Remove the Enablers
One of the most authentic ways to nurture a relationship is to be honest, even when it’s difficult. I was watching
a YouTube short recently by Justin Paperny of White Collar Advice. Justin said, “Get the enablers out of your life.
Get people in your life who only tell you the truth.” Up until his video, I’d considered some of my past friends’
bad influences, but never considered that they may be enablers. Justin’s comments were enlightening.
In my career, I frequently consulted with adult children concerned about the well-being of their aging parents.
Navigating a complex system of care was overwhelming. Even with my help in identifying the best path to take,
the thought of talking with their mom or dad about it was anxiety-inducing. There’s a myriad of ways to
approach those conversations and it’s based on numerous variables such as circumstances, urgency, risk,
cognitive capacity, mental health, and family dynamics. However, the one constant was the importance of being
honest. They needed to have difficult, yet necessary, conversations out of love and concern.
Loving someone means that, sometimes, we have to say something they don’t want to hear. Maybe they aren’t
seeing life as it is but how they want it to be. What they need are friends and family who will be honest. Difficult
conversations can be extremely uncomfortable, yet they can help someone avoid a bad situation. In all my years
sharing my knowledge and experience, I failed to acknowledge that much like their mom or dad, sometimes I
needed the same thing.
I overlooked the value of surrounding myself with people who were willing to tell me the painful truth or by my
voice of reason. I had a few friends who weren’t afraid to say, “Melinda, Have you thought this through? I’m
concerned that what you want in the moment is hindering you from seeing clearly.” When making a decision I
knew they wouldn’t support, I avoided seeking their input. I liked the fact that most of my social circle went
along with me and told me what I wanted to hear. They didn’t challenge me, and I appreciated that. My business
and personal life were challenging enough. It was easier to be with people who weren’t questioning my
decisions or doubting my judgment.
At the time, I thought their lack of objection meant they supported my decision. It’s what I wanted to believe;
however, it isn’t what I needed. We all need people to be a voice of reason when we’re about to make bad
decisions. I need them to hold me accountable because even when the truth hurts, I need to hear it. In fact, I
want to hear it.
After years of honest self-reflection, I acknowledge more of my limitations. Although I’m independent and
strong-willed, I need my support system to be filled with people who aren’t afraid to tell me the truth. And I
need to be willing to receive it. I, too, need to be the friend who doesn’t avoid difficult conversations. I wasn’t
always that friend either and I failed to provide what some of them needed.
One of the positive things that resulted from my arrest was that many people I considered friends disappeared.
I’m no longer mad about it, I’m grateful. It gave me the perfect opportunity to rebuild my tribe and develop
“Enabling is a significant part of a codependent relationship. It involves supporting the unhealthy behaviors of
someone through action or inaction. Codependency usually happens as a result of unhealthy boundaries.” –
Nedra Glover Tawwab