Reduce and remove emotional threats. Deal with specific behaviors and what could replace them that will help you feel more engaged and positively responsive.
6. You get caught in toxic patterns of interaction.
It’s so important that you remain vigilant about stopping your own enabling behaviors. What are those? Doing what someone else wants us to do to keep them happy, keep the peace, or join them in pretending there is no problem, which is commonly called “denial.” It means making or accepting excuses for poor behavior; or, accepting that it is someone else’s fault they behave the way they do.
Enablers have poor boundaries, trust too easily, have a poor sense of their own value, and, more importantly, they seek validation of themselves through actions. They think the dysfunctional person will like them better if they join them in their denial!
That’s where “difficult” turns dangerous. If you don’t do something, you are part of the problem.
Potential for violence sounds harsh, but that’s what it is. Say the wrong word. Look at them sideways. Question their behavior. Suggest they may have a fault. Be late with their dinner. Talk back to them. Demand equality. All of these can unleash the potential for violence that pours out in torrents of accusations, demeaning comments, withholding affection, or physical or sexual abuse.
Step up and be part of the solution early, before things escalate. Remember, sometimes it is only possible to love difficult and dangerous folks from a safe distance … and that is wise.
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
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