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Author Topic: SELF-AWARE: Are you supporting or enabling?  (Read 24173 times)
united for now
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« on: May 19, 2009, 02:47:26 PM »

What is the difference between being "supportive" and being "enabling"  

Being supportive is doing something for someone else that they are unable to do for themselves. Ex. picking up the kids from daycare because your partner is stuck in traffic.

Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. Ex. calling in sick for them, doing more than your fair share of chores.

When we enable people (addicts, children, friends or family) we prevent them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. We are also preventing them from realizing they have a problem and depriving them of fully reaching their own potential. Our efforts to help them wind up contributing to them staying sick and dependent on us. The relationship gets worse as both people respond in more and more unhealthy behavior.

Over time  the enabler (us rescuer nons) become resentful and angry over how much we wind up helping others. We lose site of how to break the cycle of “helping others”.  Also, the “help” provided to others (especially those lacking the motivation and determination to stand on their own two feet), can become a long-term expectation and even an outright demand, where the other person now expects us to "do" everything thing for them. They essentially play the helpless needy victim while we portray ourselves as the self sacrificing martyr.

So why do so many of us engage in enabling behavior?

* Because we confuse helping someone with doing it for them.
* Because we are pressured and manipulated into believing that we should do things for others.
* Because we fear the consequences if we don’t do things for them.
* Because we base our self esteem on helping others.

We tend to want to rescue and protect our loved ones from experiencing any pain or getting angry with us or pull away from us.

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Of course, it is easy to see how the Rescuer can become the primary enabler for an addict or alcoholic, but she can also become the primary enablers for the Big Baby, the Victim or the Runaway. Enabling is what the Rescuer does. The definition of enabling here is the unconscious encouragement of another's dis-ability. Not another's disability, but another's dis-ability. In other words, whatever it is that the other person is refusing to do for him or herself, that's exactly what the Rescuer will do. This encourages the other person to continue to refuse to do it for him or herself.


ypically, the first question the Rescuer will ask when this information is given to him is:  "Well, how do you know they are refusing to do it; how do you know that they simply can't do it?"  The answer? Stop doing it for her and watch what happens. Typically, he already knows what happens because he's seen it several times by now: "She pitches a holy fit!"  Or, "She gets really pitiful." Or, she ups the ante by getting sicker or more needy in someway--even sometimes going as far as to threaten or even attempt suicide. It is interesting that the poor Victim, now turned Bully, can put all of this enormous energy into pitching a fit, getting pitiful or upping the ante, but can't find one ounce of energy to save herself.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/traversing-the-inner-terrain/201104/the-rescuer-identity

How many times have your kids told you they were too tired to help out, yet found the necessary energy to go out and play with their friends?

How often have you listened as they complained about their sore back lying in bad all day, while you get home from work, take care of the kids, prepare dinner, clean the house, etc?

Have you been the subject of emotional blackmail, where they tell you to fix/solve/save them or else?


What does support look like to you?

What does enabling look like to you?
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MaybeSo
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2009, 03:30:55 PM »

Support: 
If you are married and your spouse develops a problem with alcoholism, you support them in seeking treatment, setting clear boundaries around what you will and won't tolerate, and do what you can to help them to get healthy; and do what you can to maintain your health, too, inlcuding, sometimes, what may feel like tough love if you feel it's necessary for your own health or the health of your children and home life.  That also mean letting the person experience the consequence of their decisions/actions/addictions.  this person would say they are supporting the person becasue they love them, even though it's hard.  You stay as healthy  as possible, the family stays as healthy as possible, the person with the alcohol problem has a choice to get healthy or not.

Enabling:
If you were marreid and your spouse develped a problem with alcoholism, you would call his work for him on the mornings he was too drunk to go in explaining that he has the flu again, if he was verbally or emotionally abusive when drunk, you would hide the results from family/friends or make excuses for him, and rationalize it to yourself, you would go to great lenghts to maintain an air of normalacy and work overtime to help compensate for a partner who is unable to contribute their part, and you would do so becasue you love them and care about them...but you would be building up a huge reserve of self-rightious resentment and bitterness, too.  Both of you get sicker, and the family gets sicker.

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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2009, 05:39:36 PM »

Money  barfy

My 19S is horrible with money.
He used to ask me for laundry money (he's in college), but I knew it was actually for ciggs.
Enabling him is giving him money to smoke  for laundry.
Supporting him is allowing him to use my washer and dryer.

any others?

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dea0328
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 05:57:05 PM »

Hmmm, this one is tough. I still somewhat struggle with how much to support my H without enabling him. To me supporting somebody you love means being there for them to listen to them when they're having problems, if they're trying to work on something being there for them when they struggle with it, encouraging them when they're doing good, etc. Enabling means allowing them to continue their bad behavior/habits. I know we can't force someone to stop doing a certain thing but we can definately set boundaries about what is tolerated. Also, let them suffer their own consequences for their actions without "saving" them from their mistakes. I don't know, might be wrong on this one.
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arjay
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 06:14:53 PM »

What does support look like?
Telling my kids "gee I am sorry you forgot your assignment again.  I would be upset too knowing I was going to get an "F".  Let's go get you a "planner" so you can write down your assignments and we can go over them each night"

What does enabling look like?
Telling my kids "gee I am sorry you forgot your assignment again.  Don't worry I will call the teacher and tell her the dog ate it this morning"

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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2009, 07:06:30 PM »

Support:

 "Yeah, it does suck not having money to do fun things.  I wish we had some more options too.  Maybe we can figure out a few fun things that don't cost much."

Enabling:

 "OK, we'll ask for a credit line increase so we can charge some fun stuff."
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2009, 09:48:05 PM »

 i have another good one
 okay my daughter i use to enable her all the time i would do the laundry then take it upstairs and put it away and clean her room okay she is 17 

now i support her i will do her laundry if she brings it down stairs but i will not enable her by cleaning her room putting away her clothes.  you know this took a while to learn .. her room is just a real mess knee deep in clothes..

 she is good with me also with school stuff.. she wants me to call the teacher tell them a reason her paper didn't get done make up something to give her a few days more to get it turned in and i use to do this... boy i was an enabler

 now i am supporting her and understanding okay this will give her an F but all i can do is let her know i am sorry for this but can't lie to a teaCHER  and arjay  my daugher one time actually wanted me to call the teacher to tell them the dog ate the paper, she knew otherwise they wouldn't beleive it.. and you know what i actually did it... but only once...i was horrible and i knew it i needed help.. This wasn't long ago, i am learning...
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2009, 11:00:51 PM »

Mom! I forgot my project at home, and it needs to be turned in today. Can you bring it to school for me? if you don't, I'll fail the class. Please mom! You have to save me!


enabling parent brings in project so child doesn't fail.

supporting parent empathizes with child on how you hate when you forget things too. Boy, your boss would fire you if you messed up like that. Isn't it great that you have a parent that loves you so much that they do the right thing for you?  angel
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 03:12:30 PM »

Enabling ends up "spoiling" the other person to expect unreasonable things from us.

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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2009, 10:24:43 AM »



Support
Okay, since you now want a joint account while I have worked to build a savings and you previously did not want one and you're having difficulty staying employed, we can go and open up a joint account.  You save "X" amount and I will contribute double that amount so that we can build a balance together.

Enabling
Okay now that you have lost another job you want access to my cash whereas before you lost your job you wanted nothing to do with opening a joint account.  Okay I'll give you legal access to half of everything I have saved and earned to keep you happy with me.

(I did the first one.  She didn't like that idea...lol)

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