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When Is Doing A Favor a Bad Idea?

The following is taken from MK’s New Book, “8 to Your IdealWeight.” Available on Amazon.com. 

“One of the most shocking findings of my research was that the most compassionate people I interviewed were also those with the clearest boundaries.”

Brene Brown

Part of our responsibility on the road to greater happiness and health is to stay in balance. I have seen so many women (and men) over-care for others, doing favor after favor at the expense of under-caring for themselves. So it would serve us to look at when doing favors is healthy, and when it is unhealthy.

A simple way to distinguish is to look at the difference between a Gift and a Favor.

I long ago realized that for me, F.A.V.O.R. = Feeling Acceptable and Valuable Only when Rescuing

The differences between a Gift and a Favor

A Gift:

  • It’s a want, not a should.
  • You won’t feel guilty if you don’t give it.
  • It’s coming from your surplus.

A Favor:

  • It’s a should, not a want.
  • They ask you (often silently) to “trust them” when they haven’t built up enough money in your relationship account. There is no emotional collateral, like an unsecured loan.
  • You feel guilty when you consider saying no because you do have the resources (some money/ a working car/ an extra bedroom, etc.)
  • You will pay a high price for extending it that will put you in the red as far as time, money or energy.   

Question: If you had a bankrupt friend who kept making terrible investments and  they  came to you month after month asking you to pay their rent, would it be healthy or loving to keep giving them the money?

Of course not. So why, when someone gets themselves into a crisis situation, such as a bad relationship, a bad car decision, etc. do we  feel  it is our responsibility to rescue  them just because we have something they don’t?

“In the Bible we read, ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren,’

but what if the least of my brethren is me?”

Carl Jung

When you see this imbalance happening in your life, instead of saying Yes to a “should” favor request, consider using a phrase like this one:

“No, I won’t be able to do that for too many reasons to explain, but thank you for asking.”

Over-giving and endless favors are part of an out-of-balance life that can send us into unhealthy behaviors like over-eating. Jill’s situation was one example…

“My new co-worker is sleeping in her car because she’s going through a divorce,” Jill shared with me during a coaching session. “She doesn’t get paid for another week and I have an extra bedroom, so I’m thinking of inviting her to stay with me. I want to know your thoughts.”

I shared that I was seeing a pattern in her life. “Jill, you remind me of the old me, the woman who was addicted to being ‘Nice.’ As your coach I am inviting you to abstain from doing  favors like this for one month. Let’s focus on getting your finances and your health back.”

“That  feels kind of selfish,” she replied honestly. “But I trust you, so I’ll give it a try.”

The following day when her new co-worker didn’t show up for work, someone thought to check the police report. She had been picked up on drug charges. Jill had averted a crisis. 

week-6-say-noSo the next time someone who you haven’t known that long, or who hasn’t demonstrated personal responsibility asks you for “One little favor,” remember to do yourself a favor and just say “No.”


Posted by MK Mueller in Uncategorized.