The Trouble With Overgenerosity

Apr 2 2012 @ 10:40am

Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert used her newfound wealth to pay off friends' debts and even bought them a few houses. Not a good idea:

I swept into their lives with my big fat checkbook, and I erased years of obstacles for them overnight — but sometimes, in the process, I also accidentally erased years of dignity. 

Sometimes, by interrupting his biographical narrative so jarringly, I denied a friend the opportunity to learn his own vital life lesson at his own pace. In other words, just when I believed I was operating as a dream-facilitator, I was actually turning into a destiny disruptor. Even worse, sometimes my over-giving left friends feeling shamed and laid bare. Sometimes, for instance, "lack of money" hadn't been a friend's problem in the first place: Maybe her real problem had been lack of confidence or organization or motivation. Maybe by erasing her money problems, all I'd done was suddenly expose her other problems.