Enabling: A Brief Introduction
Rescuing people from their responsibilities can cause them great harm.
Melody Beattie writes, "As counselor Scott Egleston says, we rescue anytime we take responsibility for another human being- for that person's thoughts, feelings, decisions, behaviors, growth, well being, problems, or destiny"(&*). To put it another way, "Enabling is any behavior which, however well intentioned, serves to protect dependents from the consequences of their use [of a substance or practice a behavior] (Krupnick & Krupnick, 22).
In their well-intentioned efforts to help, enablers may lie for their loved one, allow abusive behaviors, hide the truth from relatives and friends, defend their loved one when others point out problems, help them with legal difficulties, change the home environment to accommodate the person with the problem, and refuse to discuss the problem with anyone.
A person cannot continue in a life-controlling problem indefinitely unless there are enablers making it possible. Eventually, without enablers, people run out of options and hit bottom. As long as there are "helpers" enabling them, people will not find help.
Enabling is progressive. It begins by making small allowances for someone's irresponsible behavior and gradually progresses until our lives are dominated by trying to cure and control our loved one. This progression leads to what is known as codependency.
Taken from Living Free Coordinator's Guide, Jimmy Ray Lee and Dan Strickland, Turning Point, Chattanooga, TN, 1999, pp 81. Used by permission.