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"Dwight, you're so cruel"

My client David was telling me a long, convoluted story of how he had lent his "friend" Sara money several times in addition to doing her other favors. Now he felt used and betrayed that she had not paid him back and was even upset with him for something he did. "Am I being a victim again?" he asked me.

My policy in lending money or doing "favors"

"David, I'm not necessarily saying you should have the same policy that I do, but here's my approach. If I'm going to lend someone money or do them other favors, I'll make sure that I'm happy to make that 'loan' or do those favors even if the money or favors are never returned. I look carefully at and accept whatever risks may be involved in such 'generosity' and decide clearly that I am taking 100% responsibility for those risks. This means I don't get to blame another or myself if they don't keep their promise to me. I am prepared to treat that 'loan' as a 'gift.'"

Trading out your integrity

"But you didn't do that, David. You were focused on 'being a good guy' and avoiding looking bad if you said 'no,' right? You traded your integrity with yourself and with her in exchange for feeling comfortable in those moments when you were being the 'good guy.'"

Think about the market

David plays the stock market. So he could relate to the following analogy.

"When you buy a stock, David, there is risk which you take with your eyes open. Yes, you have reason to believe it will go up, otherwise you wouldn't buy it. But it could go down. A good investor, who's got their head on straight, will be able to take the ups and downs of their investments with equanimity, neither blaming the market nor himself when stocks or a particular stock goes south. Yet, when you made the 'investment' of loaning Sara money, you did not do that with eyes open, fully accepting the risk that she would not pay you back. In 'trusting' Sara, you blindly put at risk both yourself and your relationship with her. And now you think you're a victim of her when, in fact, you set it all up so that this was likely to happen."

David, while both laughing and crying, accused me,

"Dwight, you're so cruel."

"The truth will set you free...but first it will piss you off."

-Werner Erhard

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