Friday, April 3, 2015
A WORD ABOUT ENABLING
Michele Happe MA
April 3, 2015
Most of us have someone in our life who is suffering from either addiction, untreated mental illness, or other personality issues. It is human nature to want to help the afflicted especially if they are loved ones. Often we make the mistake of helping the problem rather than helping the solution. It is very important to remember that if you support to the problem, you are actually contributing to it. The tough love folks say walk away or detach which is at times a very apt solution....but not always.
Detachment is a very difficult thing to do with those we love. We hear about detach with love, but how to do that? My Buddhism informs me about how to do this. First we have to look at all of our attachments and understand that they are one of the primary causes of suffering. We make efforts to let loose of our tendency to cling. Many of us dealing with impaired family members enable over and over until we get jaded and hateful or indifferent to the other. This is not detachment with love. We must let our loved ones suffer the consequences of their own actions. Our task is to develop compassion, deep compassion toward these loved ones who are suffering. It is a painful process. It is so much easier to close our hearts off to them. After all, we learn in Buddhism that suffering is part of the deal..it is a part of life that is unavoidable.
Here is what I do. I think of myself as a container for the others suffering. I feel the pain and sadness of their affliction. I process my judgement and anger and transform it into compassion. The other is not just deciding to be impaired. I look at it as their Karma. It is their path to figure out. I offer help for movement toward solution and kindly refuse to bail them out or enable their suffering. If someone with mental illness refuses treatment options I just see them as not ready yet to recover and love them through their process. I see this all the time in my coaching practice. I try to be, and come from where my client is without pushing. I offer possible solutions and back of and let them figure out how to solve the problem and if they want to solve the problem. It can take months or years for a person to be willing to give up overeating. I sit with them and assist them with other issues that they are willing to work on.
It is much the same with family members. We all have different paths and it is not our business to decide the shape or form that a loved ones path should take. I watched my sister kill herself with food and unhealthy life style which included over work and lots of stress. She was often mad at me and refused to have a relationship with me and I honored that, but I still held her in my heart with love. I was so happy that we were finally able to reconnect around my moms issues. She even said she was interested in my food plan, but I did not push. Three weeks later she was dead.
Sometimes we have to detach unto death if that is the other persons path. It is so sad, but just remember the sadness is full of love and compassion..
Until next time,