Yesterday I got home after two weeks of back-to-back trips to San Diego, CA, and New York, NY.
I’m still processing my experiences…but in the meantime, here’s an interesting scenario that popped up on one of the plane rides back home.
I overheard a young woman talking to her mother on her cell phone. Her mother was apparently upset that the daughter didn’t text her back right away.
In a placating voice, the woman said: “I couldn’t text you back, Mom, I was in the air for 4 hours. I called you the second we landed. Why are you so mad?”
She repeated herself, basically saying the same thing over and over again: “I’m telling you, I couldn’t text you, Mom! My phone doesn’t work when we’re flying the air. Why are you yelling at me? You’re acting like a 5-year-old right now.”
I listened in, feeling both fascinated and a little horrified. I wanted to shake this girl and say, “You know, you can have some boundaries and hang up.”
She was on the verge of hanging up three times…and each time, her mom apparently said something to keep the conversation going.
Finally, after about 15 minutes of this, I was getting irritated. Did this woman not know she was ENABLING her mother to talk to her poorly?
Enabling is one of the most toxic behaviors humans can engage in. It’s another word for “allowing,” “permitting,” or “tolerating” that which is unacceptable.
There are no victims in life. There are only chronic enablers.
People who enable bad behavior are JUST AS BAD as the people who are engaging in the bad behavior.
Sometimes people get tripped up, thinking the answer is simply to “forgive” the bad behavior. But there’s a huge difference between healthy forgiveness and an unhealthy allowing of bad behaviors to continue.
The following sentence should blast through any confusion about this:
“If someone _______s you everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
Fill in the blank with the verb of your choosing. It should be a verb that represents an unwanted situation that keeps occurring.
Here are some examples:
“If someone beats you everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
“If someone harms you everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
“If someone wastes your time everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
“If someone undermines your health everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
“If someone robs you everyday, and everyday you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
Obviously, I’m talking about adults who have the freedom to choose…not children who are stuck in abusive situations.
If you’re an adult, enabling bad behavior is idiotic, not saintly.
This goes against popular wisdom, which says to “Forgive.”
The correct way to forgive is to move on quickly after a mistake has been made. Moving on can entail cutting the person out of your life if need be, or “firing” them, or simply communicating a boundary.
But if the same “mistake” continues to be made over and over again, then forgiveness is no longer called for. At that point, it should be replaced with getting the cause of the mistake out of your life altogether. Otherwise, by keeping the “mistake maker” in your life, you’re enabling their bad behavior. You’re just inviting more of it.
And that makes you a moron.
The good news about being a moron is that it’s only a temporary state. You can choose at any time to stop being a moron.
“If someone yells at you every 30 seconds, and every 30 seconds you forgive them for it, that doesn’t make you a saint. It makes you an idiot.”
The girl on the plane finally hung up on her mom…and the toxic conversation came to a close. Hallelujah! That’s 15 minutes of her life she’ll never get back…but at least she inspired this email.
Anti-Marketing Tip of the Day: Don’t enable anyone.