When addressing enabling behaviours in the family setting, it’s vital to understand their often subtle and complex nature. Enabling might appear as gestures of love or concern, but in reality, they may inadvertently support a loved one’s addiction. Two such lesser-known aspects include ‘avoidance of conflict’ and ‘taking over responsibilities’.
Firstly, avoidance of conflict is an enabling behaviour that often goes unnoticed. It might seem counterintuitive – after all, isn’t it better to avoid conflict? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t that simple. When you habitually dodge confronting your loved one about their addictive behaviours, you’re indirectly endorsing these habits. You may fear that addressing the issue will lead to arguments, hostility, or even estrangement. However, it’s important to remember that open and honest communication is essential. Sweeping the issue under the rug doesn’t make it disappear; instead, it festers and grows in silence.
The second enabling behaviour is taking over responsibilities that should be your loved one’s. This could involve covering for them at work, making excuses for their absence in social gatherings, or even taking charge of their financial obligations. You might justify these actions, thinking you’re protecting them from negative consequences. However, by stepping in and taking control, you’re shielding them from the realities of their addiction, thus preventing them from recognizing the need for change.
Even though both behaviours come from a place of concern, they contribute to sustaining the cycle of addiction. Understanding this is crucial. But it doesn’t end there. It’s equally essential to stop enabling and start endorsing healthier behaviours. This is where professional help comes into the picture.
The feelings of guilt, shame, and mistrust often associated with addiction can deter you and your loved one from seeking help. However, it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and understand that they’re a common part of the process. Professional counsellors and therapists are trained to handle these complex emotions and can guide you towards healthier coping mechanisms.
Engaging in professional therapy can equip you with the tools to replace enabling behaviours with supportive ones. It can help you establish boundaries, improve communication, and promote personal responsibility, all while fostering a nurturing environment for your loved one’s recovery journey.