Q. My brother seems to take advantage of my good nature and love for him. He always wants me to help him, or lend him money, but he never offers any help to me when I need it. As a result, I am very stressed with a lot to do and now he has asked me to collect some stuff for him when I have to catch an early train for an important appointment. I don't want to do it and feel very resentful. Am I wrong?
A. You are the wrong one here because you have allowed him to treat you however he wishes, and now that it is having an adverse effect on you, he thinks you are being unreasonable. But that is not surprising. Many people don't realise that when they do not set firm parameters of behaviour from their families and friends they will be treated like doormats.
You obviously love your brother and like to help him. But he seems to have taken that love and help for granted so that it has become only one way. There seems to be little reciprocal action on his part. He has a willing horse and so he is using it fully. But you need to be assertive. What you have been doing would come under the heading of 'passive aggressive'. You do the things quietly, you suffer in silence and every now and then, when the frustration is unbearable, you might blow. But that won't get you anywhere except a bad reputation. It definitely won't change your situation because you will just keep reinforcing his actions when you feel better.
What you need to do urgently is to make some rules for yourself and stick to them. Have a clear chat with him. Openly tell him that because you get NO help with what you are doing, things are a little tight with you now, hence why you need the money. And you need it quickly. Also point out that you won't be able to pick up his haul because you have to be on a train to Porchester. Next you mention that you won't be able to help him as much in the future simply because no one helps you and it is getting difficult to cope. Then stick to that firmly. Go on your journey without looking back.
Remember that every time you help your brother without him seeming to care about your situation you teach him to keep behaving that way and reinforce it too by your actions. Respect and love start with the self. If you have little respct for how you're treated and little self love too, how can other people show you the respect and love you desire? It is not possible. It is entirely down to you and only YOU can change things to what you want. If you don't, you will simply keep getting more of the same in a never-ending pattern.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms Cyprah) 2011
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"