Psychology today defines an over-giver as a person who

  • gives till it hurts and often ends up hurt in the process.
  • gives and gives and gives and gets very little in return.
  • gives for the wrong reasons.

What is the difference between over-giving and being generous?

Generous giving implies that you’ve taken care of your own needs first and from that place have the energy to give to others. You may have heard of giving from the overflow, this is the basis of being generous.

Over-giving, on the other hand, is not being selfless. Instead, it is essentially an inability to receive.

That means you give, give, give because you think (or hope) it will be appreciated, or because it makes you feel good about yourself, or because you feel a sense of obligation.

If the following statements resonate you may be an over-giver:

  1. You feel guilty when someone gives something to you.
  2. You put the needs of others ahead of your own.
  3. You apologise excessively, especially in times where you are unable to give as you normally would.
  4. You avoid, or are uncomfortable at the thought, of asking for things.
  5. You are aware that your giving could be the result of insecurity.
  6. You find that you give because you want to feel liked or admired.

If you have identified yourself as an over-giver, or can relate to any of these examples of over-giving, you are probably feeling exhausted. Sacrificing your needs on behalf of others is an unsustainable state.

When you’re exhausted, what tends to happen for many of us? We overeat.

Why is that?
Because eating is a form of receiving.

Let that sink in…………….
Eating is a form of receiving.

Eating is also essential for life. But when we eat for reasons beyond hunger, those of us who turn to food often do so because we are unable to receive in other ways.

This might be hard to hear.
But if this has sparked something up in you, if this is resonating. then this is the first step to change.

We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.


The overgiving cycle goes like this….

  1. Make plans –  For example creating a meal plan, shopping for ingredients, joining a gym, and scheduling workouts. The plan is rock solid.
  2. Overgive – Someone needs help so you ditch your plans to take care of others.
  3. Burnout -You overgive/people-please/martyr yourself until you burn out, which leads to…
  4. Over-consume – Whether it be over-eat, over-scroll, over-shop etc and then you…
  5. Feel guilty for over consuming and so you make plans and the whole cycle starts over again!

Some examples:
Join gym
Join exercise program / bootcamp
Meal plan
Go to bed early

     2.OVERGIVE….ditch plans to take care of others
A task pops up that needs your urgent attention
You’re forever playing Mum’s taxi and running around after your kids
School asks you to sell chocolates as a fundraiser
A family member needs you to pick up groceries / scripts
A friend needs to vent, you’re their shoulder to cry on

     3.BURNOUT….stress & resentment
At the end of the day after all this helping there is no time left for you.
And so, your gym membership goes unused. Your apps are never opened. Your hand weights become door stops. You beat yourself up for spending money on something you’re not using, but it never stops.

Your vegetables wilt in the fridge as you buy takeout because it’s cheap and cheerful and saves time and arguments with your kids.

Your home is still cluttered because you ran out of steam half way.

Plus after a full-on day you literally have no reserves left to care for yourself, so you grab the convenience food, stay up late to catch up on alone time, watch Netflix, snack mindlessly, and promise yourself that this is the last time and that tomorrow will be different.

You’re so tired of starting and stopping and then starting over every Monday and telling yourself, “this is going to be it, this is going to be ‘the thing’”. You’re so tired of not sticking to anything. That feeling of failure weighs even more than you do.

This all weighs heavily on your mind AND SO YOU


You tell yourself you’ll start again tomorrow. You’ll go to the gym. You’ll cook something nourishing.

But… that tomorrow never, ever comes.

You overeat because you overgive.

And then you

Guilt and Shame are self directed emotions. Although they are uncomfortable we are better able to handle those feelings then say the feeling of anger or resentment.

Anger and Resentment are outwardly directed emotions. We don’t want to feel mad at our kids, it’s not their fault. We don’t want to resent our friends or family members for going after what we want and don’t let ourselves have.

We can’t process this anger and resentment because we haven’t been taught too.

So we unconsciously eat to make ourselves feel guilty because guilt is self-directed and that we can handle.

When we feel guilty enough we go back to

     1.MAKE PLANS –
and the whole cycle starts over again

Next article – The Long Game


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