Help! I Think I Made a Terrible Mistake When Helping My Elderly Neighbor (The Codependency, People Pleasing Trap)
The letter below, and the summaries of other ones I am mentioning here (below the link and excerpt), should be a wake up call to anyone who has a difficult time saying no to people, refusing to turn down their requests, whether out of a sense of guilt or fear.
If you really struggle with turning down people’s requests for favors or for help (even if it’s someone who seems to legitimately be in need of help, such as a solitary, lonely, elderly neighbor with chronic health problems who is in a wheel chair), you may be codependent, a people pleaser, or an empath with very bad boundaries.
(And there are people out there, such as, but not limited to, Covert Narcissists who can spot nice, sweet, giving people like you in a heart beat, and they will waste no time in taking advantage of your kindness to get their needs met.
Even genuinely well- meaning, kind, nice, non-narcissistic people will and can lean on you too much, if they are very needy and you don’t put boundaries up.)
You need to learn that it’s perfectly fine to draw boundaries with people, even elderly neighbors who live alone who have health problems.
It’s okay to be straight forward and tell such neighbors that while you’re fine doing X for them every Z number of weeks, that you don’t want to do it more than that often, and you don’t want to also do Y, Q, and R for them.
The following is a letter someone sent to an advice columnist.
I will be including more comments below this link and excerpt:
Dear Prudence: Help! I Think I Made a Terrible Mistake When Helping My Elderly Neighbor
I had no idea one kindness could turn into this.
Advice by Eric Thomas
June 4, 2022
I moved into a new upstairs apartment five months ago. I made the mistake of helping my wheelchair-bound neighbor, “Stella,” with her groceries during my move.
Stella had her bag break in the parking lot after she got off the bus. I put down my boxes and ran to help with her items and then put them up in her kitchen.
Stella told me about how she was alone in the world and on a fixed income.
I told Stella I would be happy to run to the grocery store for her since I go once a week.
Stella calls me every day now. She has problems with her doctors, her bills, and for anything and everything, she calls me. I have tried to be kind and helpful—but now I need help.
I should have set firm boundaries earlier, but she is a little old lady, and I was lonely in a new city. But I am not her daughter or her granddaughter. I am okay with running to the grocery store or being an emergency contact or coming over for tea and a chat—but not this.
Adult services are useless.
Stella’s life isn’t in danger, and she had enough income to be disqualified from the majority of services.
She isn’t cruel or abusive or mean. She is old, scared, and alone in the world.
But she is suffocating me.
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