Too Much of a Good Thing

by Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT

We often talk about boundaries as keeping the bad out and the good in.  But what if there’s an abundance of good?  It can feel selfish or rude to tell someone to stop giving.  But on the contrary, it’s kind.  When you are at your max and you allow yourself to acknowledge that, the abundance is still available.
It’s easy to worry that if we are on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, they may be offended when we has for less.  We may worry that it will give them the impression that they don’t need to help us in the future.  This is a common misconception.

When someone else is giving from their overflow, and we are only willing to receive what we need, they understand that they can give to us when they have a little to give.  Other givers will see someone in need and will give to their detriment, so when we take only what we need they still have their internal resources left to give to themselves.  When we only take what we need, there may be others in need who are ready to receive that which we didn’t need.

There is a limiting belief that we are being ungrateful if we state that we have had our fill and the excess is hurting us.

Two things about this:

1.  Sometimes you’re right.  Not everyone is healthy.  There’s that old cliche that hurt people, hurt people.  That exists for a reason.  So there are people out there who will make another person feel bad, “you don’t love me.” Or “Fine, you think you’re better than me.”  But know, that’s their “thing.”  Telling someone that you do not need more of the blessing they are trying to give is about you – not about them.  So when or if they make it about them, know that you are okay and that they have their own work to do.  If you’re someone who gets their feelings hurt when someone declines your offer, there’s something deeper under there about that.  Talking to a professional can help.  Wouldn’t it be nice not to feel hurt about something like that and it just rolled off your back like water off a duck?

2. Use diplomacy.  Toddlers and teens have a way of saying no thank you that sounds really snotty.  And then when we get into our adult years there may have been long periods of time where you didn’t experience an over-abundance of giving.  Then when it’s here you don’t know how to respond because your only experiences were in your younger years and you probably got chastized for your delivery.  There might be a little voice in your head that says this situation involves chastisment.  Kids and teens don’t usually retain the nuances, just what they interpreted as cause/effect – and sometimes that lands in the wrong place.  Just say, “I appreciate all you have given, and I feel comfortable.  Thank you for your gift.  I would like you to enjoy some of it as well.” or something to that effect.

Acknowledge what they did or are doing is generous and kind, set your boundary that you are at your max capacity, and let them know that you want good things for them as well.

If you need more help communicating or understanding why your communication is on a different level than the people around you I would love to help.  You can set an appointment with me by contacting my office at or calling (530) 809-1702

By Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #104464