I know for sure (cuz you told me) that many of you struggle with over-giving in your life and times like the holidays can exacerbate that tendency. Would you love some tips, tools, and strategies to give in a more balanced and mindful way?

Then you’re in luck because that’s exactly what I’m giving you in today’s vlog!

As a recovering overfunctioner and over-giver, I so get it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing over-giving as part of being a nice person (and maybe a little desire to be super-woman thrown in there) We like to think of ourselves as doing it because we’re generous, kind, and it’s the right, unselfish thing to do. Putting others needs above our own is what makes us a good person, right?

The truth? When you really look at it from that point of view, you’re potentially over-giving not from a place of niceness, but from a place of need. What ends up happening in that dynamic is if you do it for long enough, you end up feeling resentful and put upon (not to mention exhausted).

If you’re ready to STOP over-giving, I invite you to watch my video on this. In it, I give you real strategies you can use to reveal the root of your over-giving pattern, so that you can learn how to give appropriately and most importantly, authentically.

The Codependency Connection

There’s almost always a connection to codependent behavior when it comes to over-giving. As women, we are basically raised and instructed to be codependent! In most cultures, women are socialized to be the caregivers and the nurturers. So for women especially, codependent behavior can feel like our natural role.

Giving is loving, over-giving is dysfunctional. @terri_cole (Click to Tweet!)

Here’s when to take a closer look: if you’re acting and giving at your own expense, it could be an indication of codependent behavior. Over-giving and codependent behavior eventually leads to feeling empty and bitter because at the end of the day there’s nothing left for you.

I’ve created a downloadable cheat sheet for you to help gain clarity around why you might be over-giving, how codependence ties in, and how things you’ve experienced in the past could be affecting your behavioral pattern in the present. I invite you to download it now and take some time and space to sit with the questions because, as I always say, you have to reveal it to heal it, and I know this guide will help you uncover some answers.

The Truth About Over-giving

In my over 20 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve encountered so many successful, high-functioning women suffering from the over-giving syndrome, and it comes down to one of two things or a combination of both:

  1. Either it’s a learned behavior that you saw growing up, for example, maybe one of your parents was an extreme over-giver for the same dysfunctional reasons, and so we continue to emulate that behavior into our adulthood and often, model it for our own children.
  2. And/Or, you grew up in a family system that was dysfunctional and there was an element of utilitarianism, as in, you, as a child, had to provide VALUE by doing something in order to be recognized or even loved. This could look like parents or caregivers with addiction issues, abuse, neglect, or just a chaotic system where in order to feel or stay safe, you had to meet the needs of other people in that system instead of the correct dynamic, which would be the adults meeting the child’s needs.

Whatever the reason, when we take on these kinds of roles when we’re young, it can create a real sense of need and a drive to over-give that stays with us for a lifetime. What can happen down the line is that you’re potentially over-giving from that place of need for recognition and acknowledgment, ultimately, to receive love.

If you’re giving from a dysfunctional place, even when someone is grateful, they can never be grateful enough, right? That’s because the person you’re giving to can never be the one who can fill that hole that you’re trying to fill. That can only come from YOU. And that’s where self-love comes in.

If this is hitting home with you, don’t worry, I’ve got you. As I said, I am a recovering over-giver and I SO get it. I share more of my personal story in this episode, so if you haven’t watched it yet, watch it now.

Now let’s talk about some strategies you can use to stop over-giving:

  1. Take Inventory. I’m going to challenge you to really take an inventory of all of your commitments and the things that you do for others. Think about the last holiday season, start with what’s happened holiday-wise for you last year. What do you normally do? How much, where and with whom do you over-give or over-commit? Make a little list of it all and then take note of where you feel like you can give yourself permission to do less.
  2. Create Balance and Awareness. Download the cheat sheet and answer the questions thoughtfully to get more clarity. In order to bring some balance to your life, you’re going to need to step up your mindfulness and do something different. If someone asks you to do one thing, say, bring a dessert to their party, I want you to do that ONE thing. If that one thing is too much, I want you to say NO. Only you know what you’re doing in your life and where you can trim the over-giving fat, so get creative, remind yourself that you are already enough, and craft some gorgeous boundaries this season.
  3. Self-Care. Starting right now, I want you to commit to doing something every single day through the next two weeks that is specifically only about your self-care. Make a list of things that genuinely make you feel good. It could be getting a manicure. It could be giving yourself 30 minutes to read a magazine or taking a power nap or getting in the tub for a soak. It could be saying no to a bunch of obligatory crap that you really don’t want to do. Open up your calendar and put yourself on your agenda for now.

To change what happens, you need to change your mind.

As always, I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment, and if this could add value to someone else’s life, please share it on your social media platforms.

Thank you so much for watching, sharing and listening, and as always take care of you.



Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.