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Courage to Change:

I was terribly confused about the meaning of “compassion” when I came to Al-Anon. I thought it meant making excuses for the alcoholic or covering bad checks. Al-Anon helped me to find another word for this behavior: “enabling.” I learned that when I cleaned up the consequences of alcoholic behavior, I enabled the alcoholic to continue drinking comfortably and acting out without having to pay the price. A more compassionate way to respond to those I love might be to allow them to face the consequences of their actions, even when it will cause them pain.

How do I know whether a particular action is enabling? While this is not always clear, I find it helpful to look carefully at my motives. Am I trying to interfere with the natural consequences of a loved one’s choices? Am I trying to do for someone what they could do for themselves? Am I doing what I think is best for me? Do I resent what I am doing? If so, is it really a loving choice? Sometimes the most compassionate thing I can do is to let others take responsibility for their behavior.

Today’s Reminder:

Today I will remember that I have choices, and so does the alcoholic. I will make the best choices I can and allow others in my life to do the same without interference.

“I must learn to give those I love the right to make their own mistakes and recognize them as theirs alone.”
– A1-Anon Faces Alcoholism

From the book “Courage to Change”. Copyright Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1992