Project Genesis

Helping Others While Helping Yourself

Question: I can be the most giving person. I would fold myself into four to help others, but then people take advantage of me. How do I juggle being a good person with not letting others take advantage of me?

Answer: There is no easy answer to your question, although I would imagine that the fact that you are aware that it is a problem is a good first step. Without knowing any details, I would suggest that you sit down and compose a list of your basic can’t-live-without needs. This list should include the absolute minimum time, energy, money and emotional strength that you need to keep going. Which times during the day can you just not make yourself available? How much relaxation (and sleep) do you need to function properly?

Perhaps you could also track the time you give to others through the course of an average day. Just as Judaism does not allow one to donate more than 20% of their income to chairty, you might want to restrict your time for others to a maximum of 20% (or whatever lower percentage you feel is reasonable)

When you’re done, store the lists somewhere private and safe. Taking this concrete step might well make it a bit easier for you to say “no” when necessary.

I wish you the very greatest success!

With regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

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