Leaders build teams utilizing people’s strengths and encouraging every individual to be uniquely themself. There is a difference between supporting someone and enabling someone. Supporting others and recognizing the uniqueness in others is important! But, enabling others is exhausting and unhealthy.
Let’s talk a little about enabling. Enabling others is a lot like carrying their baggage when they are very capable of carrying it themselves and we already have our own baggage to carry.
It is important that we put kindness into the world and show compassion towards others. Let me be clear – I am not referring to holding space for others or showing compassion. I am talking about us taking on others’ baggage when it is not ours to carry.
I am talking about continuously cleaning up messes for someone, protecting them from the consequences of actions, making excuses for them, and feeling like we have to enter into every discussion with them and about them. We can accommodate so much for someone that we lose ourselves.
When we do this – the weight is great and will eventually take its toll. We are usually left with all the “yuck” that comes with it? The resentment, the anger, and the exhaustion…
Top Reasons We Need to Stop
One – people want to solve their own problems and be appreciated for who they are.
Allow people the space to be themselves, to learn and to grow. When we have a problem, do we want others to solve it for us or to simply listen and show support?
Two – it is not our narrative.
Allow others to speak for themselves. It is not our job to speak for someone, unless we are their guardian. In that case, help them learn how to self advocate. This article is written for adults and about adults. When others come to us about someone, we should always say, “it isn’t my place to speak for (person), you should talk to them directly”. That is the best way we truly support someone. Regardless how much we think we are helping, don’t talk about anyone when they aren’t around and definitely don’t think it is helpful! Expect adults to deal directly with each other.
Three – we become known by the weight we carry.
Those around us see the toll of the weight, but they don’t see the baggage. They see the struggles, us being resentful, maybe even wanting to be thanked or appreciated. They see us tired and cranky. We become known by the weight of someone else’s baggage and not by who we are.
Four – usually we aren’t even asked, we just do it.
It is one thing to help, to hold for a bit when we see someone struggling. But we should always ask before we pick up someone’s bags. They may not like it or need it. Don’t place value on helping someone, unless you know for sure that person wants your help.
Five – we aren’t allowing others to grow and learn.
People need to figure out life, to deal with consequences. We can support and hold space, but never shield someone from becoming their best selves because we send the message that they aren’t capable.
We’ve all carried someone’s baggage at some point. Put down the baggage. Let them go through their own bags and deal with it how they need to deal with it.
Carrying others’ baggage allows us to hide from our own baggage and all the lessons and growth that await us. Hum, maybe that is why we are so quick to carry other’s baggage… because we don’t want to deal with our own.
Again, build teams utilizing everyone’s strengths and encouraging every individual to be uniquely their best self. Remember, enabling others is not helpful and it is exhausting and unhealthy.