Helping Too Much? You Might Be an Enabler

Blog 11

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you felt you were doing everything you could to help someone yet their negative situation just got worse and worse? If so, it’s possible you were enabling the other person.

You might be enabling whenever you’re trying to help someone, but your actions are, instead, exacerbating the issues. 

What can you do to break the cycle of enabling someone you care about? 

Follow these helpful tips:

  1. Stop. Even though it’s your friend or loved one, picking up the slack for them is not helping them get better.
  2. Instead, just observe. Rather than being so quick to jump in and offer help, sit back and watch what happens. Notice patterns in the person’s behaviors.
  3. Listen. Stay informed by hearing how your friend or loved one feels. A good friend listens attentively. Consider listening as an important act of caring.
  4. Allow opportunity for your loved ones to figure things out for themselves. Keep in mind that when you jump in and spontaneously offer your assistance all the time, the individual is robbed of opportunities to learn to resolve their own challenges.
  5. Decline any direct requests for help. Recognize that your continued efforts to pick up the slack now are setting up your friend or loved one for a big fall later. Accept that it’s better if it happens sooner – when the situation isn’t so far out of hand – than later.
  6. Recognize it’s not your job to fix their troublesome situations. When you decline to help, you’re silently placing the issue back squarely on their shoulders where it belongs. Remember, it’s not your situation; it belongs to them.
  7. Disengage emotionally from the person. Once you understand what you’re doing, you’ll be better able to remain on the outside of your friend’s troubling events. Think of your friend and their issues as a tornado. Then, decide to remain outside of the whirlwind.

If you believe you’re caught up in the cycle of helping a friend or loved one too much, step back and examine your relationship with the person. Then, apply the strategies above to stop enabling their self-destructive behaviors. If you still need help, consider coaching. As your loved one’s world becomes more overwhelming to them, it will encourage them to seek more direct assistance in resolving their underlying issues.

All the best!

Coach Dee

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