Enabling vs. Helping Behaviors

By The Valor Team
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm in
man helping man up mountain at sunset


“Make a habit of two things–to help, or at least to do no harm.”
- Hippocrates

It's human nature to care for and want to help someone you love. However, there is a very fine line between helping someone and enabling bad behaviors.

So, how does helping differ from enabling?

Enablers will also often try to solve the problems for the people they are trying to help. Solving their problems makes the enabler feel as though they are doing something good for the person they care about. The truth, however, is that they are hurting them. Enabling behavior that needs to change will also create a negative dynamic in the relationship. The person needing the help becomes unable to live their life in a healthy, independent and responsible manner, and therefore becomes dependent on others. The enabler then takes on responsibilities that are not truly theirs. This can ultimately create resentment in the enabler and a very unhealthy and unbalanced relationship overall.

If you are wondering whether you are being helpful or enabling, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find yourself making excuses for them?
  • Do you regularly put your own needs aside because they need your attention?
  • Do you have a feeling (or know full well) that the behavior you are witnessing is unhealthy or irresponsible?
  • Have you lied (or routinely lie) for them?

So what should you do? 

It takes work and self-control to allow someone to suffer the consequences of their own choices. No parent wants to see their child fail and no person wants to see someone they love suffer the effects of bad decisions. But “helping” and “supporting” in these situations often requires you to do
just that.

So you may need to become the spouse who calls the hang-over alcohol abuse and insists on change, or the partner that requires selfish behavior stop and insists on balance in the relationship. These roles are not easy and you may find that you need help yourself in enacting them. By putting a stop to the enabling behavior, however, you will ultimately make a true difference in someone’s life. You will help them live life in a self-sufficient and healthy way.

If you or someone you love is struggling, please call Valor Recovery Centers at 330-330-8777 for help.