Generosity or Irresponsibility?

For Tonya:
Most of my realizations come from introspective conversations with my friends. I often speak to those closest to me about my personal revelations and the work I am doing to become a more whole and enlightened individual .

A recent conversation led me to share how I often feel taken advantage of for my generosity. Due to the perception of my financial situation, many within my circle of associates and friends expect me to give freely or pay for things. As a result I sometimes feel people take my kindness for weakness. 

After explaining to my friend various situations, I concluded with, "I guess it's because I am so generous." Tonya didn't hesitate to lay down the truth when she said, "Ulysses in all cases I don't think you are generous, in some I just think you are irresponsible. There are moments when your kindness and generosity are necessary and it's beautiful, but at a certain point, be careful not to be irresponsible with what is given to you.” She explained that some people are counting on my irresponsibility to feed their own desires. And when I continue this pattern, it creates a dynamic where I feel the friendship or connection is one-sided and hence not useful.

As I thought more about what she said I realized that being in a one sided relationship makes it easy to feel like the victim. Once I  feel victimized, it’s easy to not take accountability for my actions. In my life, the quickest way not to fix myself is to get comfortable in the position of being the victim; feeling like the whole world is set up against me, and seeking solace and reward for being put in that position. This happens until a great friend says, "Hey snap out of it. You created this shit."

As a man of action, I decided to get real with myself and figure out why I created this narrative of being "too generous" in the beginning. I am the kind of person that if I enjoy your company, and want to spend time with you, but you can't afford an outing,  I’m like, who cares, come along and let's have a good time anyway. Well, that continual acceptance of someone not being able to take care of their own needs breeds a behavior where that person could potentially feel that they never need to have their stuff together. Thus, making what was supposed to be a partnership or friendship, into co-dependency. 

How did I deal with breaking the cycle? 

I simply stopped! I had to realize that my needs and my money matter despite how generous I might want to be. Beyond just taking a break from certain folks, I needed to really fix my behavior, so that I don’t create this dynamic in new relationships. Being aware of my own needs will inevitably fix this situation from occurring again. And having to be more responsible over time cures the irresponsibility. 

I will continue to be generous, as it gives me great joy, but while making sure that my generosity is not at the cost of my own personal responsibility to my needs, financial or otherwise.