Empowering Self & Others through Honest Enabling

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Enabling has multiple meanings. Enabling can be a positive experience for oneself and someone else, or it can be a destructive act towards self or others. Enabling can be used in a pro-active position or a reactive position. Dependent on my motive and my level of awareness, enabling can be used in either direction and therefore, it can create outcomes that are helpful and supportive or destructive and self-serving.

The Difference between Honest & Dishonest Enabling

Enabling can be a dis-empowering or an empowering experience for both you and the other person, dependent on your focus. If your focus is authentically on the other person, and you wish to empower them through making choices that will primarily benefit them, you will empower them through care-giving. If your focus is being motivated by self-serving agendas, where you focus primarily on what you want, and on what you fear, you will disempower others and supply yourself with your own self-promoting issues.

The choice to enable (disempower) is a decision we all are responsible for within our relationships. If we are not conscious we can inadvertently choose an enabling position that harms another person and ourselves. If we are unconscious we can choose to go into denial and give ourselves permission to justify and rationalize just about anything we want. This behavior is considered enabling (disempowering) because we allow ourselves to lie and deceive ourselves and others because we want something.

Examples of Honest Enabling

The choice to enable (empower) is a decision we make when we choose to stay conscious. When we stay aware and awake, we make choices that support ourselves and others.

Here are some examples of honest, empowering enabling strategies:

  • I might choose not to bring our child his school lunch because I don’t want to enable him to continue to “forget” it like he has the past 3 times. My actions teach and empower him to take care of himself.
  • I make choices that enable (empower) myself by getting up when my alarm rings even though I feel tired because I chose to stay out late the evening before.
  • When my child feels unable to cope with difficult homework, I could react by blaming the teacher. This would enable (disempowering) my child’s “I can’t” attitude. Instead, I might express to my child my utmost confidence in their ability to do hard things, thereby enabling (empowering) them to think more accurately and positively about their self-conception. In this example, I am not worried about the outcome of the assignment nearly as much as my child understanding that they are valued, valuable, capable, and that they can learn and overcome.

Enabling (disempowering) takes away the opportunity to share emotionally how you feel and how you have been affected with others and yourself.

Enabling (empowering) grants and facilitates the opportunity to share emotionally how you feel and how you have been affected with others and yourself.

In addition to the information above about enabling, visit www.JodiHildebrandt.com to learn more.

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The Author

About the author: I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Utah. My work in addiction treatment has taught me that everybody can overcome addiction, destructive habits, and the shame that drives those things. The most important factors for healing are honesty, responsibility, and humility. When we learn how to provide these things for ourselves and for others, we become powerful and full of joy.

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