For those that like things as they are – be prepared for change. We are now in a year nine, a year of completion, forgiveness, and bringing something to an end once and for all – and that includes our limiting patterns of behaviour. 2016 is bringing in the New and a new age of Love that will continue to transform the conflicts within ourselves and all that is not Love.
Either way, in an uncertain world the one thing we can be certain of is we will always attract someone into our life that will “trigger” our unconscious stored energy and limiting patterns of behaviour that are ready to be released, integrated and transformed into Love.
In our desire to help others, to serve or be of service, and through our friendships and relationships of any kind, more than ever now we need to be mindful of where we are compromising ourselves through our well intentioned deeds – for it is through situations of misguided Love that we will be forced to Love OURSELVES more.
When we are being emotionally triggered by what we do for others – including gift giving – it is my truth that we are being given an opportunity now to break the dysfunctional pattern of enabling both individually and collectively to release the energy consciousness around victim, rescuer, persecutor – and guilt. By recognising our “enabling behaviour” and setting stronger boundaries (particularly women) we find our voice – much needed by those who want to change their patterns of people-pleasing and care-taking and set themselves free.
Self Love is being loving and kind to ourselves which grows from the actions we take that support us in healthy ways. And that includes learning to protect ourselves from others if it is harming us. That sounds obvious, but what do we do when our good intentions of helping someone or those we Love ends up back-firing and hurting us? So Love’s healing message this month is this:
Are we truly helping them – or are we enabling them?
If you are not ready or willing to look at where you may be compromising yourself, or can’t be bothered to take the time to read and embrace the depth of this Heart offering in its totality step by step, then this message, given freely and without obligation – is not for you.
If however you are willing to take responsibility for everything you attract and experience in your life, and have the courage to explore your inner world, then what I offer here is an invitation to take a quantum leap forward into SELF LOVE and SELF MASTERY.
In the name of LOVE
Enabling is disguised behind the mask of the Helper, so if your helping another is causing you upset, are you willing to be honest and dig deep within yourself to restore integrity, balance and peace of mind? Are you willing through a surrendered Heart to uncover, reveal and admit to yourself your own faults and unhealthy behaviour? Are you willing to drop your ego and forgo your pride, and willingly acknowledge your fears, your pain and frustration? And in the name of Love, are you willing to embrace grace and humility to open your Heart to what life brings – even if you don’t understand and would prefer to hide what hurts behind a mask without exploring what it is trying to teach you? Are you willing to look at your enabling behaviours as an invitation to truth that sets us free?
Healing begins with Love…SELF LOVE and learning to take care of ourselves. What I am about to share here may be a hard realisation for some, particularly when we wake up to the truth and realise that through our good intentions, we may have been inadvertently enabling someone rather than genuinely helping, and at the expense of our own well-being too.
What I offer here and from my own experiences is intended for self reflection, self awareness and self inquiry – giving plenty of examples to recognise where enabling behaviour exists and transform it into a higher level of consciousness.
You may recognise that parts of this story may be your story too, but it is not about being a victim, focusing on the “bad” or negative aspects, blaming others, remaining stuck in the past, or getting attached and enmeshed in emotions. It’s about recognising and acknowledging from a surrendered Heart our limiting patterns of behaviour that impact our lives, taking action of some kind to change them, so we can learn to Love OURSELVES more.
You may also find things repeated – just to reinforce a message or bring something into awareness. Because…
When what we are doing for another hurts us – it’s not Love
Enabling is an insidious pattern that can appear in very subtle ways that we are not always aware of – as well as in its extreme forms. Whilst the term enabler is commonly used within dysfunctional relationships of alcohol and drug abuse, “enabling behaviours” exist in all kinds of relationships that although may not be addiction related, can be co-dependent. Even though we may consider ourselves to be in highly functional inter-dependent relationships or friendships – dysfunction can still be there within them.
We are all enablers to a certain degree. When identifying if our actions are helping or harmful, by taking action of some kind and setting stronger boundaries we not only release the enabling pattern and the pitfalls it creates – but we also clear the way for a profound capacity for love, appreciation, support, understanding and inter-connectedness at a level that we may not have experienced before.
If you are someone who Loves helping and supporting others, have become accustomed to the role of care taker and are a people-pleaser, a problem solver, a “doer”, feels guilty because you think you are responsible and have assumed or taken on a disproportionate amount of responsibility for certain tasks around the home or with over giving to others, are frightened of conflict, sat yes when you really mean no, are a “nice” or compassionate person who allows someone to keep using you for favours even though you may not want that, makes excuses for someone else’s behaviour, covers up for someone, continues to allow others to walk all over you or take advantage of you, or exploits or deceives you and you say nothing – over helpful attitudes like this are, and can be considered enabling behaviour.
The Silent Witness
If you are willing, all you need do now is imagine yourself looking down the lens of a microscope and become an observer – a silent witness. From this vantage point of unemotional detachment, let us allow ourselves now to look through the microscope into our world and observe the games that we all have been, or still are playing. There is no blame, shame or judgement here. We are all messengers, teachers and students for one another.
Enabling also becomes a dysfunctional pattern when we try to help solve another’s problem but which ultimately makes it worse
We can only ever really genuinely help someone if that’s what they want and they are ready to receive it. So where is the boundary between genuinely helping someone in need, and standing in their way enabling them to not take responsibility? And where are we not taking responsibility either by not taking action and allowing the enabling to continue?
I suffered greatly (unconsciously) from the impact and consequences of this pattern in my life because I used to be scared of conflict and all the perceived injustices in my life were so unfair! That is, until I woke up to the realisation that I cared more about relationships and friendships and other people more than I cared about myself. My constant self sacrificing never worked. Maybe you are still spending a lot of time and energy, including finances and other resources trying to “fix” and rescue people, but the truth is people have to rescue and save themselves. Whilst we never stop sharing our Love with others and although helping is done with the very best of intentions and loving kindness, an enabling pattern is also:
When we create, or have created, a situation that allows a dysfunctional behaviour to continue
Pain and suffering is one of life’s greatest teachers. I know. But the truth is it was just an invitation to discover a deeper wisdom within me. Illness and disease was the gift that finally woke me up to look at my over inflamed ego so I could begin to heal the harm I had caused myself from my perceived injustices, my enabling addictive behaviour of care-taking and people pleasing, and turn it around into care-giving and self-love. It is still an ongoing process, knowing that life is an unfolding mystery that I don’t have all the answers too.
Living with chronic illness appears to be a part of my life’s path to go into the murky waters of the underworld of thoughts, beliefs, feelings and emotions and the deeper mysteries, so I may bring that understanding back for others, trusting there is always a higher purpose to what is happening in our lives and that all is in Divine Order.
I also learned that through my lack of mental and emotional hygiene I allowed my addictive thoughts and beliefs to run riot. Through my own co-dependent unhealthy one-sided relationships, my lack of self esteem and poor boundaries, my fear of conflict, I unconsciously enabled the users, passive-aggressive abusers, liars, losers, the controllers, the manipulators, the mind gamers, the Heart breakers, the dream stealers, the back-stabbing co-workers, the energy vampires, the Jekyl and Hides, the free-riders, the doubters, the co-dependents, the abandoners and betrayers, allowing others lack of planning to become my responsibility, for constantly trying to justify myself to unreasonable people, for failing to recognise the difference between Love and sympathy, foe accepting the excuses, for ignoring a problem to “keep the peace” because the other would become defensive, and the “victims” who constantly “dumped” their emotional baggage on me but would turn away from the help given by me in trying to alleviate their suffering.
Without realizing it, through misguided Love and compassion I enabled all the above and in so doing, compromised myself. Yet it was all – all of it – a sacred beautiful dance for me to remember who I AM. It’s important to remember it’s not about blaming another (or beating ourselves up), it’s about recognising the pattern, forgiving ourselves, acknowledging the part we played in keeping the pattern in place, and seeking professional help if we need it.
Loving too Much
Perhaps we may think we are just being a good friend or doing someone a good turn. The difference between doing someone a good turn and enabling them only becomes obvious when the person you have helped or done a favour for continues to avoid taking responsibility. We in effect deprive them of the consequences of their actions by enabling them to continue to act irresponsibly – and that includes continuing to allow them to manipulate or inconvenience us.
Enabling is picking up the slack and doing something for someone that is quite capable of doing it for themselves
The consequences for the person who is being over helpful can have far reaching consequences too which can be both physically and emotionally damaging if we continue with an enabling pattern and if we are not aware of our own beliefs that keep the pattern in place.
Most of us like to help others and we get great joy from doing so, but it would be helpful to see if we have any misguided motives behind our desire to help by asking ourselves,
“Why am I doing this? When I offer someone help how does that make me feel – and what’s in it for me?”
Whilst the other has someone to keep doing things for them they are not take responsibility for themselves – and whilst an enabler continues to keep doing things for them in believing they are helping, they are not only depriving the other a reason for changing their ways but they are also depriving that person of the lessons and consequences if they don’t.
When we allow or assist someone whether passively or actively to continue in their own unhealthy or unproductive behaviour, we are enabling them. An enabler is also someone who enables another to continue in self destructive behaviour – and enabling others is self destructive behaviour for us too. It is not Love when we suffer in silence and do not deal with someone’s controlling behaviour – we are enabling it to continue. We each much take responsibility for our own behaviour and recognise:
When we enable anothers behaviour, we put the needs of others before our own
The reason enabling hurts us is that unconsciously it gives us a false sense of control. Although we have done things with the best of intentions, we can end up feeling angry, frustrated and resentful when nothing changes in the other person. Our misguided compassion of being a “Good Samaritan” can backfire on us when we abandon and betray our own needs, and bring our downfall into imbalance or ill-health if we are not careful or conscious. We are also seeing misguided compassion and an enabling pattern playing out collectively in Europe at the moment as “authorities” ignore the rape of women and sexual offences taking place, thereby reinforcing dysfunctional behaviour and enabling the wounds of injustice to continue.
The Silent Cry of a Wounded Heart
I am not the person I used to be. Through my own experience of being a chronic enabler for most of my life, I cried when I eventually woke up to the cold hard truth that not only was my misguided loyalty and compassion of helping, over giving and over care-taking causing me harm and much suffering from comprising myself – I had also harmed and deprived others from valuable lessons by saying and doing nothing about it. I am not inviting anyone to a pity party here and I need no sympathy! Just shining a Light for others to look in the mirror and discover if we are settling for a life of excuses and “less than” instead of getting our own wants and needs met.
I cried for all the times I had been over responsible in relationships and friendships, putting others needs first, allowing others to “take” from me and saying nothing, putting up with physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse and staying silent, remaining in an abusive marriage that was harming me and my children because I was too frightened to leave and had protected the guilty by keeping it a secret. I cried for all the times I stayed in relationship/friendship out of a sense of obligation that were dysfunctional and emotionally unsupportive, and disclaiming responsibility for my own discontentment.
I cried for all the times I had accepted another’s justifications and excuses, for all the times I gave others just one more chance…and another….then another. I cried for all the times I had avoided confrontation and conflict without challenging it just to keep the peace. I cried for all the times I had been over responsible and that I was not consciousness enough to give back the responsibility to others for their actions.
I cried for all the times I had felt angry and resentful for picking up the slack for someone not doing a fair share or pulling their weight. I cried for all the times in my life where I had put up with disrespect and maltreatment and said nothing. I cried for all the times when I thought I was helping – when in truth I was enabling others to continue harming me by not setting boundaries and allowing them to continue what they were doing and thinking it was ok.
I cried for all the times when I acted from a sincere, misguided sense of loyalty or compassion. I cried for all the times I unconsciously tried to rescue/fix others and nothing changed. I cried for all the times I enabled another to manipulate me and did nothing about it because I was frightened of their disapproval. I cried for all the times of not being aware enough that I was only responsible for myself (and my children when they were young). I cried for all the times my enabling behaviour had harmed me and I wasn’t conscious enough at the time to know any better. I cried for all the times I had given myself away and not made “me” a top priority. I cried for all the times of not loving myself enough to say NO MORE! And I cried for all the times I had felt so weak and powerless and did not know that:
Tough Love was the most powerful healing tool that would have set me free
Whilst I am no longer that enabler that I used to be, have forgiven myself for the things I did in ignorance, and others too for the parts they had played to awaken me, I also know that with my best intentions and the awareness I have how easy it can be to inadvertently fall back into this insidious pattern of defensive dishonesty and the dysfunctional behaviour that lies behind it.
Waking Up from the Trance of Enabling
Here’s some more. We may not like it when someone keeps asking us for favours and we know they are capable to do it for themselves but they choose not to. We may feel angry or resentful because it can be an inconvenience us – of out time, our finance and resources. But we do it anyway because they are a friend/relative/family member/neighbour/work colleague. We’d feel guilty if we didn’t because they need us right? We keep “saving” our adult child/friend every time they get in trouble by bailing him/her out. And the friend we listen to for hours on end, continually dumping their “stuff” on us about how awful their husband is but won’t follow advice, take action, or do anything about it…but we keep listening to the same old, same old and allowing them to drain our life force energy in the hope something will change – but nothing changes does it? But we can’t say no can we? Well it wouldn’t be right would it? After all, we are a kind, caring person and they are our (you fill in the blank).
Before we jump in to “help” someone we need to ask ourselves if our own actions or behaviour is contributing to them not wanting to change. We may think we are helping, but the truth is our behaviour could be the very thing that is giving them a free reign to continue doing what they are doing. Why else would they change if they have someone to keep doing things for them? We break enabling behaviour when we learn to focus on what we are responsible for, and
Allow others to be responsible for themselves
Here’s even more. So if you find yourself helping someone and it hurts you, being over responsible by doing something for someone who is quite capable of doing it for themselves, rescuing someone by bailing them out or trying to fix their problems, making excuses for someone’s behaviour, doing things just to keep the peace, allowing needy people to keep dumping their same old baggage on us, letting the kids in your home do as they please with no intervention, allow them to smoke, drink, do drugs or let them play computer games in excess and do nothing about it, believe you are helping an alcoholic or drug addict by buying them a drink or food when they have no money, compromising yourself in an abusive relationship and protecting the guilty by keeping it a secret, putting up with disrespect or maltreatment by your partner or with a friend and saying nothing, putting up with verbal, mental, emotional or physical abuse and remaining silent, constantly nagging and nothing changes, lying for someone, continually clearing up someone else’s mess (yes!), when those closest to you are unable to stand on their own two feet without you intervening – if you can relate to any of this then perhaps it is time to look to yourself to see where you could be enabling these behaviours to continue and the beliefs around them that keep the pattern in place. And at what cost to you and them? Enabling is not Love. It is co-dependency. And it is co-dependency that allows dysfunctional behaviour to continue. The power is within us all now to stop being influenced by this subtle and not so subtle pattern in our lives.
The Shadow side of Giving
Whilst we are not responsible for how another feels or their thoughts and beliefs that create them, we can also innocently enable an imbalanced relationship of debt and obligation by the very act of our giving which can create feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, guilt, resentment and frustration for one or both parties as well.
If we are on the receiving end of someone’s help and generosity and feel bad, or we as the giver feels obligated to keep giving to that person,
We also need to be aware of the beliefs we hold around helping that may be keeping the imbalance in place
Whilst we may be grateful for what we have received from another, if we feel bad and perceive it as a debt rather than a gift our fear of not being able to pay it back or give a favour in return can reinforce the feelings of indebtedness we feel towards the giver. The giver, acting out of Love and friendship, can also feel burdened and morally obligated to keep helping someone out because of their own beliefs around what they might perceive “as a sense of duty” and what one must do to alleviate the suffering of a friend in need. This can create feelings of guilt and resentment. The core issue in giving is to ask ourselves,
Does giving bring us joy or do we feel frustrated and resentful because we feel duty bound?
Where do we feel we have an unspoken duty of commitment? Where do we feel another’s needs are more important than our own or are more than we want to give? Obligations can cause us to feel burdened and resentful and controlled by other peoples needs. We also need to ask ourselves where we are hiding behind a sense of obligation that is holding us back from reaching our potential by remaining in toxic or unrewarding situations. If there is an expectation from another that we are not comfortable with, it can lead to feelings of powerless for both – a time for taking action of some kind me thinks.
Resolution comes about by expressing and communicating what it is we need – and what is not acceptable. Sometimes it becomes obvious that the relationship/friendship if imbalanced is no longer serving both parties.
Setting boundaries, including emotional boundaries and saying NO – returning the responsibility to whomever it belongs is the key to end the dysfunctional pattern of enabling between ourselves and our loved ones. Whilst tough Love can be a powerful healing tool, it can also be a painful one too.
Tough Love is having the courage to recognise there is a problem, take action of some kind, and do what needs to be done knowing you are doing it with unconditional Love for someone’s good. Tough Love is knowing that we love the other person enough to take the risk that even though they may hate or resent us, may not forgive us or ever want to see us again, by being tough and returning the responsibility back to them we are giving them the best Love we can give. They may not even recognise the impact their irresponsible behaviour is having on us. We need to remember that our uncomfortable feelings are never about another it is about us – they are just the messenger to bring our blocked energy to the surface so we can heal limitation and separation that has been created of the mind, claim the wisdom of the Heart – and allow Love to lead the way.
You may not have recognised or been aware of enabling behaviours before, whether you choose to take any action in your life from the insights you have received is entirely up you. When we put an end to our enabling behaviours and excuses we find our authentic self and put an end to “victim consciousness”. We also find the person we were before life’s challenges took a toll on our health and well-being. When we can break the chains that bind, we can stand in our power, find our voice, and give our gifts to the world. There are no guidelines or rules to follow anymore. There is no road map or guidance manual.
Our only compass now is in the feelings of the Heart
Healing Circles and experiential Gatherings are held on a regular basis for bringing forth higher frequencies of Light for healing and opening the Heart on many levels to facilitate personal transformation, self Love, self care, health and well-being. If this article has touched you in some way and you would like to begin or continue your journey of unfolding with Linda, please feel free to contact her using the contact page at the top.
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In Love and Grace, Linda