Relationships

Lopsided Loyalty: Enablement and Self-Sabotage

Two men having a serious conversation

There has been many struggles in your experience living in the US. However, you felt like you paid your dues by having worked the gigs and the dead-end jobs. You may have even learned the American higher education system as well as that thing called FAFSA. You have dealt with it. Currently, you are in a job you enjoy and what you want is right within your hand’s reach. But, yet, you are constantly being pulled away. You are being asked to solve someone else’s problems time and time again.

You enjoy being needed and helping out others. However, this is not what you thought that coming to America would be like. It feels like everyone wants you to help them get a position in your company, meet so and so, or have you invest in their passion project. But it’s not like you’ve hit the millions mark, just middle management.

Your goal is to obtain a higher status but you feel like you have all these hands on you trying to pull you down. You find that sometimes you aren’t able to concentrate at work because you are thinking about what someone else is going through. You have helped out this person so much. Yet, they continue to fall short of expectations and their promises to you. You know that you need to make a decision about what to do. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like you are turning your back on those you care about. You don’t want to walk away from your community.

Lopsided Loyalty

You can’t save the world alone! There is always going to be someone in your orbit who is going through a hard time. This does not mean that you need to financially back them, find them a job, or give them a place to live rent-free. While it is hard to say no to those you have a personal connection with, in the long run, it helps you and the other person.

By setting a boundary with your assistance to others, it not only gives you space to breathe and focus on your own goals. You, also, allow for the other to learn from their mistakes.

When you enable someone else this means that you are solving the problem for the other person in a way that does not include that other person to solve the problem for themselves. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. In your case, you are providing your loved one with the second chance. Even though, they may not realize that this is an opportunity that most don’t get in their situation. Meaning more likely than not, they will be right back where they started in a tough spot and looking to you to solve their problems.

The problem is that they can always go to you when they are in a tough spot. Unfortunately, you may not always be able to go to them. This is lopsided loyalty. Relationships are supposed to be reciprocal not where only one person takes and only one person gives.

Setting the Ground Rules

It may seem childish that you have set ground rules with others but it works. That’s why we start to do it when we are children. It lets your friend or loved one know that this is the framework in which you are able to give and keep a relationship with them.

By creating ground rules, you are able to breathe in your relationship and be able to focus on yourself. If you know that this is your framework, you can strive for those personal goals without having to worry that someone else’s emergency is going to get in your way.

This also allows you to be generous within reason. You can still be there for your family and friends just in a much healthier way.

Allowing Others to Grow

Even though you have set up your ground rules, it will not be perfect. Old habits die hard. If someone has been conditioned to lean on you during hard times, they most likely will want to lean on you again when tough times come back around.

This is their moment to grow and for you to support that person in their growth. If you do everything for someone, they stay stuck in the same unhealthy cycles that they were in before. They are never allowed to sit in their uncomfortableness and figure it out. And by the way, you are also staying within those unhealthy cycles too.

Allowing someone these moments of growth is not being mean or hurtful to someone else. While it is hard to watch someone figure it out, it’s necessary for their development.

And in this spirit, stick to your ground rules. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for them!

Staying Competitive

It’s not selfish to set up boundaries to fulfill your own wants and needs. There is no one living today that is completely selfless. I say this because at one point or another we have to take care of ourselves on our own.

If you have big dreams that you know that you can attain, then you are going to need to be able to take time to focus on yourself. Rising together as a family or a community has its importance. However, if the cost of it is happiness, will you be able to live with that?

In the same vein, reflect on if you are actually sabotaging yourself from achieving those goals that you say you want to have. It easy to blame others for why you aren’t in the place you want to be in life. It is much harder to admit to your part in keeping yourself stuck. and refusing to go after what you most desire. Reflect on your own feelings and behavior and see if there are these cycles of being part of creating your own barriers.

And By the Way!

My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!

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