Demystifying the ‘Iroko Tree’ and ‘Stolen-Luck’ syndromes

Milicia excelsa tree (Iroko) at IITA-Ibadan

Milicia excelsa tree (Iroko) at IITA-Ibadan (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)

-Iroko Tree Syndrome: A belief that you are financially better than everyone around you and once they ask you for any form of help, you gradually (and willingly) assume the role as their sole source of sustenance and help them with just enough to get by and never get up. And by extension, you expect eternal servitude from them and make yourself beyond reproach. This is a belief steeped in ego, greed and self-importance. (This is also referred to as the art of over-rating oneself!)

Stolen Luck Syndrome: A belief that you are unworthy of success and that there are those who have been either been blessed with or have ‘stolen’ your luck and so they owe you a piece of their earnings. Thus, you willingly and clearly relinquish all sense of personal responsibility to others. An idea steeped in mental laziness, envy and a defeatist attitude. (It is also referred to as the art of purposeless living!)

“It takes courage and wisdom to give and receive; it is not only that we give of yourself, time and resources that counts, more importantly, it is ‘HOW’ we give. Give with graciousness and an open heart and be humbled for a chance to serve God in others. To do otherwise robs the receiver(s) of self-respect and diminishes their dignity. The same goes for those on the receiving end: ask with grace and a humble spirit, for no one owes you anything, nothing is a birthright…It is better to say no with grace than to ‘give’ with disgrace. Remember, your widow’s mite is always enough”. ~Whole Woman Network~

Principles to manage the ‘Iroko tree’ and ‘Stolen Luck’ Syndromes:

  1. You cannot give what you do NOT have, do not attempt to play God in people’s lives. Give and receive unconditionally, and not as control tool or mechanism for self-inflicted bondage or slavery;
  2. You cannot please everyone and it is NOT your responsibility to do so. If you give because you seek to please, you will end up drained, depleted and depressed and everyone ends up unhappy and/or unfulfilled;
  3. As long as you are clear in communicating your boundaries, they will be respected. People will operate within established boundaries if you are unambiguous in your communication and consistent in your actions. It is your responsibility to teach others how you wish to be treated;
  4. It is always better to give from a place of joy. If you feel people should be eternally begotten to you because you’ve come to their aid, or you feel resentful/used/manipulated after giving then you have to take a step back and evaluate why you give;
  5. You always have a choice to say either ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. Learn to exercise both from a place of power and not a place of fear of what people will say or think (refer to #2 above);
  6. We are all created equal before God. You are no better or worse than someone else. We simply have different opportunities and skills. Our overall mission in life is to serve one another in different ways with dignity, grace and respect;
  7. Teach people to fish and don’t just hand out fishes (Note to giver: ‘You don’t have enough fishes to give everyone who asks’. Note to receiver: Nobody owes you anything; no one has ‘stolen’ your luck! Your hands are also blessed, so receive with humility and bless the giver);
  8. If you want to build wealth, you must make sacrifices. Focus first on helping yourself, so you may be in a better position to help others in sustainable and meaningful ways;
  9. Don’t deplete your ‘Goodwill bank account’ with frivolous requests. Learn to differentiate between what is important/essential versus what is not essential;
  10. As difficult as it may seem, sometimes people really come to you for help because they have no other recourse. Life can be difficult and challenging especially in this harsh economic climate. Some people truly need the help. Be empathetic, sincere and do the best you can under your particular circumstance. In the end, it comes down to creating a balance between your well-being and your duties/responsibilities. HIS grace is sufficient for us all.

Live beautifully, live passionately, live freely.


Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.

You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!

w(H)olistically Yours,

© Whole Woman Network

7 thoughts on “Demystifying the ‘Iroko Tree’ and ‘Stolen-Luck’ syndromes

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  4. Pingback: A personal finance guide for women of colour: ‘miscellaneous expenses’. « Whole Woman Network

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