THE BLOG
12/01/2012 12:39 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2013

Do You Feel Full Inside or Empty Inside?

In my work with clients, when I ask them how they are feeling, the answer is often, "I don't know." When I then ask, "Are you feeling empty or full inside?" the answer is frequently, "Empty."

The Cause of Inner Emptiness

Most people who feel empty have no idea what is supposed to be in that empty space. They try to fill it externally with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, approval, connection with others, computer games, spending, gambling, a new car, a new boat, a new computer or iPad or other toys. They feel a momentary feeling of fullness and then the emptiness returns. They might believe they are empty because they don't have a relationship, or their relationship isn't loving or connected, or they don't have enough sex or enough money or enough things. Perhaps they believe that having another child will do it for them, or getting a bigger house or having more friends or a new job. They often believe that if only someone really loved them, then they would feel full inside.

I've worked with people who have everything they believed would fill them up and they still feel empty. They seek my help because they are suffering and they don't know what to do about it.

Inner emptiness does not come from a lack of something external -- not even a lack of being loved by someone else. It comes from a lack of one thing only: a lack of awareness of the love that is the energy we live in. You can call this love God or spirit or light or whatever else you want. The fact is, we live in a universe of love, and unless you know how to open yourself to that love -- to feel it within your heart and soul -- you will feel empty inside. Once you know how to embrace the love within, then you not only feel full inside, but you know that you are not alone in the universe -- that love is always here for you. And once you experience yourself full to overflowing with love, you will have love to share with others. You no longer need to try so hard to get love from others. You are no longer empty and needy for something external to fill your emptiness and make you feel okay.

The Secret to Filling Yourself With Love

The love that fills us is always available to each of us -- if we know how to access it.

Love automatically flows through an open heart. The heart is like a doorway to the universe -- when it is open, love flows into and through us.

The secret to having an open heart and being filled up with love lies with your intent.

When your intent is to avoid your painful feelings with various addictions, and to protect against rejection or engulfment, and to have control over getting approval or sex or money or other things, your heart closes down. The intent to protect/avoid/control automatically closes the heart. Love cannot be felt with a closed heart.

When you choose the intent to learn about loving yourself, the heart automatically opens. When you want responsibility for defining your own worth, for creating your own sense of safety, and for taking loving action in your own behalf, the heart opens and the energy of love that is spirit flows freely, replacing the empty feeling with the fullness of love.

When you are willing to stop abandoning yourself with various addictions and instead open to learning about loving yourself, you will begin to feel the fullness of love within your heart and soul. This is when, instead of always trying to get love or turning to the love-substitutes of different addictions, you have love to share with others. The more you share love from the fullness of your heart, the fuller you feel. This is why we are often told to give to others as a way of feeling fulfilled. Giving to others is deeply fulfilling when we are loving ourselves and filling ourselves with love, and then sharing our love and fullness with others -- with no need to get anything back because we are already filled to the brim with love. Giving with an agenda of getting attention or approval does just the opposite, closing the heart and leading to feelings of emptiness.

You will continue to feel empty as long as you continue to abandon yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. When you decide it's time to take responsibility for yourself and learn to open your heart to love, you will no longer feel empty within.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free!

Connect with Margaret on Facebook: Inner Bonding, and Facebook: SelfQuest.

For more by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.

For more on love, click here.