We’ve all likely experienced them at some point in our lives – maybe even had one masquerade as a friend or caring family member – the question is…at what point will they open their eyes to the damage they are bestowing upon others.
Enablers do not live within the normal confines of reality. They are the architects to their own warped realties and often…almost always, never accept responsibility for their harmful actions.
Why? Well, in some sense it’s not their fault. An enabler will most certainly feel they are doing it out of love or a deep compassion for the victim of enablement. This is why it is so tough to convince an enabler what they are doing is merely perpetuating a problem rather than assisting in alleviating it.
Enabling is a term with a double meaning.
As a positive term, it references patterns of interaction which allow individuals to develop and grow. These may be on any scale, for example within the family, or in wider society as “Enablingacts” designed to empower some group, or create a new authority for a (usually governmental) body.
In a negative sense, enabling is also used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem. A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person’s harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person them-self does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. It is a major environmental cause of addiction. – Source Wikipedia
Take a drug addict for example.
There are many instances when the family or loved ones of a drug addict will lie, cheat and even steal, to save themselves from further suffering at the hands of the drug addict whom they care for so much. A mother is typically the most difficult family member to convince when their child is an addict or facing some serious trouble including breaking the law. However this is not exclusive to just the mother, I’m simply saying that a mother is most likely to regress in to denial.
Outside of family, other individuals who enable people often have weak boundaries, low self-esteem, and have difficulty being assertive when they communicate with others.
Although the majority of enablers do so with the best of intentions, what happens when the end result is tragic?
Enablers also lack another important element to normal human behavior – and that is responsibility. More specifically for their own actions.
When, after a period of time of enabling someone, the victim of enablement dies, those who enabled for so long will be the first to point the finger at others. Again…this all comes from the above traits and zero acceptance for any sort of responsibility now that tragedy has struck. In fact, it is not uncommon to see enablers “flock together” when tragedy hits. It’s that group mentality thing. Then again you could look at it another way…
Birds of a feather flock together
The fact of the matter is that, enablers for the most part are part of life and sincerely do have the best of intentions in mind, however then again there are those that are malicious – these are the dangerous ones. A danger to the sufferer, a danger to themselves and a danger to those around them.
Think of it this way…
When a person becomes enabled by others which permits them to continue their damaging behavioral traits while loved ones wear the mask of compassion, things can become very perverted. The loved ones can, and often do, become sucked in to the vacuum of the sufferer’s twisted reality. This often leads to the enabler acting out of pity whilst continuing to believe it’s out of compassion.
Once inside the alternate reality of the sufferer, an enabler’s perception can become severely convoluted – even to the point where they begin to make up excuses for themselves as an escape to the real world reality that they are abusing the sufferer further.
There is a fine line between compassion and pity, and when that line becomes blurred, we can fall in to a state where we alone feel responsible to heal the sufferer. It is during this time that we become susceptible to our own inner demons. We begin to question our own integrity and how it plays within reality. Even compromising ourselves to compensate for the sufferer’s twisted behavior. Before we know it we are in a state of pity and pity is 100% abuse.
It is a lesson in human behavior to witness this type of behavior first-hand.
Watching while people put aside their intuition and moral values only because they feel this false sense of incumbency to the sufferer. Enablers will often set aside their own gut feeling that “something isn’t right” because they are so consumed by the alternate reality of the sufferer that common-sense and logical vacate.
A very well written piece on this subject goes like this…
When you find yourself constantly dwelling over another’s situation as well as altering your psychological and emotional states to compensate for another’s predicament – then you are enabling someone.
Now next time you say you are “supporting” someone because you care – think again – and step back and look at yourself for a moment. Are you acting out of true compassion (no affect to your emotional state) or are you acting out of pity?
Say no to enabling and recognize the damage it can create. Let’s begin to actually help those who need it without placing further damage upon them.
Start with opening yourself to logic and begin listening to that gut of yours…because the reality…the “real reality”…has a way of surfacing and telling you that something’s just not right. After all…we all just want to do right by people…right?