I know for sure (cuz you told me) that many of you struggle with over-giving in your life and this time of year 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 overgiving 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 this week’s episode. 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. 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. Overgiving 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 Overgiving

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 overgiving 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 overgiving:

  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. Since it’s the holiday season, start with what’s happening holiday-wise for you this 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 overgiving 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 New Year 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 this holiday.

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

Terri Cole

You need to give yourself permission to pivot and if you’re reading this and feel like you need some extra support, I have a new beautiful mini-course, The Healthy Holiday Thrive Guide: Boundary Strategies to Get the Happy Back. It has everything you need to flip the script on the holiday season for you, so if traditionally this is a very stressful time, I want to invite you to check it out. You can read all about it right here.

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.

Real Love Revolution season is in full swing, so please join me in our fabulous (free!) Facebook Group for live Wednesday Wisdom Sessions @ 3PM EST where we’re talking real love, sex, relationships and passion every week.

We’re doing an absolutely gorgeous meditation challenge this year (back by popular demand) and I just can’t wait to get started with you in January for that, so be sure to get in the group and watch your inbox for love notes from me because I’ve got all that and more coming your way!

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



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  1. Just realizing my overgiving/codependance. Now take someone with Narsasistic traits and throw them into a 32 year battle to get love from eachother. Talk about a recipe for intence emotional disaster. Knowledge is power but only if that new wisdom is put into action. Second day of waking up to the mantra of "what nice thing am I going to do for myself today" is very dificult, I thought it would be easy, Will there ever be a balance that I no longer have to try so hard to create and will feel more natural?

    1. I am witnessing you with so much compassion, Rich. ❤️ It is really difficult when you are with someone who constantly gives you new cuts before the old ones can heal over.

      This is a dynamic I’ve talked about before. Here are a few blogs you can check out:

      And I recommend listening to this interview I just did with Ross Rosenberg, as he is an expert in this area:

  2. So timely! I just received a pkg from my 'over-giving' sister. I've asked her year after year for 'no gifts'. But year after year she sends gifts. I live in a cozy little apartment. I have everything I need. I'm almost minimalist-like. I live VERY simply. In the card she writes, "You deserve some Christmas gifts and I love to give and share, so please enjoy!" Argh!!! No!!! No, I don't have to enjoy stuff I don't want just because you love to give and share! Give elsewhere! I know she means well, but she just doesn't get it. I would feel loved if she listened, really listened, and honored my request.

  3. I grew up with a mom who waa a perfectionist, but ALSO, I suspect, with OCD. I grew up ANTICIPATING her every need. One of my first jobs as a teen, waitressing, was hugely fulfilling and successful, due to anticipating the customer's needs. This anticipation trait, however, morphed into a monster in my relationships as an adult, and my careers: social worker and high school teacher in a high needs community. Now retired, I realized 99% of my job and relationship burnout was due to overgiving. It's easier to say "no" now, but the people in my life, some of whom I groomed to be takers, and some who already were takers, are perplexed. We definitely teach people how to treat us, but much of our actions are unconscious/subconcious responses to childhood imprinting, so we need to te-teach ourselves bealthy behavior.

  4. Wow! You nailed it! I never thought it possible to describe this, so I refrained from seeking help. Every single statement was like you were speaking for me. When you addressed codependency, it’s like a bell was sounded in my head. I jumped from my laptop and went to the old bookcase where my parent’s books are stored and wham there it was, a book of my mother’s titled “Codependency No More”. I’m sure you can add up the rest! Thank you so very much you wonderful lady! I’m off to get some help.

    God Bless You Terri!

  5. I’ve been on the recieving end of this and it’s so awkward. If someone gives me four gifts when one (or none) would do I feel embarrassed. I feel bad if someone does things for me that are my responsibility. It’s a little insulting, I didn’t ask them to do it and I’m capable of doing it myself. How can those of us on the recieving end help over givers understand that they don’t have to do it all?

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom! Your videos are fabulous!

    1. Hi Jessica! Thank YOU for being here! And this is a great question. I would encourage you to share your experience with the over-giver. Tell them how you feel when they are doing things for you that you would prefer to do for yourself. You can even say it would help you MORE if they would let you do things for yourself. Be open to a dialogue, perhaps they will share with you their motivation and you can work together so you can both find what will make you happy in this situation.

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