Friday, November 1, 2013

Enabling: A Psychological Pyramid Scheme

In the book, How To Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, he talks about the fact that
a basic human need is the need to feel needed or important. However, sometimes this need gets out of hand and folks find themselves constantly doing things for and helping people who mis-use the person helping them, or even worse discount them entirely; or they are in a constant state of crisis because of bad planning on their part and constantly need assistance. In both cases, the person providing the help becomes an 'Enabler' in the negative sense of the word.

According to the book, The Selfish Brain, by Robert DuPont, an enabler, in the negative sense, is somebody who seems to be providing assistance when in fact they are serving to further complicate a bad situation. Enabling allows folks to stop fixing their own issues by focusing their attention on those of other people. The curious factor is, that Enablers often reject dealing with people who are not in need or crisis. Enabling is often a factor created by low self-esteem. Folks get an ego boost from helping others.

In the Black community and dating, we see this play out time and time again. Chris Rock used to have a routine about how women have two kinds of male friends: [paraphrased] the one who they are [dating] and the one they should be [dating]. The one they date uses them, abuses them and casts them aside; and are often ready to take them back. The one they should date, is often the caring, understanding ear. He gets to hear you say things like "all men are dogs/ there are no good men out there..." or "Why do I always attract such losers?"

Ironically, when and if these ladies find a good man, or start dating the man they should have been dating all along, they tend to treat him badly. The reasons usually come down to one of three things:

1) Low Self-esteem- Groucho Marx used to have a joke, "I would never join a club that would have me as a member." Translation, "If he's such a good guy, what's he doing with me?"
2) Lack of Accountability- They decide that they can't be good or decent to the next man because of what happened with the last guy. Instead of accepting the fact that they made a mistake, they decide that all men have to be as bad as the last guy.
3) All Of The Above, A.k.a., The Kiki Wyatt syndrome.

Some folks are helpful because they are good people. However, the nicest and most giving of folks have limits and start to see folks in constant crisis for the kinds of people they are. Other folks like to surround themselves with folks in worse circumstance because it makes their situation look better in comparison and gives them a [false] sense of superiority.

Enabling is a giant pyramid scheme of sorts. Enablers enable folks, who in turn become enablers, who in turn become enablers and so forth. When you're on a date and the story of their loser ex comes up; the ex who they still help out from time to time...  the woman with 2+ babies daddies, who are on to their new families or in and out of jail all of the time... remember the three "R"s: Reflect, Recognize andRUN, or you will find yourself sucked into the vortex and will eventually have the big "E" tattooed on your soul.

Enjoy the weekend...

NOTE: Some of you ladies reading this are saying to yourselves, "Men do the same thing." Some men probably do, but being a heterosexual male, allow me to write this from my perspective.

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