Being Enabled


Few words resonate both friendliness and hostility as well as enabling does. In good circumstances, being enabled means living up to your potential, and someone who enables you is a fantastic ally to have. In bad circumstances, being enabled is a horrible state of mind which often imprisons the person within.

An enabler can be many people. It can be a partner, a family member, a professional – but most often, it´s you. You are the one deciding to quit smoking, and you are the one who is responsible for the upkeep of your body and mind. If you choose to enable your own vices, at least you will still have a degree of control over it.

If the enabler of your vices is someone else, it´s more severe. The enabler will consciously or unconsciously encourage you to be passive towards yourself, and encourage helpless thinking and behavior, so you´ll stay where you are and remain dependent on them. It´s a very creepy situation to be in and difficult to discern.

In my experience, in the field of psychiatric healthcare especially, the line between positive and negative enabling is rather thin. I have met a lot of psychiatrists that encouraged helpless behavior by approaching their patients as if the latter were less skilled and less experienced in life, even if the patients were much older.

Lack of faith and trust in my own abilities has, in previous years, enabled professionals (notice how I am the enabler in this situation) to encourage an infantile state of mind, in which I happily surrendered my gut instinct and my ability to think for myself to them, because I expected that they would find some solution.

This never happens. It´s very simple: the only one who has the most expertise in your life, is you. But I failed to comprehend this. Back then, I failed to understand that therapists and clients are not in a skewed relationship by default – that this is a construct that exists to explain away why so many settings do function this way.

It´s hard to trust yourself when society (and possibly your parents) have taught you that a degree holds more value than gut feeling, than being experienced. It´s hard also to see yourself as a fully grown human being who does not need to hold hands with doctors and with therapists – because holding hands feels safer.


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