How To Help Others Without Hindering Yourself

DSC_0438croppedRecently I’ve been battling with putting limits on how much of myself I give to others. The concept of being a good friend leads us to believe that selflessness means doing for others without question or limitations and I don’t know about you but that approach seems to always come back to bite me in the butt.

There’s also the issue of knowing when and how to mix business and friendship (if at all) and how to handle situations when we feel more invested in others’ businesses or ideas than they are themselves.

So let’s jump right in to it.

Friendships

Society’s definition of a good friend is someone who is selfless and has a selfless love toward another person and that tends to be associated with being a person who does for others before they do for themselves or puts others’ needs above their own. Here’s my issue with that: By the law of “you can’t help other before you help yourself” this idea of putting other people’s needs above your own becomes very contradictory. If you’re not taken care of how are you going to effectively take care of someone else? Secondly, this idea of taking care of others and never putting ourselves as a priority perpetuates the idea that we should be everyone else’s best friend but never our own. You deserve your friendship too.

This idea of putting ourselves second creates much more than the false belief that we’re being a good person/friend. It also creates feelings of guilt around taking care of ourselves. How many times have we felt guilty about not wanting to answer the phone when we feel drained or when we just don’t want to deal with anyone? How many times have we felt guilty about taking that much needed vacation because we feel like work “needs” us? Why should taking care of ourselves be a negative thing? If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

Business

Now, as a general rule it’s said that friendship and business don’t mix. Although more often than not this rule tends to prove itself true, in recent years we’ve seen more and more businesses started and maintained from friendships and some of them do to succeed. From my observations, the businesses started in friendship that do succeed are the ones in which the people involved are very clear that although they are friends, the business should be treated seriously and that any personal feelings are kept outside of the business. Other than the trust they’ve developed through the friendship (which is and must be supported by actions like keeping your word and delivering on promises made) it’s necessary to have a very good grasp of detachment when it comes to doing business with friends and this is where the tricky part is because being human (as I assume all of us reading this are, right? RIGHT?) separating personal feelings and remembering not to take things personal tends not to be the easiest thing to do.

Emotional Involvement

It’s also very important that all parts are equally committed to the business or else there will always be someone feeling like the other person isn’t pulling their weight. Now here comes the tricky part, the part I’m personally trying to figure out: what about those situations in which a friend asks you for advice on their business? It’s not your business but because you care about the person you treat it as seriously as if it were. How do you set the limit on how much of yourself you give to them? How do you make sure you don’t become too involved to the point where you start ignoring your own projects? How do you deal with a different personality, a different way of handling obstacles, a different idea of what’s important and what isn’t and how do you keep yourself from taking it all out on the friendship?

A very wise friend of mine once told me that sometimes what people really want from you is for you to listen to them and not your advice and the more I thought about it, the more I understood how true this is. But putting this into practice wasn’t so simple. The thing I found most useful, as corny as it might sound, is being in the moment, taking a few seconds before responding to step away from yourself and our general tendency to react to things (as in, to give a reactionary response) and really evaluate what is being asked of us. It’s just like counting to 10 before you respond to an angry comment or taking a deep breath before dealing with an uncomfortable situation. It gives us time to detach from our natural reaction, from any personal feelings, to remember that you’re dealing with another person’s work/life situation and not your own and then give the most appropriate response. 

This is a lesson I’m still learning. It requires a lot of awareness and self control which isn’t always the easiest thing to do but I guess time, patience and practice will get us to where we need to be.

And that’s it for today! Let me know! Have you ever gone into business with friends? What was that experience like? Have you ever had to deal with being more invested into someone’s project than they were and if so, how did you handle it? Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave them all below!

Love,

Sunshine.

 

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7 Comments

  1. :D….ikr…I haven’t been in a business where my friends are my partners yet..but I have sold my product to a friend, and I have mixed friendship and business when I agreed to let my friend pay me later, and I let her walk away with my product without being paid for. She paid the first 60% of it. and the other 40%. never came to me. After I have asked her several times for her to pay me. cuz this delay was jeopardizing my business flow..as it was only beginning..but still..she never paid. this actually made me feel like my trust on her was lessened. Not because of the money…but the fact that she told me ..she would pay…she didn’t keep her word..nor she have asked for discount …so, lesson learned… very good topic.. I guess we can only really learn through experiencing this situations..its a very slippery floor…but not impossible to walk on…a field to explore 😛

    Reply

    1. Hehehehe indeed a field to explore!! 😉
      Maaan!!! I did the same thing, a friend of a friend “bought” stuff from me and was supposed to pay later and later never came. And it feels so awkward to ask people for your money right? And it shouldn’t be awkward! We live and we learn I guess hehehehe.

      Reply

  2. i have been in projects with friends, and they tanked. much because we were never in the same level of commitment. right now i have a project and i allowed some friends in on it, but i’m not giving them any major responsibilities, i’m just letting them help me in some non consequential stuff, so i don’t have to do everything by myself. now i know that if i am the most invested, i should be prepared to do everything it takes to succeed, and using tools is one of those things. i know they are not as invested as i am, sure, but now i know how to use their limited investment, i guess… meaning, i can’t possibly do everything by myself, but also i can’t expect everybody to be as commited as i am, so i’m learning to use the little help i can get from the people i have available to me and my projects 😀

    Reply

  3. Loving this topic, here is how I see things, I personally think, when one is young i.e teens, 20s: by all means be that selfless friend, put your mates first bla bla, but in your 30s when life gets trickier and inevitably harder as responsibilities grow with your job, immediate family, perhaps the one you have of your own, its time to dial that shit back…as for doing business with mates, I’ve worked with a few and I think it helps for both parties to express what they want, deadline dates etc in some kind of written agreement…this can be tough when the person is a really gd mate and giving you a really cheap deal..for e.g. I have a v gd mate who has been taking shots of me and I pay her coz she took so many for free and I didnt want to take the piss…we have nada drawn up but I did expressly state what I expected from her an deadlines…it was a risk not writing anything official but she delivered in the end ( :

    Reply

    1. I can imagine how difficult those conversations must be (the ones leading up to drawing up a formal agreement). But they’re definitely necessary I think. It at least lets both parties know that the matter is serious and not just a “friends hanging out” thing.

      Reply

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