Enabling Behaviors occur in painful but predictable cycles such as the Punishment/Forgiveness Cycle outlined below. This cycle is a variation on the Drama Triangle described elsewhere on this site. The "Punisher/Forgiver" (usually the Codependent) is the Persecutor and/or Rescuer. The "Punished/Forgiven" (Usually the problem person) is the Victim.
This stage is when the problem is inactive and things seem to be going well.
In this stage, because the external focus is lost, boredom sets in as a precursor to the surfacing pain - to keep an external focus, the person begins to fantasize ways to alleviate the discomfort of boredom. They begin to "watch movies" in their mind's eye of ways to feel better... such as engaging in the addictive/codependent behavior.
The fantasy becomes an obsession because "watching the movie" strengthens the feelings that go with the addictive behavior, triggering a compulsion to engage in that behavior. The compulsion to act-out is resisted until...
The compulsion grows so strong it is impossible for the person to resist. So, they act-out the movie they have been watching in their mind's eye. They continue to act-out until they get caught or something bad happens.
Once "caught", the problem person enters into the punishment stage where the Punisher is upset over yet another transgression or broken promise to stop...there is a big fight...more pain -- (abandonment, shame, and contempt.)
In this stage the Punished person gets into their best behavior and works their way back into the good graces of the Punisher. Once forgiveness is achieved then everything is fine again -- until boredom sets in!
Key Point for Couples: Each of us has our own internal Punisher -- it's the part of us often referred to as our conscience...
Key Point for Individuals: If no one is available to play the Punisher Role we have to play both roles ourselves -- punishing and forgiving ourselves.
Regardless of whether anyone plays the game with us we will continue around this cycle until we hit bottom and decide to get help. When this is the case, the pattern is called the Addiction Cycle.
The Punisher plays a game of "Now I've Got You, You SOB" then later, as the Forgiver, plays a game of "I'm Only Trying to Help You". The Punished plays a complementary game of "Kick Me" and "Why Does This Always Happen to Me".
When it becomes obvious that the Punisher has a problem with controlling, fixing, and other Codependent behaviors the roles and games can be reversed. This cycle is the perfect arena for enabling behaviors... Many times it's the Codependent who gets bored & sets another cycle in motion.
Unless we are addicted to enabling behavior (see information below the video), then all we need are some "how to" guidelines for ending enabling. This video provides many useful guidelines for how to stop enabling:
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