My topic of choice today is a touchy subject for me and many others. ENABLING.LABELS means a few different things for me. The word “enable” has a fairly positive context in the typical use of the word. We can enable each other to grow through teaching right from wrong when young; we can enable those of use with physical disabilities to live a more comfortable and active life with wheelchairs and crutches. But there is another side of enabling that maybe isn’t as positive. In the mental health realm, it can mean allowing someone with addiction or mental health issues to stay put in the patient role by unknowingly enabling them to continue down an already slippery slope.
That’s where “labels” comes in.
If family and friends are ENABLING.LABELS it makes it hard for someone to advance out of their patient role. For myself personally, I often manipulated my way to staying dependent on my parents because I knew it was more comfortable for me to feel better. As soon as I lived alone (thanks to huge help from my therapist) I found that I actually did have the capacity to be less codependent with my mom and dad. I didn’t feel like just a patient anymore.
If someone is in trouble with mental illness (or physical illness for that matter) the majority of the time their support systems (family, friends, loved ones) just want to help them feel better. We are coddled in some cases (as was my case) and while that does feel comforting, it makes it difficult for me to step out of my patient role.
What can you do besides “enabling?”
If you have a loved one who needs help, by all means, continue to be there and support them. But remember: in some cases it can be kinder to allow them to exit that stifling comfort zone where they are always being rescued with habits fed — on their own. Give the gift of independence and freedom from the shackles of illness.
We are all stronger then we think.
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
— Audrey Hepburn