[UPDATED JUNE 5, 2016]
I believe enabling is a real phenomena. People "enable" behaviour in an attempt to mitigate various types of violence in the world. This, in my opinion, is common knowledge; most people can point to somebody who has enabled somebody else's behaviour.
However, over the last year I've seen the term appear more and more often in ways that make me uncomfortable with using it; I've seen it as a means to blame people and bypass empathy.
I'm still unable to fully articulate this, but I'll try.
Our well-being is a function of the quality of our relationships. If one person enables another's negative behaviour, this is a relational act. An admission of enabling, saying "I enabled your bad behaviour," only goes one way. If used as an act of blame, it is misplaced because it doesn't take the whole relationship into account.
My concern is when somebody admits to enabling as an underhanded attack. When a person admits that they enabled something, that's fine. But it can also be read as "You were the problem. I just enabled that problem. But you, in the end, were the problem. I only enabled because...." In this sort of dynamic, the admission of "I enabled you" is an underhanded "You are the problem." It's a bit of violent communication in disguise.
I think this is faulty because enabling, like codependency, is entirely relationship-based. I don't think blame should come into play when empathy is the goal. What matters is a rebalancing of the relationship so that both people can experience their own agency within the bounds of that relationship. Any semi-psychological conclusion in a relationship should lead to empathy; admitting to enabling behaviour, if it does not lead to empathy, is problematic.
Enabling happens. We all do it. But empathy in relationships always, always needs to trump any sort of underhanded blame.
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