How to Quit Unhealthy Behavioral Patterns in a Relationship

While many of us could identify with being a Victim last week (if not all the time, then at least maybe once or twice!), it can be harder to see yourself as an Enabler.

The Enabler is a classic Rescuer, especially in a close relationship or marriage. According to one of my favorite books, and this month's book club book, The Power of TED, "Rescuers look for Victims to save and often are quick to jump in and save the day, even when others are responsible. By fixing and saving others, a Rescuer believes others will appreciate and value them for their good deeds. Rescuers feel an obligation and urgency to change or fix, in their view, what is not going well. They often take on more work or duties, even when others are responsible or could do it themselves. They often attract others who seem incapable of helping themselves. They feel there is always someone in a crisis needing their help. Similar to Victims, they focus on what isn’t working so they always have a job to do or something to fix."

Shifting from an Enabler to a Coach

Being an Enabler can be a challenging mindset to shift from, especially if you think you are being a natural-born caretaker or a supportive spouse. The good news is that you do not need to let completely go of these supportive qualities, but rather shift them into a different place and move into the role of a Coach. While I do not mean that you should go out and become a Professional Life Coach (you could if you wanted to and I highly recommend Raleigh Coaching Academy for that!), you should use your natural talent for fixing situations and transform that into empowering others using curiosity and inquiry. The Coach can help co-create the next step for someone to self-realize what they need to do to rescue themselves.

Here are TED's qualities of a great Coach:

  • Sees that others are resourceful, creative, whole and complete.

  • Meets others where they are, while paradoxically nudging them to reach for their highest potential.

  • Is fully present and attentive.

  • Uses authentic curiosity to ask powerful questions.

  • Is open to endless possibilities and the mystery of the unfolding process.

  • Listens for what is being said as well as what is not being said.

  • Embraces not knowing or needing to have the right answer.

  • Is at ease in conversations and doesn’t work hard, nor strives to be right or look good.

  • Partners with others to co-create forward action and continuous learning.

Be sure to check out this article on the Enabler that appeared in the Huffington Post.