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Are You Selfish or Is It Boundaries?

Written by Paul Wolf

You lend them money, loan them your car, and house sit in a pinch. Are your pals taking advantage of you?

Problem-solver and stress-buster Jerry Minchinton, author of Wising Up: How to Stop Making Such a Mess of Your Life and Maximum Self-Esteem, provides advice on when and how to say no.

Question:  I'm always doing favors for my friend Diane. I've lent her money. I've let her borrow my car. True, two years ago, she let me store a bunch of stuff in her garage when I was going through a divorce. Now Diane has asked if she can stay with me for a week while she moves out of her apartment. I have the room, but I'd rather have the place to myself. Am I obligated to invite her to stay?

Answer:  You don't have to help, but you may want to.

You are not, as some folks seem to think, indebted for life to a person who has done you a favor. Is it any wonder there are people who wouldn't ask for a favor if their life depended on it? In a way, Diane has the opposite problem. She's comfortable asking for favors, perhaps too comfortable. She may even have a sense of entitlement.

Say no when doing a favor doesn't feel right to you. Your reasons are your business. You don't have to make up phony excuses. You don't have to say, "Is there some other way I can help?" Nor do you have to be so brutally honest with her that you start a big conversation about your relationship.

Watch this video of Debbie Ford who wrote the best-selling book about "shadow work",  balancing internal conflicts.

All you have to say is that this is not a good time for a houseguest. If she pushes to know why, that ought to throw serious doubt on your friendship.

That said, what underlies your reluctance to help? Is Diane being a spoiled brat who has created her own problems? Is she exploiting one favor from long ago?

Maybe you feel you've helped her enough over the years. But just as you don't want her to keep score, you shouldn't either. If she's an excellent friend who has a genuine or even desperate need, your justification for not helping her is weak.

Remember, when people ask for help, it is always ill-timed. True, you don't need to give her a reason for your decision, but you do need to give yourself one. You'd be living with her for a week, while you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

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