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When You Do More, They Do Less

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed that when you do more for people, they do less for themselves.  This is a recurring theme in my practice with parents and their children, as well as couples with each other.  Sometimes we try so hard to help, fix, and rescue, that the person decides consciously or not to stop trying.  Imagine you’re riding a bicycle built for two and it seems like you’re doing all the pedaling.  That’s because the other person has their feet up and assumes you’re pedaling hard enough for both of you.  This type of relationship would be called codependent.  My definition of codependency is taking responsibility for someone else’s actions, thoughts or feelings.  Parents who take too much responsibility for their children can inadvertently convey the message that they don’t think the child is capable of handling life without their help.  I believe “enabling is disabling” and this lowers their self-confidence.  Couples may do the same thing by taking responsibility for their spouse’s emotions, finances, social connections, inappropriate behaviors, etc.  Sometimes we may accommodate their needs, make excuses for their behaviors, and allow our boundaries to be violated.  Sometimes the dependent partner never learned to accept responsibility and grew up with their parents accommodating their every need.  Maybe we’re afraid that the people we love will fail and we feel compelled to prevent this from happening.  The reality is that people learn more from failure than they do from success.  So how do you stop being the enabler?  Check out next week’s blog to find the answers to this common, but very destructive issue.

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