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S2 EP99 – Do You Approach Your Relationships Empty or Full Inside?

Episode Summary:

Discover what creates those awful feelings of inner emptiness and aloneness, and how inner emptiness affects relationships. In this podcast, learn what you can do to feel the fullness of love within, so that you can share love with your loved ones.

Episode Transcript:

Hi everyone! This is Dr. Margaret Paul with the Inner Bonding podcast, and today, I want to talk about whether you approach your relationships empty or full inside.

Inner emptiness is the awful, hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, and

it’s a common experience for many people. It is a feeling that is so distressful that it often leads to numerous addictions in an attempt to fill the empty, alone place within. Food, alcohol, drugs, TV, shopping, sex, busyness, gambling, and fantasy are some of the common addictions used to momentarily fill the emptiness. They become addictions because they work for the moment, but because the fullness is short-lived, you have to keep doing them – more food, more sex, more shopping, and so on. They never fill you up permanently.

Dr. Erika Chopich, the co-creator of Inner Bonding, and I were having a conversation about people being empty inside, which means a lack of love inside, and that many people approach their relationship from emptiness – wanting the other person to fill them up with their love or attention or approval or sex.

She talked about her take on it, and she said, “I think coming to a relationship empty is an act of desperation. They didn’t get filled up as children and they weren’t taught how to get filled up, so they go to this relationship empty and desperate, essentially saying to their partner, ‘You have to fill me, you have to help me see who I am, you’ve got to make me feel worthwhile and lovable or I could die.’ The caretaking person at the other end of this nonverbal energetic communication is sensitive to it, they sense the neediness and emptiness, and they’ll try their best to fill the other person up, but it’s doomed to failure because there’s no partnership. Everything is skewed. The needy empty person has control over their relationship. Women are often trained to be a caretaker and try to fill up the man and make him feel happy and secure, and then wonder why she ends up feeling so drained, or even sick. And it’s not always the men coming empty and needy. Some men are also trained to be caretakers by their narcissistic mother, to be responsible for the woman’s feelings, and it’s the woman who comes to him empty and needy. He tries his best to fill her but eventually feels resentful and even bored with her.  Men often get very bored with that because they feel so pulled on, and they might just kind of go away and fade out. Coming to a partner needy and empty is very sad, it’s very pathetic. Not only were their needs not met, but they also didn’t get accurate mirroring. They may have in some ways been an outcast within the family system. They don’t know how to fill themselves because nobody role modeled that. Their parents were also empty, like there was a picture frame wandering around in search of a picture. They’re hoping somebody will love them enough to fill them and then they can be OK again. What we’re talking about is that they are empty because they never learned to have a God connection. Even if they had religion, they likely didn’t get a spiritual connection. How many people do you know who go to church every Sunday but have had no God connection whatsoever? It isn’t that they weren’t taught to pray,” Erika went on to say, “but they weren’t taught to connect to God, so they make their partner their higher power. Even if they were taught to pray or said their prayers, it wasn’t from a connected place.”

“Right,” I said, “because if they were taught to pray from a connected place, they wouldn’t feel empty. They would feel the love that is God.”

“Right,” she said, “you can recite prayers all day and still never feel God. It’s about how the parents defined God to the child, and whether the child experienced their parents’ God connection.”

We talked about whether everyone is capable of connecting with their higher guidance, and we think that everyone is because it’s wired into the DNA of our higher right brain, but that you need to know how. Most people are not encouraged to trust their inner and higher knowing, so they don’t develop this capacity in their upper right brain. And without this connection, they will likely feel empty and tend to make their partner their higher power.  

Erika said that many people believe they can’t open to God until somebody else does it for them – until someone else loves them enough so that they feel they are lovable enough for God to love them. But, since no one can ever fill a bucket with a hole in it, they never get filled. Another’s love is like a good meal – it last for a while but then they are hungry again for their partner’s love and it becomes an addiction. The emptiness and neediness can’t heal with just another’s love. Another can support you in learning to love yourself, but to heal, the love needs to come into you directly from your higher source. That’s what lets you know you are lovable – learning to see yourself through the loving eyes of your higher guidance and learning to take loving actions for your beautiful inner child.

Then another’s love feels wonderful, and you can fully take it in. But you don’t need the other’s love to feel full inside because you have your own higher power.

But in a codependent relationship with a taker and a caretaker, both people are needy of the other’s love to feel lovable. The taker is saying, “You have to save me, you have to fill me,” and the caretaker is saying, “I can and will save you and fill you, and then you will give me the love I’m not giving to myself.”

But there is a difference between the taker and the caretaker. While both are needy of the others love because they are abandoning themselves, the caretaker is often connected with their source of love and bringing it into their heart. The problem is that they send it right out to others without first nurturing their inner child. They abandon themselves to caretake the other, believing that taking loving care of themselves is selfish. They believe that because they do feel love in their heart, they owe it to others to give it to them. But because they are not taking loving care of their own feelings, they expect their partner to give them what they are not giving to themselves. Eventually they get depleted and maybe even sick.

In my work with clients, I find that caretakers, because often they are spiritually connected, have a much easier time learning to love themselves, once they understand that they have the right to do this and that it’s the opposite of selfish – it’s self-responsible. It’s the takers who seem to have a very hard time letting go of control and developing their right-brain access to their higher guidance. And often they are not motivated to practice Inner Bonding and develop their loving adult because they are convinced that their happiness is only is getting love, not in being loving to themselves and to others.

Erika said, “The caretaker often isn’t aware of what’s going on in the system. They don’t understand what’s happening because they have been programmed to take responsibility for others’ feelings. They may start off well intentioned, with the taker’s energy saying, ‘If only you could love me enough, I’ll be whole’ and the caretaker is saying, ‘I have enough love to do that. I can love you to wholeness.’ But they can’t and then they’re soon exhausted. We constantly see examples of this. The taker is saying, ‘Until you heal me, I can’t love right, so you have to love me in the perfect way that I need that my parents didn’t. Telling me that God is love doesn’t mean anything to me, because I can’t access that love until you love me enough. I didn’t get love from the beginning, so it’s your job to love me in the way that I didn’t get loved and then I can be loving, but I can’t be loving until your loving me first, and you have to keep it up endlessly, and you have to self-sacrifice, and even though I have a hole in my bucket and all the love you give me just goes out and doesn’t ever fill me up, you have to keep doing it to prove you love me. And I don’t believe that opening to God’s love, whatever that is, that nebulous thing, is going to do it like somebody else’s love. Not only do I not believe that, I won’t even try it.’”

What I often run into with clients who are on the taker end of the codependent system is they refuse to practice Inner Bonding because they are deeply addicted to getting love and believing that’s what will make them happy and whole. They focus on how their partner is treating them, rather than on how they are treating themselves and their partner.

Many of my clients are convinced that learning to love themselves and share their love just isn’t going to feel as good as someone else’s love, so they become very resistant to even practicing Inner Bonding. This reminds me of a Dr. Suess book that I used to read to my kids and that they loved – Green Eggs and Ham. In this book, the main character is trying to get Sam to try green eggs and ham, and Sam refuses to even try them. When he finally does try them at the end of the book, he loves them. This is often what happens with people who finally learn to love themselves – they discover the deep happiness and joy of learning how to fill themselves with love and share it with their loved ones.

Erika said, “I think as children, they’re scrambling to get love, just scrambling to get love and get approval, and get seen. And then the other side of the coin is these helicopter parents, which teaches children that only other people can do it for you, you can’t do it for yourself, and they go about the rest of their lives trying to find others to do it for them.”

“Right,” I said, “I often have male clients whose mother focused everything on them – how wonderful they were, how perfect they were, and now they feel entitled to be the center of their wife’s attention. Even if they have a wife who loves them, she never loves them good enough or right enough and they always have their eyes on her, and they tell me, ‘I don’t think she loves me,’ and he never even thinks about whether he loves her, and he can’t even feel any love for her. Their entire motivation, their whole focus of attention is either on getting the love they missed out on as children or getting the kind of attention their mother gave them.”

Of course, we also bring our issues into our parenting. Many people think they know how to parent because they say, “I’m just going to do the opposite of my parents did and it’ll come out right.” They are not open to learning about what loving parenting is because they are not open to learning about loving themselves. So they often hand down to their children the same neediness and emptiness that they struggle with, because that’s what they are role modeling for their children.  

Empty and needy people, both men and women, often cheat on their partner because they think that somebody else it would be better, someone else will fill them little more. And it might seem like it works for a while because of course it’s easier in an affair. You’re like on vacation with no responsibilities, no kids, no chores, no bills to pay. So they think that because it feels so good that their husband or wife is the wrong partner for them. They might leave their marriage and marry the person they think they are I love with, and then the same thing happens. Second and third marriage have a much higher divorce rate than first marriages because they take their neediness and emptiness with them.

Then there are people who are sexually addicted and believed that having sex with as many people as they can is the only way to get filled – that it’s only sex that would fill them.

Many couples stay together only out of fear of being alone. They are like roommates with no connection, or there is physical or emotional abuse, but they tell themselves that “I’ll never find anybody to love me. I’ll end up all alone, so I have to stay.” When people are terrified of being alone because of being left alone a lot at a very young age, they might be so scared of being alone that they will completely give themselves up to protect against being alone. And they are terrified of being alone because they are empty inside with no spiritual connection. The challenge with my clients is to inspire someone who is totally in their wounded self to even try to practice Inner Bonding and develop a spiritually connected loving adult so that they are no longer fearful of being alone.

Even people who have a harder time connecting with their higher guidance because the tend to be very left brain and have suppressed their right brain – the part of our brain that can naturally connect with spirit, can develop the neural pathways for this connection because our brain has neuroplasticity, which means that our brains can always learn. Most, if not all, people can learn to connect with their higher source of love and wisdom if they are devoted to developing this connection.

It’s our experience that people who are very controlling, who are very judgmental, are coming from a deep fear stemming from the self-abandonment that creates inner emptiness and neediness. Full, spiritually connected people don’t have a need to try to control getting love, admiration, validation, attention, and approval. These people are not capable of distinguishing the difference between love and power over others. They believe that if they can attain enough power over their partner or others, then they can control getting their partner to fill them with their love and heal them. People like Putin, who likely believes that conquering the Ukraine will fill him up, and other dictators, are likely very empty men with no sense of their true self, and they try to get filled through power over others. They’ll manipulate and hurt people and they think that’s going to make them feel OK. It’s the same with domestic violence. And the caretaker who is terrified of being alone tries to become the savior who will save them with love, which of course never works. Putin likely thinks that if he restores the original USSR and becomes czar, that that’ll define him and then he’ll feel like he’s okay. He’s driven from his inner emptiness, and he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. He probably believes this will bring him wholeness. It’s likely that all these tyrannical, dictatorial, patriarchal men are empty and trying to fill their emptiness with their power over others.

I hope you can see that self-abandonment creates an inner emptiness and a fear of being alone, that then leads to both overtly controlling behavior, such as anger, blame or violence, and covertly controlling behavior such as caretaking, to try to fill up externally rather than from the spiritual source of love that is the only thing that actually fills us.

My client, Rachel, consulted with me because her marriage was falling apart. She had discovered that her husband was having yet another affair, and when he was with her, he was either angry or withdrawn. She had requested numerous times that he join her in couples therapy, but he had no interest in healing their relationship.

Rachel was financially independent and could easily leave. Their children were all adults. There was nothing to keep her in this marriage. Yet she was still there.

“Rachel, why are you staying in this marriage?”

“Because I’m afraid to be alone.”

Rachel, like her husband who was trying to get filled through affairs, was abandoning herself and had made her husband responsible for filling her emptiness. She had handed over to her husband the job of her emotional wellbeing, which made her inner child feel empty and alone inside. Having abandoned herself by handing her inner child to her husband, she was terrified of being alone. Her self-abandonment caused her fear of being alone.

If she were practicing Inner Bonding and learning to take full responsibility for herself – for valuing herself, listening to herself, taking loving care of herself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, she would not fear being alone.

Due to her self-abandonment and her resulting emptiness and fear of being alone, she tried to control her husband with anger, blame, tears, and compliance. She put up with his affairs, and rationalized that, no matter how bad it was, it was better than being alone. She felt as if she would die if she ended up alone.

Even though Rachel was extremely lonely in her relationship, perhaps even more lonely that she would have been had she been alone, she was willing to tolerate the deep loneliness and heartbreak to avoid being alone.

I worked with Rachel on learning how take responsibility for her own feelings, how to manage her loneliness, and how to connect with the love, wisdom, and comfort of her spiritual source of guidance.

She discovered that she is never alone, that her guidance is always here for her, and this deep inner connection took away her fear of being alone. After practicing Inner Bonding for a year, Rachel was ready to leave her marriage.

She told her husband she was going to seek a divorce, and to her surprise, her husband agreed to do couples counseling with her.

She still decided to separate from him, but they started to work together to heal their relationship. Today, while not all the problems are healed, they are on their way to creating a solid caring relationship. Because Rachel was willing to learn to love herself and fill herself up with love, which healed her emptiness and fear of being alone, her behavior changed so much in her marriage that her husband was willing to open and learn to love himself and heal his sexual addiction. But even if he hadn’t been willing to do his inner work, she would have been fine since she was no longer abandoning herself.

The simple explanation for inner emptiness is a lack of love – not a lack of food, sex, money, nor a lack of love from another. Others’ love feels great for the moment, but what about the next moment when the person is not there, or gets angry, or withdraws his or her love? Back to the emptiness and other addictions as you frantically try to avoid feeling so alone and empty.

As long as you believe that something outside of yourself can fill you – a substance, a process, or a person – you will be seeking the love you need in all the wrong places. You will continue to come to your partner empty and continue to have problems in your relationships.

We all need love – the love that comes through you from your higher self – to feel full inside. Loving yourself and sharing your love with others fills the inner emptiness. It is the only thing that does.

You can learn how to heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

And you can learn to connect with your spiritual Guidance with my 30-Day home-study experience, Unlocking Your Inner Wisdom.

And I hope you join me for my 30-Day online Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

My recent books will also be a big help to you: The Inner Bonding Workbook: Six Steps to Healing Yourself and Connecting With Your Divine Guidance,  Diet for Divine Connection: Beyond Junk Foods and Junk Thoughts to At-Will Spiritual Connection, and 6 Steps to Total Self-Healing: The Inner Bonding Process.

And, of course, we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.




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