Lovingly Saying No

Matt and his wife are on Baby Step 6, and close friends and family are starting to notice how well they're doing. How can they be a good influence without creating jealousy or resentment?

QUESTION: Matt in Indiana and his wife are on Baby Step 6, and some close friends and family are starting to notice how well they’re doing with their money. They’re now approaching Matt and his wife for assistance. How can they be a good influence without creating jealousy or resentment? Dave says he can’t.

ANSWER: You can’t because them deciding to be jealous or them deciding to be envious or them deciding to be twerps about you being a success is not something you can control. That’s them deciding that. It is heartbreaking. They’re not jealous or they’re not angry unless they figure out that you’re not going to give them free stuff. When they figure that out, then all of a sudden you’re too big for your britches. You’re snooty. You make too much, and you just think money’s everything. And it’s like, “Hey, I’m not the one who brought it up. You did.”

The reason that you are going to have to accept a level of it is because you can’t control it. All you can do is control your reaction to it. We just have to remember that person really doesn’t understand to the extent they don’t understand, and we have to have a little bit more distance from them—family member, friend, whatever. Others who do understand are usually people who have been there a little bit, honestly. What happens over time is you don’t mean to, but you’re just not going to associate with people who are trashing you. If you’re trashing me, that means I’m going to put some distance between you and me. That means I’m going to change my circle of friends.

As far as whether you actually help them in setting boundaries or not, you have a better call on whether you’re helping them than they do. By giving some people money, you know you’re giving a drunk a drink, and I don’t give people money who won’t live the way I teach because I don’t believe I’m helping them then. Instead, I’m participating in their denial. You can be nice and diplomatic about it, but you deliver that message.

Envy is the spirit of the land. There’s a spirit moving across America. Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, they say. By the way, there is a difference between envy and jealousy. Jealousy is, “I want what you have.” Envy is, “I don’t think I can have what you have, so I don’t want you to have it.” That’s evil.