love will give to you? Most of us grew up believing that another person should be our dependable source of love, yet this is the very thing that destroys many relationships. Are you using a partner or other people as your dependable source of love? We all need love. Discover the true dependable source of love and learn how to share love rather than always trying to get love from others.
Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Today I’m speaking about the topic of what you believe someone else’s love will give you, and what needs to happen for you to truly take in another’s love and be able to share your love with others.
Did you grow up believing that if only someone REALLY loved you in the way you needed to be loved, then you would feel happy, safe, lovable, and worthy?
When we were small children, our parents were supposed to be our source of love. They were supposed to access the love that is spirit and bring it to us. That was part of their job as loving parents.
The other major part of their job was to role-model accessing spirit as a dependable source of love for themselves.
As children, we needed our parents or other caregivers to be our source of love. We are too young to access the love we need by ourselves. Our parents were like Gods to us – they were our source of life and love.
Being truly loved by parents goes a long way toward supporting children in feeling safe and lovable, but it is not the whole story. Even if your parents did love you the way you needed to be loved, if they didn’t role-model loving themselves, then it is likely you absorbed their forms of self-abandonment – judging themselves, turning to various addictions to manage their feelings, and making each other and you responsible for their happiness, safety, pain, and sense of worth.
As we grew older, we were supposed to shift our focus from getting love from our parents to receiving the love from our higher source. Yet, because many parents don’t know how to do this for themselves, they are not able to adequately role model this for their children, so many people never learn to access the source of infinite love that is always available to us.
My parents did the best they could, but their best was far from what I needed to feel loved, safe, and worthy. Additionally, they role-modeled many controlling, self-abandoning strategies, which of course I absorbed.
Did you have parents who were dependable sources of love for you, as well as who role-modeled accessing spirit as a dependable source of love for themselves? Chances are the answer is no. Even if you had parents who were loving to you, it is unlikely that they were deeply connected with a personal source of spiritual love and were able to fill themselves with this love and joy on a consistent basis. Even if your parents believed in God, they may not have had a personal connection with a dependable source of love.
What most of our parents role-modeled was using others as their source of love.
Your mother might have pulled on your father to fill her with his love, attention, affection, and approval. Your father may have pulled on your mother to fill and validate him through sex, attention, affection, and approval. Both might have been angry, withdrawn, and blaming when the other person did not give them what they wanted and believed they needed from the other. In addition, each of them may have pulled on you to fill them as well. Perhaps you had to do well in school or sports, or you had to look good for them to feel that they were okay, or you were parentified and had to be the emotional parent or were used sexually by one or both of them.
Most of us grew up believing that another person should be our dependable source of love, and that this is what a loving relationship is all about. When we don’t end up feeling filled up and worthy, we might turn to various addictions to fill the emptiness. We might leave a relationship because we decide we have chosen the wrong person, hoping to find someone else who will fill the empty place within and define our worth through his or her love.
As adults, no one else can become your dependable source of love.
Regardless of whether or not you received the love you needed as a child, now that you are an adult, you need to become the vehicle through which flows the true and dependable source of love.
I grew up believing that if only a man would really see me and deeply value what he saw in me – and if he was consistently warm, caring, open, honest, gentle, tender, compassionate and sensitive, I would finally feel safe and worthy. I believed that his love is what I needed to feel happy and lovable.
The problem was that, even after I got married and even if he was being loving, I had learned to be so unloving to myself that his love barely made a dent in my sense of worth. I was right that love could give me all that I sought, but I was mistaken about where the love needed to come from.
External love feels wonderful, and the sharing of love with another is, in my experience, the highest experience in life. But as long as I was abandoning myself with my self-judgments, staying in my mind and ignoring my feelings, giving myself up to care-take others in the hopes they would love me; getting angry when I didn’t get the love I wanted, crying and being a victim as a form of control, and turning to various addictions such as food, worry and perfectionism, I was unhappy. It took me many years of searching for answers to understand that until I learned to give myself the love I needed, not only was I unable to share love with another, but that another’s love was the icing on the cake – not the cake itself.
My love for myself needed to form the foundation of my sense of worth, safety, and lovability. Realizing this many years ago has brought about profound changes in my life. Now I am the one who is consistently warm, caring, open, honest, gentle, tender, compassionate and sensitive with myself, and the more I am able to be this with myself, the more I am able to be this with others as well, and the more I am able to take in their love.
If you think about it, it makes so much sense that as adults, someone else can never be the consistent source of love that we all need. No one is with me 24/7, and even if they are a caring and sensitive person, they do not live inside my body and cannot know what I feel and need, moment by moment. As much as I would have loved for my fantasy to be true, there is no way it can be true. It took me time to fully accept this and let go of the hope of getting the love I needed from someone, but now I truly treasure the sacred privilege of taking loving care of my own body, mind, and soul.
As adults, many people are stuck in patterns of trying to get love and avoid pain.
- Do you try to get love by giving yourself up to others, hoping they will give you the love you need? Are you giving to get?
- Do you try to get others to love you through intimidation and guilt? Do you get angry, manipulative, or blaming to try to get others to give themselves up and give you what you want?
- Do you shut down and numb out with food, alcohol, drugs, TV, gambling, sex, work and so on to avoid the pain of loneliness and aloneness? Do you use addictions to avoid the pain of not feeling loved?
- Are you trying to make people, substances, things, or activities your source of love?
There is only one true source of love – the universe we live in, God, spirit, higher power, or whatever your concept of that is. God is Love, and that love is always around us and within us, but you will feel it only when your heart is open to learning about loving yourself.
As long as you are trying to get love from others, and avoid pain with your addictions, your heart is closed, and you cannot feel the love that is always here for you. When you practice Inner Bonding – shifting your intention away from getting love and avoiding pain, and toward loving yourself and sharing your love with others – you stop feeling empty, alone, and lonely. Only when you stop making people, things, activities, and substances your source of love, and turn to a spiritual source, will you feel the fullness of love within.
The key to this shift is to stop making others and addictions responsible for your feelings and decide to take responsibility for your own feelings of pain, joy, and wellbeing. When your intent shifts to learning about taking loving actions for yourself, you will learn how to fill yourself with love from your source and share that love with others.
The love I need is always here for me, for this is what spirit is. When my intent is to be loving to myself, the love that is spirit and the wisdom to take loving actions on my own behalf, enter my consciousness. Being loving to myself and sharing my love with others is a much more fulfilling way to live than always trying to get love.
There is only one dependable source of love and that is God, Spirit, Higher Power, or whatever else you want to call it. Love is God and God is love and any love that comes to us through another person is coming from spirit through that person.
You will continue to try to make another person your dependable source of love when you believe that someone else can bring the love you need to you better than you can, or that it means more when someone else does it than when you do it. These false beliefs may keep you from the love and joy that is your birthright.
You will feel the fullness of the love, peace, and joy that you seek only when you decide to accept the responsibility of opening your heart and bringing the love that is always all around you to your soul essence – your inner child. Not doing so would be like being surrounded by delicious food that is available to you and that you are physically capable of accessing but waiting for someone else to feed you. You not only might end up starving, but your inner child will feel abandoned by you. Even if someone else does feed you, it will not heal the pain your child feels when you do not care enough about yourself to feed yourself.
Just as you are capable of feeding yourself unless you are physically disabled, you are capable of accessing the love that is always available. It all depends upon your intent. As long as your intent is to make someone else your dependable source of love, your intent will be to control – constantly trying to get love from others. The moment you shift your intent to loving yourself, you will open the door to your wonderful, beautiful, ever-present, and totally dependable source of love!
Central to our wellbeing is knowing that we are okay – that we are worthy, adequate, and lovable. Feeling that we are okay can come from two different sources:
- Others’ attention and approval
- Our own loving adult connected with our spiritual guidance.
Codependency is the term used to describe the addiction to feeling okay through others.
Sara, a young and successful actress, is deeply addicted to feeling okay through others’ approval and attention.
She believes that her happiness comes from others giving her love, attention, and approval.
“Sara, what do you tell yourself when you receive attention and approval from others?” I asked her.
“I tell myself that I’m okay – that their approval means that I’m okay,” she answered.
“And what do you tell yourself when others are disapproving of you or distant from you?” I asked.
“I tell myself that I’m not okay,” she said.
“And how do you feel when you tell yourself that you are okay?” I asked.
“I feel happy,” she said.
“And what do you feel when you tell yourself that you are not okay?” I asked.
“I feel miserable,” she said.
“It sounds like you really believe that it is others’ approval that makes you happy or unhappy, rather than what you are telling yourself others’ approval means about you. Is it possible that telling yourself that you are okay is what makes you happy, rather than other’s attention and approval? And is it possible that telling yourself that you are not okay is what makes you feel miserable, rather than others’ disapproval?”
“I never thought of it like that,” she said. “I just know that I feel happy when I get the approval and attention and upset when I don’t.”
“Right, and you believe that your happiness is a result of others’ behavior rather than a result of what you are telling yourself about others’ behavior. And as a result of this belief, you are constantly pulling on others for their approval in many ways. You are constantly handing your inner child over to others and then blaming them when they don’t give you the attention you want. Is that right?”
“Yes, I’m often angry and irritated at others, especially my husband and my manager.”
“So,” I said, “you believe that if they would just do it right and give you what you want, then you would be happy – that it is their job to make sure you are happy?”
“Yes, I’ve always believed this. But I’m working with you because this is not working. I’m not happy so much of the time.”
“Right, because the truth is that whether or not you feel happy and okay comes from what you tell yourself about yourself. Instead of getting to know your soul, your intrinsic worth, you have learned to think you are your wounded self and that you are intrinsically not okay. You often judge yourself as not okay, especially when you are not getting the attention and approval you want – is that right?”
“Yes, I do that a lot,” she admitted. “And I always feel awful when I do that.”
“And you said that you feel good when you tell yourself that you are okay, right?”
“Right. But I only tell myself this when others like me.”
“Yes, and this is what is causing you to feel unhappy a lot. Until you decide to define your intrinsic worth through the eyes of your spiritual guidance rather than through the eyes of others, you will not feel that you are okay. You are rejecting your beautiful essence, your true self – the loving, creative, talented, funny, caring, intelligent and passionate part of yourself. You believe you are your wounded self – your programmed controlling self. How can you feel anything other than unhappy when you are rejecting who you really are with your self-judgments and instead handing your inner child to others to define as okay and worthy?”
“Okay, I think I see what you are saying. You know, I never saw this before.” Sara became reflective and the light bulb went on. “Wow! It’s really not others who are making me happy or unhappy! It’s what I’m telling myself! I just never saw this before!”
Sara started to practice taking her eyes off others and just noticing what she was telling herself and how she was treating herself. As a result of keeping her eyes on her own inner process, she stopped blaming others, which led to her relationships quickly improving. Suddenly she was getting the love, attention, and approval she had always wanted, except now it was the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself. The cake was having learned to love herself and define her own worth.
Often, when I ask my clients how they feel, they say “Nothing. I feel numb and empty,” and they have no idea how to fill this inner emptiness other than with addictions. They don’t know how to fill themselves with love.
My friend 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 numbness and sometimes 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, her soul. 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 will occur 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.
But 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 actions 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 you don’t take on the responsibility of your own well-being, you will automatically pull on others energetically to fill the hole within you. An empty place within is like a vacuum, sucking energy from others when you are not bringing love to yourself. Others may try to give to you, but it’s a bottomless pit when you are not filling yourself by taking loving care of your own feelings and needs. As much as others might love you, nothing external to you will fill your emptiness.
In addition, 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 emptiness 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.
In your mind, who is responsible for attending to your feelings – for making you feel complete, whole, safe, worthy, and lovable?
There is a very good reason that getting present in your body and attending to your feelings is Step One of Inner Bonding. When you pay careful attention to your emotions, you discover that it is often not another’s behavior or external events that create your misery or your inner peace or joy, but rather your own responses to these things. When you respond to another’s unloving behavior with anger, blame, resistance, withdrawal, or compliance, you will likely end up feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed.
On the deeper level of your core painful feelings, others’ unloving behavior causes loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, and helplessness concerning other. But while their choices are responsible for causing these feelings, you, as an adult, are responsible for compassionately managing them. As children we could not manage the deeper pain of life and we were victims of others’ choices, but as adults we all can learn to manage these painful feelings.
One of our greatest challenges is to understand what, as loving adults, personal responsibility means regarding our own feelings and behavior. This is especially difficult when someone is behaving in a way that feels unloving to us – attacking, blaming, lying, guilting, and so on. It is so easy to believe that your misery is coming from their behavior rather than from your own response to their behavior.
If you focus on Step One of Inner Bonding and pay careful attention to your feelings, you will discover that when you are willing to compassionately embrace your existential painful feelings of life without protecting against them with your own unloving behavior, you do not feel anxious, depressed, stressed, or miserable. When you fully embrace the sorrow, loneliness, grief, heartache, heartbreak, and helplessness concerning others, you move through these deeper painful feeling very quickly and into taking loving actions on your own behalf.
As an adult, if you are miserable in the face of a partner’s or a friend’s or a family member’s unloving behavior, it may be hard to see that it’s not their behavior that is creating your misery, but rather your own unloving response. Furthermore, if your response involves directing your own unloving behavior toward the other person, you will only feel more miserable.
For example, if you respond to another’s anger by getting angry back rather than by taking care of yourself through the intent to learn or lovingly disengaging, your inner child will not feel safe. You have not responded from your loving adult in a way that leads to being treated respectfully. Instead, you have responded from your wounded self, trying to have control over the other’s behavior. Since the other person is likely to respond with more anger or withdrawal, your inner child ends up caught in a cycle of painful feelings from the whole interaction.
We need love from the moment we are born. We might survive, but we do not thrive without abundant love. No wonder we work so hard to get it. No wonder we try to be perfect and do everything right, to have control over getting love. No wonder we get anxious, angry, or depressed when we do not get the love we need. No wonder we use numerous substance and process addictions to numb the pain when we feel alone and unloved.
Sharing love is totally different than giving to get love. Sharing love comes from a full place within, a place that does not need anything back from another person. When we practice Inner Bonding and learn to take loving actions on our own behalf, we get so filled with love that it just overflows. When this is the case, we receive great joy in sharing our love. We no longer try to be the source of love for others, nor do we make others our source of love.
Today, focus on opening to learning about what is in your highest good. Ask these questions throughout the day, “What is loving to me right now?” “What is in my highest good right now?” As answers pop into your mind, take the loving actions on your own behalf. Then notice how peaceful and fulfilled you feel, and how good it feels to share your love and joy with others.
I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”
And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:
- And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding
And we have so much to offer you at our website at https://www.innerbonding.com.
And, if you enjoyed this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you tell your friends about it, and if you give it a review wherever you heard it.
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.