Hi, I’m Dr. Dwonna Goldstone,
a dog-loving, terrible dancing professor who wants to share what I think! Got any questions? I’ve got answers!
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Any advice on withstanding guilt tripping? I don’t know how to tell my family “no.”
Dear Beth S.:
This is a tough one, and it took me a minute to be able to say no to my parents when they wanted me to do something I either did not have time to do or had no desire to do.
First, I want you to understand that you probably should not feel any guilt for saying no if you are being asked to do something you simply don’t want to do. You should only feel guilt if you are doing something morally wrong, something destructive, or something harmful. (Yes—there is some overlap in those three things.) It’s probably hard to say no if a family member is really sick and wants you to come see them; perhaps you can find a way to go visit but not stay very long. Maybe you can FaceTime or Zoom your sick relative so that they are “seeing” you, even if only virtually. I HATE talking on the phone, so I am using one of the times I walk my dogs to call a relative who is kind of lonely and likes to hear from me but is very good about ending the phone call as soon as I announce that I’ve made it safely home with the puppies.
What if a family member wants you to loan them some money? Either say no or give it to them. Remember this old proverb: “Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more—the money or the friend.” This extends to family, too. Do not feel one ounce of guilt if you either do not have money to lend or do not want to lend someone money because you don’t think they will use it for the reason they say they need it. BUT, if you do decide to lend a family member money, do NOT expect to get it back. This expectation will leave you hurt if the person does not return the money as promised.
At the end of the day, you were given life so that you can have a life. While it is important to be grateful and to help when you can, you are not obligated to help when it can potentially hurt you (both physically and emotionally). Learning to say no is hard, and with practice, it can become easier, even with guilt trips from mom.