Don't Do This to Yourself!
Are you standing on your feet or others?
An old woman is crossing the street. She's very old, bent over, has a cane, and she slips and falls.
I think I can safely say that we would all rush in to help her. (At least I hope so.) She's gone through a lot, maybe she's lost a son or husband to war, raised some fine kids despite tough circumstances, donated to charities, provided comfort as a grandmother, etc. We should of course give her the benefit of any doubt. The scenario would go like this: A good samaritan or several, would go to her aid, help her up and out of harm's way. If unhurt, she'd probably say, "It's ok, it's ok, I can walk now. Thank you for helping me", and she'd be on her way. She might even be embarrassed to have found herself in a situation where she needed help, though she needn't be.
Unfortunately, I've known too many people who are unlike this woman, in that they put themselves in situations that thwart their self sufficiency, and are constantly asking, (or sometimes demanding) help from those of us who try to stand on our own two feet. Unlike the woman above, many won't try to escape their situation, which they can, and see anyone who helps them as a permanent solution.
First, let me make one thing absolutely clear. The people I'm talking about are not people who are actually disabled nor are they people who've done so much for their helpers that they are actually owed the help. I'm talking about able bodied people who use friendship or family ties or workplace familiarity to justify their actions.
Also, this is not to imply that these people all are villains, indeed, most are also victims of themselves, as they destroy their own self esteem and self confidence. Let's see some examples below:
Non Drivers: The most common example I see of people doing this is where driving is concerned. Many of these people do not drive. They've either not learned to drive a car, or, if they have, they've allowed themselves to become afraid to drive. Now, if they cannot afford a car, this is fine and understandable. I'm talking about learning how to drive . If nothing else, one who knows how to drive but doesn't have a car can better understand what the person driving him places must deal with. I find most non drivers I've known do not have a full understanding of gas prices, insurance, liability, car upkeep, and the fact that a taxi with door to door service would cost far more that the free rides they've gotten from me. In addition, some even have had the gall to keep me waiting when I've gone to pick them up! One person who I'm no longer friends with, used to make it sound like an ultimatum: "If I can't get a ride then I won't be there". Well, needless to say, he'll never be there unless he's found a new stooge to give him free rides.
But, enough about the non-driver's victims. They also victimize themselves. Even if they live in the heart of a city with excellent public transit, there's no freedom like being able to drive your car, or a rented one for the day, and going wherever and whenever you choose. There's nothing like being able to get that job where no buslines or train lines are, like going to that next town for that concert or play, like taking that road trip to a national park, or not having to leave the party before the last bus runs.
I've noticed that more women seem to be non-drivers, but I've known guys, also, who are non-drivers and I don't know if more women than men overall are non-drivers.
My advice to them is, :Learn how to drive, and, if possible, get yourself a car! The car doesn't have to be new. Some used cars on sites like craigslist.org can sell for as little as $1,500 and, if you have good ability to restore and return a car to running condition, you can find cars for even less! It will give you a freedom that you don't have now, and those people who think that your call is an automatic request for free taxi service will be greatly and pleasantly surprised to hear you say, "Let's go to the coast today! I'll drive!"
Favor Mongers: Ever know someone who, whenever they call or knock on your door, you know you're going to be put on the spot to do something for them? I've known this type, too. The favor monger. After a while, maybe a very short while, your first reaction to their calling you is, "What does so and so want now?" They range from the tolerable to the intolerable. The tolerable favor monger asks and never demands, never gets mad if you say no, doesn't demand reasons for refusal, and, when you do them a favor, often tries to repay in some way, like giving you gas money or buying you lunch or dinner, and also calls you for fun things, like just getting together and going someplace. The intolerable arrogantly calls you and demands that you do them a favor, gets mad if you refuse, demands reasons for the refusal, which they will claim are false or unimportant, and will never even offer so much as a thank you if you do grant the favor.
To favor mongers, I give this advice: Try not to ask for favors all the time! I'm not saying never, just not so often. Instead, try to learn how to set up the new computer, change that lightbulb, make the phone call, take the bus to the grocery store or other places you need to get to, etc. Because I've got news for you: Even if you are the 'tolerable' type of favor monger, people will be thinking "What does he or she want now?" when you call. And, learning to do at least some of the things you ask others to do will give you more self confidence, self esteem, and you can also do these things your way. And it beats having to wait for someone else to do it.
Also, to everyone, check yourself to see if you are a favor monger. I know, many of you may be afraid to know, but if you have people avoiding you, this may be why. If you call people and the first words out of your mouth is, "Can you do me a favor?" , you're probably a favor monger. It's a good idea to call people you like or love just to chat and see how they're doing once in a while WITHOUT ASKING FOR A FAVOR. And, if you are going to ask for a favor, ask first how they are. Otherwise, it's only natural that they will think that you see them as a 'favor vessel' to be tossed the day they no longer do favors for you.
And I know your parents taught you, but do remember to say 'please', and 'thank you'. It's really that important and costs you nothing!
The Borrower: This person is similar to the favor monger and, especially where money is concerned, these people can be the most damaging to friendships and family ties. Again, they range from the tolerable to the intolerable, for many of the same reasons as the favor monger. But, where money is concerned, there are additional problems. Many borrowers simply refuse to pay the money back, figuring that the friendship or family tie says they don't have to. Often these types would hound you immediately if the roles were reversed. And, if they're the intolerable type, they will not sign a formal loan agreement with you, arrogantly viewing it as an insult to them!
I have this advice for them: Try never to hit up or borrow money from friends and family! This creates a hidden tension, which will be there, no matter how good the relationship! Now, if you must borrow money from friends and family, PAY IT BACK ASAP!!. And be sure to thank them!
As for other items, Try not to borrow but get your own if possible. If you do borrow an item, do as my mom taught me: Treat it better than you would if it were yours!
How do we who stand on our own two feet deal with them?:
First, we need to recognize them. The friend who asked you to help him with building his deck last summer, joined you for several occasions, rode with you as a passenger to one of them and contributed or offered gas money, and maybe borrowed a few dollars once and quickly repaid it, is not a favor monger or borrower and, if he is a non-driver, is not one who constantly asks you for rides.
If the person nearly always needs a ride from you, asks for a favor or to borrow something from you whenever they contact you, and it's for things that they can really do for themselves, then they most likely fit into the categories above.
How to deal with them should really vary by how they treat you. But one thing is certain: Never be afraid to tell them 'NO' , especially if you really cannot do the favor or spare the money!
If this destroys the friendship, then the friendship was never very strong anyway. If a family member, then stand your ground in a calm, polite, but firm manner if the other person makes a stink of it.
Remember, you're not here to be anyone's servant, just as the formative people in your life, most likely your parents, told you that other people aren't here to be yours.
What if the favor monger, borrower, non-driver, is a 'special' person, like a parent or grandparent?"
It depends on your relationship with them. If they are truly all around monsters, then you should tell them 'no'. But, assuming they're not, but do fit into the categories above, then it depends on what they're asking.
If your father asks you to take money out of your child's college fund and give it to him so he can buy himself a boat, then you should say 'no'. If he simply asks you for a glass of water then go get it for him. If he asks you to help him clean out the shed this Saturday, and you have other plans (Assuming you're an adult), then it's ok to say no, but do offer to negotiate an arrangement, such as helping him the following weekend.
In these situations, you have to use your own judgement. And remember, when you do say yes, you are enabling them to continue their behavior! It doesn't mean you stop completely, unless they're the intolerable type, just that you stop catering to every whim, letting them know in a subtle way that you're not their 'on-call servant'. And of course, if the person is someone like your mother or grandfather, you do have to 'walk a tightrope', but you can still stand your ground and not give in to every request.
You can also help them to become more self sufficient, depending on the situation. If your mother has lost confidence in her driving abilities, and she owns her own car, you can help her by going with her in her car and having her drive to places under your supervision, instead of simply driving her when she asks. Eventually, she may become confident enough to drive herself places instead of calling you. This helps both of you.
If they make you angry, remember, telling them either subtly or strait out about their problem probably won't make them change, but you will probably have to do it anyway, if for no other reason than the fact that it will be known to both of you that it was brought up.. If they're blind to it, subtlety will only go right over their heads. Remember, people tend to believe that they're never 'the one with the problem'. And if you tell them strait out, their arrogance may surface and they will claim insult, deny, and stubbornly refuse to change. In these cases, even if it is with a family member, you may have to simply and permanently refuse their demands, even if it destroys the relationship.
Lastly, try not to become like them! This is very important, especially as we get older! My grandmother was very much like the old woman crossing the street above. She rarely asked for help, though she, much more than most, had every right to expect it if she did ask. She always helped others to help her when she did need help and would also help anyone else in need at the drop of a hat. And she always went out of her way to not be a burden to anyone else. I try to be like her in that regard and hope that I'll always try to be this way.
I don't ever want people thinking, "My god, what does he want now?", or "He's calling again, how much is it going to cost me this time?", when I call them.
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