Sunday, May 26, 2013

How much is too much.....

I would say that how much is too much can be explained with the help of difference between proactive guidance and control. I personally feel that there is a very fine line dividing the two especially in our minds. On most occasions when we think that we are guiding or helping, others perceive it as control. When we feel we are doing so much for others, they feel what was the need? Not really our problem. It is their problem. Or am I missing the link somewhere? I cannot say with authority. Let’s see if we are able to understand this ‘sticky situation.’

I have tested all my personal relationships for this hypothesis. Not surprisingly the answers have been very similar. As a mother when one anticipates needs and proactively satisfies them, the child feels "why did you do it." As a spouse one takes steps to ease out the problems for the partner, the partner feels "what was the need." As a family member one makes all attempts at creating an atmosphere where life is smooth for the co-inhabitants, others feel "why are you doing this much." As an employee one goes beyond the call of duty, the superior or peer quips “was it really required.”

I have often faced this dilemma in terms of how much is too much or where should the ‘lakshman rekha’ be drawn? I am also cognizant of the fact that many people may not be faced with such predicaments. Blessed are those individuals. I truly feel that.

But for others I have my sympathies and some thoughts. Like value proposition in a business relationship is defined by the user or customer. Similarly value of what you have to offer in any relationship cannot be defined by the giver. It has to be the recipient.

Anytime that one is doing anything proactively for someone else, stop and ask yourself some basic questions. Did the person ask for this favor? Will my child appreciate my efforts? Will my partner be able to understand the feelings behind all that I am doing for him or her? Will my family members feel that I am doing this for nothing else but maintaining a positive atmosphere at home or that one genuinely cares for others? Not very difficult or superficial questions but answers to these can put most of the things on track for us. It will help us in being sync with our core self and at the same time get away from the haunting question – how much is too much.

Anything done for others when asked for or implied is what is appreciated by others. Only when you are with people with common interest and values that you stand the chance of being appreciated for proactive thinking or doing. But then world is not made of exceptions.

So go with the flow. Provide guidance when asked for and you escape the tag of being forceful or tending towards exercising control. How much is too much when you fail to let the recipient experience or acknowledge the need for your service or support. Bitter but true for most relationships.




  1. have had similar experiences too. but when i ask my mother this question 'how much is too much' she says do it for yourself not others. i feel my parents and grandparents have overdone it innumerable times but i think twice as the respect they hold amongst the 'customers' or recipients so to speak is immense even today. that makes me wonder-would going an extra mile be a hindrance for me or would it make me happy, leave the feelings of others aside. but yes one should not be taken for granted always, need to draw the line somewhere, sometime at times. dilemma always for me too.

  2. True. I have often wondered about this too and as you rightly put, the same guidelines apply across all relationships.
    Also what is important to understand is that a person's needs could be different from what you or I perceive it to be. So waiting to be asked ids important and equally important is to ask the recipient what it is that truly makes a difference to them. Efforts matched with needs will give the best results.

    1. Shalu - sometimes you feel do it anyways as part of your duty....but I guess specially in case of kids when they grow they may not like it given the times they are growing up in. We as parents are so used to old ways that sometimes it feels difficult to give up old habits....but i guess one needs to step back with changing times ...