Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are You Enabling Your Loved Ones?

An enabler is one that enables another to achieve an end; especially: one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.                                                                             
Before you move on to your next post feeling some peculiar air of superiority, please note that while the definition cites substance abuse as a self-destructive behavior, it doesn’t disqualify the many of you (yes, YOU!) that enable friends and family members financially, as well!  It’s one thing to assist someone who may find themselves in a bind from time to time, but it’s another to allow people to become another line item on your own struggling budget. 

Not only is helping them, actually hurting them, but it may be hurting you, as well.

Singer & actor turned author, Tyrese, put it best while on tour to promote his new book, How To Get Out of Your Own Way.  His words echo in my mind still daily: “Sometimes to help someone, you have to stop helping them.”

So simple, yet so remarkably powerful.  And yet, I know how it goes.  We feel obligated to help family and friends who are in a financial bind.  After all, isn’t it the noble thing to do? It might be if it weren’t for the fact that nobility can often create an inability in a person to figure “it” out on their own.  Financially speaking, “it” can be a number of circumstances from how to earn their own income and manage their own money wisely to how to decipher between their own wants and needs, pay their own bills on time and essentially how to hustle.

Related Post: How To Hustle While You Work

So, how can you tell if you are enabling someone in your life? Answer “Yes” or “No” to the following 12 questions:
Do you:
1.      Constantly find yourself having to bail out grown and able-bodied adults?
       (If you’re a parent and your “baby” is above college-age, yes, they count as an adult.)

2.      Tell the few people who actually offer to pay you back not to worry about it?

3.      Financially support a person whose neediness is purely derived out of their own laziness?

4.      Find yourself afraid for this person, or convinced that he/she “cannot handle” a basic life   situation without “falling apart”?

5.      Excuse this person’s behavior as being a result of “the economy, stress, misunderstanding, or   difficulty coping,” even when the behavior hurts or inconveniences you?

6.      Feel like you have a unique and special relationship with this person, unlike anyone else they may know?

7.      Feel protective of this person – even though he/she is an adult and is capable of taking care of  his/her life?

8.      Wish others in this person’s life would change their behavior or attitudes to make things easier for this person?

9.      Feel reluctant to refer an individual to a source of help or assistance, uncertain if another person can understand or appreciate this person’s situation the way you do?

10.  Ever feel manipulated by this person but ignore your feelings?

11.  Make yourself more available to another person, at the expense of your own financial obligations, energy, or time?

12.  Hear from others that you are “too close” to this person or their situation?

If you have said “Yes” in your head, committed a shy nod, bitten your lower lip or rested your chin in the palm of your head and leaned forward, then more than likely you, my friend, are an enabler.

So without further a due, here’s what you can do to stop enabling your loved ones:

#1 – Stop Enabling & Start Empowering  

There’s an old, yet continuously relevant Chinise proverb  which says if you Give a man a fish you’ll  feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime.

Don’t take away a person’s ability to hustle.  The fact of the matter is, you won’t always be around to go fishing for them.  If you keep enabling them, then they’ll starve should anything ever happen to you. Is that really what you want?

Remember, “Real need brings real motivation." People will not learn to be responsible as long as they KNOW they’ll always have you as a backup plan.

#2 – Stop Helping People Who Won’t Help Themselves

Instead of constantly reaching in your wallet, refer those in need to community resources and services.  If they won't take any help, but yours, then evidently they don't really want help.

What does your constant helping say other than, “I support your self-destructive and negative behavior. So much so, I’m going to give you more money so you can keep it going.”

Remember actions speak louder than words.  You can give the inspirational “get your life together” speech all day and/or you can get angry and swear before the Almighty that this “is the last time I’ll give you a dime!” until the cows come home, but what you DO is always speaking so much louder than what you SAY.

#3 – Take YOU Out of THEIR Problems 

This is not about you being an awesome person;  This is not about you doing a “good deed” so you can make it to those pearly gates.  This is about them figuring life out for themselves! 

If nothing else, remember that the money you continue to dole out to irresponsible friends and family members could be used to perhaps get YOU out of debt, buy YOUR first home or save for YOUR retirement.  There’s nothing selfish about considering YOU every once in awhile!  After all, the folks you are enabling definitely don’t care about YOU or your future and believe me, when your money runs out and you have nothing else to give, they WILL move on to the next one!

Until Next Time,

Seek Wisdom, Find Wealth & Be Blessed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I've been a guilty victim of this for far too long...

Thanks for sharing! This really opened my eyes to why I'm not as financially free as I could be...