Be Supportive, Not An Enabler
I think it is very important to distinguish the difference between being supportive & enabling someone.
Being supportive is a great, helpful thing & enabling someone is not helpful in the slightest & really only leads to trouble for both sides.
Let’s start with what it means to be an enabler. Enabling someone can look a lot like love.
You want to be kind & caring & not shatter that person’s world. But you also need to be real with yourself & realize you might also be enabling because you fear rejection & hurting that person’s feelings.
By allowing someone to continue in damaging behaviors or aiding in those behaviors and activities, you create more damage.
Enabling can also be seen as not allowing someone to deal with negative emotions & consequences, which can eventually lead someone to believe their behavior is acceptable.
Some examples of enabling:
Allowing someone you know claim they are sick when you know they are hungover & have a problem with alcohol.
Allowing a child to skip school because they didn’t get their work completed.
Giving money to someone that is struggling with gambling or buying things they need to not be purchasing.
Maybe you don’t realize you are enabling someone. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are:
Do you find yourself making excuses for the other person?
Do you often put your own needs second to someone else?
Are you constantly telling yourself whatever the behavior is that it isn’t a big deal?
Do you find yourself trying to take responsibility for their actions?
Now let’s talk about being supportive. Being supportive can look like someone that is available to listen when needed, give advice when asked, be there to support specific, individual decisions, give general love & comfort & be trustworthy & safe to be around.
And as I mentioned in my previous blog post, being supportive also means learning to balance between being helpful & positive, but also honest & realistic with your comfort & advice.
And you will know that you are overstepping your bounds when you try to force your advice on someone, try to take control of the situation, or start making assumptions about the situation or problem & becoming judgemental.
Being supportive with an edge of honesty is the best place to be, but will require some practice if you are aren’t familiar with giving honest yet kind advice/opinions while still being helpful.