The post in which I cut enablers some slack. Sort of.

As the result of my “fat cats are fat because they are lazy post”, someone suggested that Fluffy has an owner, or as my friend called the owner, an enabler. And the enabler is to blame.  My response to that is, well, yes, and no.

(side note: Fluffy is a cat.  Fluffy cannot be responsible for herself.  Fluffy’s owner is definitely to blame.)

So, let’s define what an enabler is according to my friend, and yours, the New Oxford American Dictionary:

enable |enˈābəl|verb [ trans. ]give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something : the evidence would enable us to arrive at firm conclusions.

  •  [ trans. ] make possible: a number of courses are available to enable an understanding of a broad range of issues.
  •  [ trans. ] chiefly Computing make (a device or system) operational; activate.

The term enabler is particularly prevalent when dealing with addicts.  And I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol.  I’m talking about any behavior pattern that serves as a buffer or as numbing agent against psychological pain.

An enabler is someone who gives someone else the authority or means to do something.  In other words, you want candy, an enabler will buy you candy.  They do this for many different reasons.  Some enablers enable addictive behavior because they want to keep the peace.  Some like feeling like they have power over someone else.  Some enable because they feel they have no choice.  Some enable because they feel special and important.  And the list goes on.

The impression I get from hearing other people talk about enablers is that the enabler is to blame for the addict’s problems.  “If only Tom would stop enabling Carrie’s behavior she would stop”  is rather rampant idea.

I believe that is only half true.

In my humble opinion, enabler’s are not solely to blame.  Enabling behavior is only half of the picture.  Here is what enablers are actually doing:

  • Encouraging bad behavior (directly, or indirectly)
  • Supporting bad behavior
  • Helping bad behavior
  • Making it easier for the addict to engage in addictive behavior

Notice I didn’t say that enablers are forcing the addict to engage in addictive behavior.  Because, it’s still the addicts choice.  They still  can choose to do what they want to do.  The addict is allowing the enabler to enable.

I believe enablers and addicts are in a symbiotic relationship.  Each feeds the other BS in a cyclical manner.  Both suffer equally from their sick behavior with similar delusions.  In other words, the enabler and the addict are both to blame.

Encouraging an enabler to stop enabling is still the right thing to do.  They should stop.  But that will only take care of half of the problem.  Be aware the addict will still engage in addictive behavior whether an enabler helps or not.

So, encourage the enablers in your life to stop enabling.   Show them how their behavior is hurting themselves and the person they are enabling.  And, hope for the best

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So tell me, how have  you encourage others to stop enabling?

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3 responses to “The post in which I cut enablers some slack. Sort of.

  1. This isnt exactly about an addiction, but my husband enables his bosses to take advantage of him because he never tells them No….I mean never….

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