How To Overcome Overgiving and 3 Reasons You Do

By Laura K. Connell.

Overgiving is a common symptom of codependency. If you’ve been raised to believe your value lies in how much you do for others, you will feel worthless if you’re not serving.

Even if you’ve never received recognition for all you do, you work ever harder to try and receive that validation. Feeling unseen is a common symptom of codependency, too.

Someone raised in a healthy home will say: “I’m not feeling seen and recognized for all I do, let me set some boundaries so I’m not overgiving.”

Codependency says: “I’m not feeling seen and recognized for all I do. Let me do more.”

This leads to frustration and burnout when your efforts are unacknowledged or even downplayed. You can never do enough to win the love and respect of people who were never going to give it to you.

But the child in you has to believe that if you do enough you will finally be good enough. That was the child’s way of having power over its situation.

It was too scary to believe nothing you could do would ever win you the love and attention you craved. Telling yourself you just had to do more felt safer, even though it’s killing you now.

It’s not an exaggeration to say overgiving can take years off your life. The suppressed resentment that comes from codependency can lead to chronic pain and autoimmune disease.

So, you could say overcoming overgiving is a life and death situation. First, you must understand why you overgive and here are three reasons.

3 reasons for overgiving

  1. You want to influence what people think of you.

When you give too much it’s often because you want other people to have a positive opinion about you. There’s nothing wrong with that desire, but instead of trusting they’ll like you for who you are, you believe you have to buy their love with service.

  1. You’re afraid things will fall apart if you don’t overgive.

You fear that if you drop any of the balls you’re juggling, something terrible will happen and someone might even die.

You keep the plates spinning on your own because you don’t know how to ask for help. You never learned to expect support from others and therefore prefer to take care of things on your own. When other people get involved, they only mess things up anyway.

  1. You think you’re the only one strong enough to do it.

Even if it’s subconscious, you believe you can handle more than most people. That may be true, but it comes from a childhood in which you were forced to carry more than was appropriate for your age.

When you’re raised without the comfort, care, and attention every child needs, you get used to discomfort. So, even though it feels bad, overgiving feels like home.

Neglecting your own needs in favor of others and denying yourself care while you care for others is all you’ve known. This self-denial becomes second nature and self-fulfillment feels foreign and out of reach.

You equate strength with carrying an unfair load but that type of strength is not a virtue. That’s why the first step to overcoming overgiving is to stop being so strong.

Allow yourself comfort and rest and ask for help when you need it.

Laura K. Connell is a trauma-informed author & coach who helps her clients recover from the devastating impact of dysfunctional family trauma. Take the Dysfunctional Family Roles quiz here.

1 Response

  1. Lise says:

    As a life long co dependent, this was spot on. The points you made absolutely coincide with the details of my life experience.

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