DEAR ABBY: You receive many letters from people telling you they are taken advantage of -- by friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Why don't these "victims" assert themselves and refuse to do that which makes them uncomfortable?
The people who drop in unannounced, or the out-of-towners who freeload, are not friends. They have their own agendas and don't stop for one second to consider the other person's feelings.
I used to have a close friend until she asked me if she could borrow $50,000. Her request occurred less than three months after my husband was downsized from a corporation after 19 years. The friendship was never the same after I had to refuse.
My formula is simple: Choose people who treat you the way you treat them -- with consideration and respect. Perhaps some people say yes too often because they want the whole world to love them, and that's why they end up frustrated and resentful. People need to be stronger and simply speak up and just say no. -- BARBARA IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
DEAR BARBARA: I agree that if people were more assertive, fewer would be taken advantage of. It's impossible for anyone to be loved by everyone -- and giving beyond one's means does not guarantee that the giver will receive respect and affection in return.
Classes in assertiveness training are offered by community colleges, community centers and some seniors centers. Books on assertiveness are also available at public libraries and bookstores.
DEAR ABBY: Because of your well-known compassion for animals, I thought you might be interested in knowing what my twin daughters, Lindy and Barbara Wallace of Moscow, Idaho, did for their 50th birthday last year. They decided to make it a special occasion.
They held their party at a local church and had it catered. A small jazz group provided music.
At their age, they decided they didn't need any more "stuff," so the invitations requested donations to the local Humane Society instead of gifts. Friends brought a mountain of dog food, cat food, pet toys, collars, leashes, pet carriers, etc. And many contributed money for the Humane Society wish list.
The Humane Society, which has a no-kill policy, was delighted -- and everyone had a wonderful time. -- BILLYE WALLACE, BUTTE, MONT.
DEAR BILLYE: Although I have heard from readers describing how they turned their special occasions into benefits for food banks and homeless shelters, yours is the first I have received about a benefit for an animal shelter. It's a clever idea for a worthwhile cause. There's no telling how many imitators you have unleashed.
DEAR READERS: Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., whose words of wisdom ring as true today as when he uttered them during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964:
"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.
"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
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