ASK COLETTE: “When to Stop the Money Train”

It’s never easy to say ‘no’ to a family member in need. Here, Boomer Intuitive Coach, Colette Baron-Reid on when it’s time for tough love.

Dear Colette,

My brother, “Ken” is a few years older than me. He has a lot of self-confidence issues and is socially awkward.  He has been laid off a few times from major corporations during the slow economy as well as lost jobs for a number of reasons. Each time it has taken him longer to find another job. He freelances to try to make ends meet but I can’t imagine he interviews very well so it’s hard for him to be reemployed. I feel bad because things that come easier for me (social interactions, interviews, etc.) are so much more difficult for him. As a result, I often loan (more like give) him money every time he asks for it. 

My feelings are a mixture of guilt for our different lots in life and anger because I feel he is a procrastinator and plays the victim. Either way, I feel the need to look after him.  I don’t want to see him homeless and possibly fall into a deep depression. How do I say “no” when he asks, without hurting him or me? – Supportive Sister


Dear Supportive Sister,

This is not about your brother it’s about you. Huh? Let me explain.

Are you planning to have endless streams of income to take care of yourself, not to mention your brother? If so, I’m sure there are a lot of other relatives waiting to take you up on your offer to fund their lifestyles.

If your constant PayPal or check deposits haven’t made a difference in his behavior and his choices, why do you keep rewarding him? You are enabling him to continue on the same path.

He is an adult—responsible and accountable for his choices and his actions (or inaction). Procrastinator. Victim. Unlucky. Those labels have a way of seeping into our identity – and when they are reinforced by our current actions and our loved ones – look out!

At the same time, you are also part of the problem. Are you the reason your brother is socially awkward? No. Do you feel the need to nurture your older brother because it gives you a sense of purpose, a way to nurture and feel needed, and in control? Hmmm…just sayin’.  Be honest with yourself—what’s truly driving you to keep the money train rolling?

Does it make you anxious to say “no”? Why is that? Again, that’s more about you than him, isn’t it?

Now I’m not trying to paint a desperate picture, but…if something happened to you and your financial situation, who’s going to take care of you? For this and many countless reasons, YOU have to come first.

Be compassionate with yourself. Being fearful of your brother’s future is not your burden. Feeling anxious that he asks for help and you say “no” does not make you a bad sister. Guilt is internal—it is only present when we accept its premise as true and valid.

It’s time to take yourself out of this equation – both for your own well being, and his.

Love always and forever,
Colette Baron-Reid

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