I find myself at the age of 30 with a much broader and richer perspective on life and love than I had in my previous decades.
There’s so much I pick up on that used to fly completely outside my radar—like the small ways others cross boundaries, often without even being aware.
What I believe to be one of the most insidious of these violations comes when people try and ask me for a “favor.”
Now, the kind of favor I’m talking about is not at all what the term actually means, but more of a perversion that subtly manipulates the person receiving the request.
What do I mean, exactly?
Well, a true favor is done simply for the sake of it. It takes place with no expectation of any reciprocation, and may even happen without an actual verbal request.
This type of favor is completely different…
When someone asks for this other type of favor, the majority of the time, they’re expecting you to accept and carry it out automatically.
“Hey, can you do me a favor? The garbage goes out on Monday, so I’ll need you to collect it in the morning.”
“Can you do me a favor? We have guests coming over, so I’ll need you to clean up the house before they get here.”
“Can you do me a favor? I want to see this show on Friday, so I’ll need you to cover my shift at work.”
On the surface, these seem innocent enough, but I guarantee if you were to refuse this type of favor, it would create massive friction.
The requestor has already decided you are going to agree to the demand. To me, that’s one of the worst kinds of assumptions someone can make.
What can make things worse is going along with that type of ‘asking’ over a prolonged period of time.
The more you do it, the more they expect you to do it.
The longer you let it carry on, the longer it takes to stop the behavior. It can become a vicious cycle that leads to you feeling terrible about yourself for being such a pushover.
How to Set Boundaries Against “Favors”
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent people from asking you for a favor. But you can begin setting boundaries.
The first step is cultivating awareness.
Once you’re aware of what the person is actually asking for, you then have the power and freedom to choose whether or not you want to help the person.
If the request feels like a violation of your boundaries, say no.
You don’t need to offer explanations. You have the right to say no, plain, and simple.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely experience friction the first few times you do this, but just carry on, and you’ll get past this stage.
You’ll also notice that the more you exercise your free will in this area, the less they’ll actually ask you.
At first, favor-requests may just reduce slightly, though eventually, they’ll stop altogether.
Approach this process from a perspective of love and understanding. There’s no reason to vilify the other person and create any unnecessary resentment between the two of you. A simple “no” will suffice.
What If I Really Want To Do Them a Favor?
That’s completely fine as long as it’s of your own volition.
If helping someone comes from a place of love and sincerity, there’s nothing wrong with doing so, from time to time.
What’s not okay is letting someone cross and trample all over your boundaries to fulfill their own agenda. That’s why it’s critical to begin establishing those boundaries firmly and respectfully.
Boundaries Are a Gift to Yourself
With your awareness of this act of asking for “favors,” you’ll experience newfound freedom to choose.
Setting boundaries can help you develop a much greater level of self-love.
To choose how to react, what to act on and, ultimately, the course of your relationships with others is a powerful act of self-love.
You might find there are people in your life who are only around because it’s convenient, or they find you “useful” in one way or another.
Whenever possible, it’s best to eliminate these people from your life. Doing so will open up more space and create a higher level of freedom.
For those people in your life who just seem to have a bad habit of making those requests, it’s entirely in your power to train them out of it. It will take time, but with persistence, firmness, and patience, it’s more than possible.
Next time someone requests a “favor,” I really hope you think deeply about it and do what’s best…for YOU.
Please don’t let others trample your boundaries and undermine the love you deserve for yourself.