Tag Archives: Personal Responsibility

The Difference Between Helping and Enabling

Unconditional love is such an amazing non-reality. Why? Because “unconditional” love means you don’t make judgments, which are absolutely necessary.  We have to discern right from wrong, good from evil, and sacred from profane. And one of the judgments we all have to make at one time or another is the difference between helping and enabling.

Doing a nice thing for someone or helping out occasionally is one thing, but when a person is capable and their responsibilities are handled for them all the time, they are not held responsible. Enabling protects them from the consequences of their choices and actions. And the more you let them depend on you and take you for granted, the less motivated they are to change.

Now let’s talk about the enabler. There’s a payoff for everything in life or else we wouldn’t do it. The enabler enables because it gives them a false sense of superiority and makes them feel needed. They also feel control over the other person (through guilt) by helping them. However, they ironically still end up feeling resentful, frustrated, or unappreciated.

Real love for somebody is being able to step back and allow them to suffer enough to recognize their need to change. That’s the only way to help make them a whole human being again.

Here are some tips to help you stop being an enabler:

  • Don’t lie for anyone. Don’t be the wife who gets on the phone and says her husband is sick when he’s hungover.
  • Don’t make excuses for others when they don’t fulfill their obligations.
  • Don’t clean up after a substance abuser. They should see the damage they’ve done and the chaos they’ve caused.
  • Be accountable for your bills only. If you’re not responsible for it, don’t pay it.
  • Stand up for yourself. You don’t have to be mean, but you do have to put your foot down.
  • Don’t rescue. A person must suffer the consequences of their actions. Which means don’t pay for lawyers or post bail.
  • Stop trying to fix everybody. You’re not a magician and you’re not God. Work on yourself. Get the support of friends, family members and counselors. Join Al-Anon or some other 12-step program. Do whatever it takes to stop yourself from hurting somebody else with your notion of helping.

You’re Better Than Some, Not as Good as Others

Striving for excellence is a worthy enterprise. But if you find yourself in distress because of real or perceived failures along the way, or you quit because you’re not perfect, then you have a problem.

I struggle with being a perfectionist. I work really hard to do everything well, and I get upset and distracted if I can’t. However, I don’t quit – I find another route.

For example, some of the jewelry I make is fine silver from precious metal clay. It’s not easy to work with and dries practically just by looking at it. I decided to take a three-day private lesson from an incredible metal clay artist, Lisa Barth. While training with Lisa, I made a number of nice things, but I had in my mind that anything I made had to look as good as what she made. After two and a half weeks of frustration, I ended up throwing away most of my work.

Why couldn’t I do it like she did? Was it because she had done it longer?

No, time was only partially the answer. The problem was that I am not artistic in the sense that Lisa is. For example, I could take painting lessons from Da Vinci all day, but I could never paint like him in 40 years of practice. There’s a certain quality you have to have.

I needed to accept the fact that I could NOT do Da Vinci (or Lisa Barth) – I could ONLY do Dr. Laura.

The minute I told myself that, I made a couple of things immediately! They weren’t complex, but they were nice. I freed myself up by recognizing that even though I didn’t have that talent, I did have a talent.

I don’t perceive it as any form of quitting or being negative about myself. I consider it being honest with myself. Things don’t make you feel bad about yourself; your ATTITUDE about those things makes you feel bad about yourself.

Here are some tips for the next time you’re struggling with the need to be perfect:

    • Realize you are limited – more limited in some areas and less limited in others. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality.


    • Accept that there are always going to be people better than you. Every day, say to yourself, “I’m better than some, not as good as others.”


    • Recognize that mistakes happen and they should happen. You cannot be on your game 24/7. People who are always down on themselves do not live as long.


    • Try not to get impatient with yourself when you are stressed out. When you are stressed, try to avoid activities that require an intense amount of concentration or focus. These types of activities can make the stress worse instead of better.


  • Have a sense of humor.


Establishing Rules for Teens

I don’t know which is worse: being a teenager or having one.

Teenagers are at a point in their lives where they are only beginning to mature. They want more responsibility, but still need boundaries and guidelines, especially because many teens feel invulnerable.

The number one rule when it comes to teenagers is to never argue. The minute you argue, you lose because you put yourself on their level and they know it.

In addition, parents should set clear and sensible rules in advance. Sit down with your teen and discuss the rules and consequences together. Don’t make empty threats, and be consistent. If you are enforcing a consequence, be very clear about why it is taking place. For example, “Because you didn’t ___, you will have to___, which we previously discussed.”

Here are some areas in which parents absolutely need to establish rules with their teens:

    1. Driving. Car accidents are the number one killer of teens. Some rules that keep teens safer in the car include spending more time driving with parents, limiting passengers, eliminating distractions such as music, food, and cell phones, and being required to pay for gas, insurance, and any tickets received. If your teenager breaches the rules, the car is gone. It’s a one-strike policy because this is a matter of life and death.


    1. Use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Teens are less likely to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco if their parents set clear rules about what will happen if they do and explain why they shouldn’t. They may not agree with you, but it doesn’t matter. They will eventually be teaching their kids the same thing.


    1. Dating. Discuss when they can start dating and under what conditions. Teenagers should only go on group dates until they are 17, especially because of how sexualized things have become these days. I remember the first time I was allowed to be alone in a car with a guy. He had to convince my dad, and then my dad went outside and looked at his car. He had a very small sports car with a stick shift, bucket seats, and no backseat. Unless we were contortionists, there was no possible way for us to fool around in that car. So my dad came back in, laughed, and said, “OK.”


    1. Computers, TV, books, magazines, and music. Decide on what is allowed and when. Keep the computer in a public place and restrict access to times when everyone is there to avoid the dangers of inappropriate websites and online predators.


    1. Friends. Peer acceptance is a very strong influence on teens. You have to know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. If I wanted to go to a party when I was a teenager, my parents always called my friend’s parents first.


    1. Where they spend their free time. Have kids check in when they are away from home or school, and have a signal if your teen needs to be picked up from a bad situation. 


    1. Curfews. Set a curfew, but be willing to negotiate for special circumstances.


Consequences for breaking the rules should generally not be longer than three weeks. And if you punish your teen, don’t just take away their cell phone (that punishment always makes me laugh because they know they’re just going to get it back). Have them do community service or something else concrete so that they are out of the house actively participating in something. Canceling activities or not allowing friends to come over are also good consequences.

15 Things Successful People Do Differently

There are certain habits and behaviors common to most successful people. Here are 15 of them:

  1. They get up early.
    Successful people use the morning to meditate, plan their day and work on important projects without interruptions. When my son was little, I used to get up at 5 a.m. to work on my books so I wouldn’t be distracted or interfere with anything that had to do with my kidlet.
  2. They exercise almost every day.
    Exercise increases your energy level, elevates your mood and makes you more confident. Nothing feels better than finishing a hard workout.
  3. They eat right and watch their weight.
    Eating healthy makes you feel better in every size, shape and form.
  4. They do what they have to do, even when they don’t feel like it.
    Why? Because it needs to be done, and it’s the honorable thing to do.
  5. They don’t try, they do.
    Saying, “I’ll try,” means you’ve already decided on a give-up point. Trying is an escape plan; doing is a commitment.
  6. They plan their day.
    When I was in college, I would make a 3 x 5 card of everything I had to do the next day before I went to bed. Practically every 15 minutes was accounted for (going to class, studying, taking breaks, eating meals, going to the gym, etc.), and I didn’t let anyone or anything short of a tornado change my plan. It was a great way to make sure there wasn’t chaos the next day.
  7. They have the right attitude.
    Successful people think about what they want and formulate a plan to achieve it. They don’t sit around dwelling on what they don’t have, what they’ve missed, and how they have gotten screwed over. Sure, we all have moments where we are pissy about things that probably won’t change, and it’s OK to spend some time getting the aggravation out. But you can’t spend all your time there. You can visit, but you can’t move in.
  8. They have guts.
    That doesn’t mean they are not without fear.  It means they are scared and do it anyway. Successful people actually experience more fear than most people because they put themselves in riskier situations of learning and growing to reach goals. Most people are unwilling to risk being uncomfortable. The night before I was to go national with my radio show for the first time, I was terrified. I sat by the phone hoping somebody would call to say that they had changed their mind. However, I got up in the morning, turned on the microphone, and told myself that it didn’t matter if it was local, national or interplanetary – I had a job to do.
  9. They don’t waste their time with mindless activities.
    Successful people don’t spend their time watching reality TV or glued to Facebook. A movie or witty, half-hour comedy is fine, but not the other mind-numbing stuff.
  10. They are constantly learning, growing and stretching their brains.
    They take classes, read and watch instructional videos.
  11. They are people of great strength, character and conviction.
    They stand by what they say, and say what they mean out loud.
  12. They manage their money carefully, even if they entrust money matters to their spouse or professionals.
  13. They decide what they want to accomplish, and then figure out a way to make it happen. 
  14. No matter how large or small the task, they do everything with excellence.
    Excellence is not the same thing as perfection because perfection is not possible. But when it comes to doing something, good enough is not good enough.
  15. They are loyal.
    They pick their friends wisely, avoid people who are a pain in the butt, and surround themselves with good people. They take care of others, but also allow others to take care of themselves.