Generous to a Fault

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People come under financial pressure for many different reasons. For some, it is simply that they don’t earn enough to cover their living expenses. For others it is failure of a relationship or a business. Redundancy and illness can also bring about huge financial pressures. Another common reason why people find themselves struggling financially relates to their own generosity. There are certain groups of people who are prone to being overly generous; that is, they look after the well being of others while sacrificing their own financial security. Among these people are single parents who spoil their children to alleviate guilt or buy their affection, doting grandparents, grandparents raising grandchildren, philanthropists, and the ‘sandwich generation’ with elderly parents and children who are struggling with employment, relationships or early parenthood. That is not to say that all people in these categories are overly generous. What causes people to sacrifice their own well being for others? Sometimes, those who are too generous are simply not aware they are putting their own well being in jeopardy. Perhaps they are aware of their sacrifice, but optimistic that things will be alright for them in the future. More often than not, people who are overly generous have difficulty setting boundaries with others. There is a fine balance between being self-centred and being other-centred. Self-centred people lack empathy for others and act in a selfish manner, while other-centred people give to others to their own detriment. Usually there is a psychological basis, which may relate to such factors as early childhood experiences, self esteem issues, and interpersonal skills. Societal pressures can also play a role. If you are struggling financially despite having a reasonable income, consider whether it would be helpful to talk to a counsellor about setting financial boundaries with other people in your life.

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