In toxic situations there are
- the toxic ones
- the victims
- the enablers
Often times toxic people continue their destructive behaviors due to the enablers around them.
When a toxic person isn't held accountable for their actions those destructive actions never change.
Enablers are often times those closest to the toxic person such as family and close friends. They might believe if they don’t help, the outcome for everyone involved will be far worse than if they did speak up on the toxic person’s behavior. They may continuously excuse troubling behavior, or even assist in the destructive behavior with the toxic person.
Behaviors of Enablers:
Ignoring or tolerating problematic behavior
When the toxic person is displaying their toxic behavior enablers tend to ignore it or tolerate it. They will act as if they don’t see the behavior as problematic.
Ways to fix this: “Call it out” Communicate the behavior that is toxic and let them know how their behavior affects those around them.
- Providing financial assistance
Enablers will continuously give into their financial needs (usually without being paid back), whether that be paying the toxic person’s bills, or giving them money for drugs, alcohol, gambling, or any other addiction.
Ways to fix this: Cut off any financial assistance and resist the temptation of giving into their pleads.
Covering for them or making excuses
Examples include excusing their bad behavior or covering up their bad behavior, lying for them, excusing them from their responsibilities.
Ways to fix this: Hold them accountable for their actions and refuse to lie and cover for their negative behavior.
Denying the problem
Enablers will see the problem and how much it is escalating yet will deny the problem. When enablers are a family member or a parent for instance sometime they will deny the problem out of guilt. They may feel like a failure as a parent and blame themselves for how the toxic person is behaving. Therefore they will enable the negative behavior by denying its existence.
Way to fix this: Acknowledge the behavior. Address it, say exactly what it is without excusing or denying its existence.
Not following through on consequences
When enabling toxic behavior enablers may state a consequence for the negative behavior… yet now follow through with it! When creating a boundary, creating you must stick to it or else the boundary is meaningless.
Way to fix this: Be consistent. Mean what you say (and say what you mean) to the toxic person. If you tell them “if (insert awful behavior here) continues I will have to remove you from my life”.
When they do the behavior after that statement, it’s time to remove them so they can see you are serious about the consequences of their actions.
Stopping enabling can be hard, especially if the toxic person is
- a child of yours
- significant other
- family member
Yet enabling them will only further worsen and not help their toxic behaviors.
In order to remove yourself from their toxic cycle you must refuse to enable them.