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Put an End to Enabling

It is common for partners of those struggling with their emotions, to find themselves enabling by taking responsibility for solving their problems.

Some who are excessively responsible feel worthless and deserving only of pain and punishment. They strive for others approval to combat inescapable inferiority. They are wrought with guilt for others struggles and have critical thoughts about themselves when they fail to prevent others problems. This self-condemnation serves to confirm their existence as a worthless individual, but they prefer this to the pain of being judged.

Parents are responsible for the well being of their children. If they don’t, it’s called neglect. However adults are responsibility for themselves. Yet, many people treat other adults like children and seek to control others behavior and decisions.

An insecure husband may seek to control his wife with questions as to her whereabouts, or he may use guilt to keep her from seeing her friends and relatives.  “If you loved me, you wouldn’t be going over there all the time.”  In the end, she feels suffocated and breaks up with him. His prophecies of abandonment have been fulfilled.

Insecure people have no basis for predicting successful outcomes, they can only predict disaster in the future.  They do not focus on solving problems in the present. They are obsessed with bad things that haven’t even happened. They act to prevent, plan, and control potential, future pain.

Insecure people cannot see what is wrong with preventing disaster. They persist in seeking control, despite a lifetime of failing to prevent the next disappointment. They do not see that their self-prophesied disasters are pessimism expectations fueled by their feelings of inadequacy to cope with life. They fail to understand that they cannot prevent the future by overreacting in the present. They do not know how to solve problems as they arise and deal with them as best they can in the present.  That takes confidence.

All of this occurs below the level of conscious awareness. Insecure people need to become conscious of these vulnerabilities so they can change them.

Insecure people spend lots of time trying to make others happy or preventing their unhappiness. Instead they need to allow others to be accountable for themselves and take ownership over their own happiness. This requires one to chose to stop doing what is unnecessary and do something constructive by living on their own terms in the present. This may involve stopping what they “should” do and making a choice on their own behalf.

The reality is, we do not know how to solve others problems, we have our hands full with our own. Some make up solutions that ought to work but do not because we do not really know what us best. Still, we pass laws with the good intention to make things better only to find that we have made them worse.

Our self-imposed task of changing them for their own good turns out to be a fictitious one. It is their responsibility to work through struggles and come to terms with their condition. To stop enabling and to get our partner to address their worry, we need to communicate with them.

If our partner refuses to seek out help or work towards coping with their condition, address these concerns with them. Keep in mind that by trusting our partner to cope, we are helping them to face their issues independently.

Put an End to Enabling

Aaron Karmin

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APA Reference
Karmin, A. (2017). Put an End to Enabling. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 17 Oct 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Oct 2017
Published on All rights reserved.