If you have tried unsuccessfully on your own to deal with either denial or enabling (or both),
or have tried to help someone else, and feel in need of assistance, there is help here to help you find
long-term resolution for your problems - and assist you in your Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Healing.
Klaas Tuinman MA
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia, Canada, 2000-2017
|Healing & Empowerment: Mentoring,
Seminars, Workshops & Retreats
|When life hurts - there is immediate
help for long term hope
Why do people keep on enabling? In part, it is due it seems, to those admirable human
qualities of caring, and hoping, and wanting so much for that person to snap out of it,
and heal and recover. So they see what they're doing as attempts at helping. But they're
over their heads, without fully realizing it. Only when the problem has reached a critical
stage (has not gone away, but gotten worse), do they think that they should do
something. By then, however, denial has already set in and it will be much harder to help
Often, they act this way, because they do not know much about such behaviours: or
reject (deny) what they do know; they don't want to deal with it, and they “play along”,
and thus enabling the person to continue with it. Families' (partners') non-acceptance
(denial) of the problem does not help the people with behavioural problems. Families
may think they are helping them by protecting them. However, they soon realize that
making excuses won't help.
Making excuses, rationalizing and trying to keep the problem hidden only lead to more
trouble. The family (or partner) may attribute the behaviour to a number of things: a bad
childhood, marital problems, or other everyday problems that may happen to everybody,
but that that particular person just can't cope with it.
Or . . . they too, may re-label it as an illness or disorder, and thus remove responsibility
(and choice of other options) for the behaviour from that individual.
It is NOT an illness or disorder: it is a CHOICE!
This in turn prevents him/her from receiving the proper help (and responses),
but this also gives support to the denial system. If you are allowing that behaviour to
continue you are an Enabler.
Not only that, you become an accomplice in the con-game. Denial and Enabling in most
cases also result in Codependence.
Addiction counsellors, and often "sponsors" to alcohol "addicts", are often caught in
being "enablers", too. They know that they are doing so - but they continue, because at
the same time they are talking to that person, about things they could give a try at:
pointing out underlying issues that may have caused this and are perpetuating it. They
do this in the hope of getting their client/sponsee to see the light and take that first step
back into the light. It works; but not with everyone. I have been "caught" in that
situation many times: because I refuse to give up on people. There is always hope, and
time . . . we never know when the seeds we plant may take root.
By doing these things, they are protecting the addict/perpetrator from the consequences
of their actions. S/he never has to feel the real pain caused by his/her drinking.
These well-meaning, but people rush in to put "pillows" under him/her so s/he doesn't
hurt her/himself in the fall. Consequently, the addict/perpetrator never finds out how it
feels to fall. Together, they become Codependents.
Thus, by the time the disease has gotten to the crisis point, the "addict" has developed a
support system of family and friends. These people that are close to the person who is
developing an unacceptable behaviour pattern, become adept at overlooking or avoiding
It is a delusion - with everyone pretending it doesn't exist!
Although the dysfunctional behaviour (substance abuse, or other) has placed them in a
helpless and dependent position, the addict/perpetrator can continue to believe s/he is
still independent because s/he has been rescued from his/her troubles by her/his
well-meaning family, friends, co-workers, employers and sometimes clergymen and
The roles these enablers play to "help" the addict/perpetrator can be just as obsessive
and harmful as the alcoholic's drinking. With these enabling devices in place, the
addict/perpetrator is free to continue in the progression of his/her dysfunction, with
her/his denial intact, until s/he perhaps reaches the point of hitting bottom, at which
point even the most dedicated addict/dysfunctional perpetrator must finally admit there
is a problem. But there is no way for them to ever hit bottom when it's always covered
Enabling hinders someone from admitting and changing a self-harmful behaviour like an
addiction, self-neglect, or a disabled true-Self, by not confronting them respectfully.
The line between short-term compassion and long-term enabling can be hard to see.
Has anyone ever impeded your growth by withholding some important feedback about
you? Have you been ever been enabled and kept from growing and healing? Are you an
|ENABLING: facilitating the status quo for Addicts.
Helping them avoid Ownership and Responsibility
|A Dawn Cove Abbey Information Resource, and support
for Adult Children of Alcoholic/Dysfunctional Families
|Dawn Cove Abbey
Providing Roadside Assistance for your Journey through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From, "One! The Journey hOMe", the eBook by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-1
Questions and comments welcomed.
Here's how/where the other people help to keep denial going . . .
Enabling (over-looking; excusing; rescuing): enablers
These are the other participants in the "Let's pretend" - their part is the
"I'm pretending he/she isn't. . . " one. Enabling is making excuses: In
reality, it is a case where the others accept the lying, and play along as if
it wasn't so: a game of pretend; - a very sick game - actually, it's their
own form of denial. This “enables” (makes it possible for) the one with
the problem to “get away with it”. It used to be called “sweeping things
under the rug or carpet”. It is also known as "cover-up".
Because they love the addict/dysfunctional person (in the case of
alcoholism, the some-time affable, clever and witty alcoholic), they act to
protect them by covering for them: doing the work that they don't get
done, paying the bills that they don't pay, rescuing them from their
scrapes with the law and other incidents, and generally taking up the
responsibilities they have abandoned.
The others cover for them by making excuses: For example, in
alcoholism, "S/he can't come in to work today, s/he's got a, err, virus . .
. We've got to get him/her out of jail, s/he'll lose his job! Then what will
we do . . . It was my fault, officer, I said some things I should not have
said . . .”
Please note: enabling is not only just connected to alcoholism: it can
apply to any inconsiderate, anti-social, dysfunctional activity, habit, etc.
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