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Enabling Others = Hurting Yourself

“Another person’s dysfunctions should never become your burden to carry.
When you enable others, you harm yourself.”

There’s a difference between having compassion for another person’s struggles and sacrificing your life to try and fix them. Lots of people get caught up I various dysfunctional behaviors. One person’s struggles might be anger and rage, other might have an addiction, and still others might struggle with control or depression. We all have our struggles and dysfunctions. Some are partly medical (mental illness), some might come from trauma or family of origin, and some might be a result of bad habits, harmful beliefs, or poor peer groups. Regardless of the reason for a person’s behavioral struggles, you are not responsible for fixing them.

Take that in…you are not responsible for fixing someone else’s issues.

Trying to solve somebody else’s issues is harmful for you and the other person. Given them emotional support—absolutely. Have compassion for how difficult it is for them to change their ways—certainly. Lovingly set limits—totally. Sacrifice your life for their issue—no way.

Although we may love a person very much, accepting their dysfunction is not about love. It is about setting good, strong boundaries for yourself about what you will or won’t accept. Otherwise shrinking to a person’s rage, going along with a person’s addiction or catering our loved one’s mental illness is not helpful—to you or to them. If they are not actively addressing their own issue, don’t sacrifice your life trying to get them healthy.

Challenge: Refuse to enable hurtful behavior. Point your loved one in the right direction to get help Don’t collude to keep the boat from rocking. Don’t accept the unacceptable.


By Lisa Merlo Booth c; 2017
My  mentor and Relational Expert.


Wendy Allen, Ph.D, MFT is an expert in couples and marriage therapy. She has been practicing in Santa Barbara for almost 30 years. She is the only Marriage therapist in the tri-counties using the Real Relational Living model, from which all of these ideas are based upon.