I heard on a podcast the other day, “enabling comes in many forms”.
How true that is.
A person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behaviour in another.
I’ve spent many years in the past enabling others to continue to treat me in a certain way, or continue a certain pattern of behaviour without setting boundaries.
I’ve enabled people to continue an addiction.
I’ve enabled people to continue living in poverty consciousness.
I’ve enabled people to continue justifying their behaviour.
I’ve enabled people to continue to use me or speak to me like shit.
We teach others how to treat us, and when we fail to set and manage boundaries, we let them know that what they’re doing is ok.
I never enabled anyone from an intentional place to cause harm.
But by continuing to stay silent, by avoiding the conversation or avoiding taking action because it felt too hard at the time, I definitely caused harm.
I caused myself the most harm.
By not speaking up about the consequences of their behaviour, we enable them to continue causing harm to themselves and others.
Codependent relationships are characterised by couple caught in a victim-rescuer, perpetrator-enabler style of communication and behaviours.
Enablers often end up taking on the responsibilities of the ones they enable.
In my past relationships I ended up taking on the responsibility of being the responsible one – the one paying the bills, managing the other person’s emotions (usually unsuccessfully) making sure there’s food in the house, paying the mortgage, maintaining the house chores and working 6-7 day weeks for years because I had to.
As an enabler, you step into the role of “over-functioning” to balance the “under-functioning” of the other.
It sets up expectations that continue throughout the relationship.
It’s exhausting and leads to burnout, illness, anger, resentment, bitterness, anxiety and depression as well as isolating from those around you who don’t understand why you do what you do.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ENABLERS
- avoid conflict to keep the peace
- in denial about the relationship
- bottling up of emotions
- hope the problem will improve over time
- they lecture, blame and criticise the other
- take on the responsibilities of the other
- repeatedly come to the rescue of the other
- try to protect the other from pain
- treat the other like a child
- financially support the other even when they’re a grown adult
- try to control the other
- continually endure
- always willing to give “just one more chance”… and then another… and another
- can join in on the problem activity, even when they know it’s harmful
Stopping enabling behaviours can be really painful, as often it means cutting the person off partly, or completely.
One of the biggest things I had to do to stop my own enabling behaviours was love myself more.
I’d tried for years to partly cut off the other person, by staying in the relationship but setting more boundaries over time with my time, money, energy.
But when that leads to less and less respect from the person as a result, you know it’s time to cut them off completely.
It took me a good few years of self love techniques to finally get it right and leave.
After one more chance… after one more chance… after one more chance…
Finally there were no more chances.
You know what I realised in the end?
What I thought I was doing out of love for the other, was way more about a lack of love and respect for myself.
And suddenly, I realised I’d fallen out of love with those people I was rescuing long before I left.
Where are you enabling others in your own life?
Do you recognise yourself in my story or in the traits listed above?
Not sure what to do about it?
Start by asking yourself the important question:
“If I truly, 100% loved, honoured and respected myself, what would I do differently? What action would I take/not take? Who would/wouldn’t be in my life anymore?”
Write it in a journal.
Get it out of your head.
What do you need to do next?
Well, that all depends on you and your situation.
As always, if you’re not sure where to start and need a guide, reach out to me and I’ll let you know how I can help with coaching and/or energy work.
Catcha on the flip side, where the rescuing and enabling days are long gone,
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