To Enable or to Not Enable?

how is dieting goingMarion Shaw published such an interesting post on her blog – i.e. The Toilet Function of Blogging on her blog – that I wanted to discuss it on my own blog in length. If you haven’t read her post, you should.

Marion’s post is about weight loss bloggers who are caught in a  cycle of complaints, rationalizations and fruitless attempts at weight loss, and what to do about it as a reader, commenter and blogging buddy.

I’ve especially been thinking about the following part of Marion’s post.

I’ve been blogging for a long time now. I guess it took me quite a while before I got fed up with this. But this needs to be said loudly–When blogging friends are full of excuses and complaints about everything and everybody, do not send “((Hugs!!!))” to them.

  • When they eat 7 donuts in a row and blame it on stress from work, I repeat, do not send “((Hugs!!!))” to them.

I have to say that if you take Marion’s definition of enabling, then I’m probably guilty as charged.

I’m an enabler.

However, I don’t know if it is a bad thing or not. Or to put it better “I don’t know how much of a bad thing it is”.

If someone is really stuck in some self-destructive life pattern (I have been), whether you make enabling or un-enabling (?) comments doesn’t really matter. The person who is caught in the pattern may not be able to make use of your constructive comment any more than he is able to make use of the “enabling hug” you send their way.

I also think everyone is allowed to use their own blog any way they want – if their blog is their dumping ground, so be it. If following the blogger is too hard for you, you need to make the decision to stop reading the blog.

Another thing I wonder about is how much we can really expect to influence anyone’s life by making comments on anyone’s blog.

I doubt blog commenting is going to make a lot of difference if the blogger isn’t already receptive on some level. I’m thinking in the lines of “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.


 Marion’s post made me think very hard about the topic and I suspect I will think about the issue for a long time.

This is also something that everyone will probably face in real life friendships and relationships sooner or later. I’ve disengaged myself from a couple of friendships that were going in the wrong direction. I’m not interested in mutual pity parties nor being the fixee in a fixer/fixee relationship.

Marion’s post made me also think about my own pattern of “stuckness” regarding my weight loss attempts.

I started this blog almost three years ago and one of my goals was to chronicle my weight loss. It was a good plan, except that the weight loss didn’t happen. 🙂 I have had several half-successful attempts at losing weight but sooner or later they fizzled out and I gained the weight back.

At some point I started seriously wondering about what the problem really was. Last fall I pretty much came to the conclusion that my life is broken. If I don’t fix my life first, I probably won’t manage to lose the weight either.

I would’ve rather come to the conclusion that there is something wrong with my weight loss “technique” because that would’ve been much easier to fix than starting the laborious process of fixing my life from the bottom up. I’ve managed to lose some weight lately, and at the moment I’m starting to hope that this might not be just another downswing in an endless process of ups and downs. Only time will show.

P.S. Last fall I also jokingly remarked to one of my friends that according to my body composition meter I’m half made of fat. My friend then asked me what I’m going to do about it. I was a bit taken aback and I didn’t answer her at all, because then I would’ve been forced to explain at length that I had already tried losing weight for years but have only managed to put on more weight. How do you explain that to someone else?


  1. Have you ever considered that nothing is broken and nothing needs to be fixed? Imagine what actions you’d take and what behaviors you’d exhibit if you imagined that you didn’t have to fix anything first.

  2. Satu says:

    I have considered it, actually. 🙂 Especially when I’m in a good mood, I don’t feel there is anything that needs to be fixed about me or my life. But on the other hand I had to admit to myself how much I hate my life to be able to break out of my own pattern.

  3. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! Well, there is too much up there for me to respond to in a single comment. In fact, I’m not even certain where to begin.

    I think that little things we do and say, such as comments on a blog, *do* impact the person. More so than we imagine. After all, where did we get our view of our world but from other people’s opinions and our experiences? No, we are not going to be able to straighten out a person’s lifestyle. But many bloggers and gym buddies have told me that my suggestions and encouragement really *did* matter. Do we get any higher status from these successful ideas that help others? No, it is more like how my grandmother told all my relatives that I gave her the best hairspray ever–sort of one of those compliments that was overshadowing my bigger more successful achievements. And yet, to my grandmother in her late 80’s, that hairspray made her life so much better. And I kind of like the idea that I might be able to keep my beauty together when I’m in my late 80’s.

    The uncaring comments impact too. I think *everyone* in the blogging world already knows this, but when someone is being destructive to themselves, a good friend does not actively encourage the destructiveness. A real friend wants you to do much(!) better. Sometimes it takes the blunt person to be the kindest friend. In law school, there was a woman who was bawling over her grade in a class. I grabbed that woman, pulled her into the bathroom, literally wiped her tears, and bluntly told her, “You’ve got to get yourself together.” And she really needed that bluntness and she had so much more courage and no tears when she faced the rest of the class after what I told her. Her so-called “friends” did *not* help her when she needed it most. <–That is the sentiment I was trying to say in that post.

    To be fair to my post, like you, I also came to the conclusion that if the blogger's constant complaining bothers the reader, that the reader should definitely feel okay to quit reading that blog. I also gave examples of how to kindly encourage a whiny blogger without being an enabler. It can be done.

    Regarding what you said about having to fix your life from the ground up in order to fix food habits, I had to do that too. Yes, I had to face a bunch of hard things to get my eating to work. All of a person's actions are intricately connected. Like a puppet, when the arm gets lifted, by ((hugs!!!)) or otherwise, it shifts the rest of the body. So we need to pay careful attention about what we say to others because it really does alter their lives.

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      Hi Marion!

      I do wonder about how much one can really influence people by making comments, but I do admit I’m not 100% sure if I’m correct in my view. How would I know?

      I think one reason for the way I see things is the fact that was raised in a family that puts a very high value in being discreet – even if it means letting the other person bang her head in/on? a wall repeatedly before she “gets it.” That attitude has it’s pro’s and cons – you get to respect the other person’s autonomy, but if it goes to another extreme, it turns into neglect instead of respect.

      I find it kind of sad we women use so much time trying to lose weight instead of fixing things in our lives that we are not satisfied with. In my own case, I was simply afraid that fixing my own life might be such a huge job that I will not able to make it. And I did spend a long time banging my head on the wall before I admitted that this isn’t really working. 🙂

      I did love your post because it made me think through things and question some ways I usually do stuff. And I don’t think I’m through thinking about this topic.

  4. This is a tough one Satu because I don’t think we can ever stand in anyone’s shoes and know exactly what they’re going through.

    Some people blog just to share thoughts, others seek advice or help and others perhaps seek reassurance.

    I read a lot of blogs just cos I like the way a person thinks – even if I don’t agree with anything or everything they say.


    • Satu says:

      Hi Deb!

      My friend’s comment – the one I mentioned at the end of my post – was supposedly meant as some kind of tough love comment. The only problem was that I had already been trying to fix the problem – for years! – without seeing much result. I was left feeling really stupid and really failed as a person after that remark even though I’m pretty sure my friend didn’t mean to hurt me.

      That is exactly the problem with commenting on anyone’s experience – you probably don’t know what the other person is going through, so how do you really know what the other person needs or wants?

  5. Lori says:

    I have been blogging for years now and I get all sorts of comments and emails. I do think about all of them. Sometimes the person is just so way off base that their suggestion is no good, so should you say that or just ignore it. That’s the problem with reading a blog. You only see what the person puts on the internet. A lot goes on under the surface or sometimes just explaining something would be so time consuming that it isn’t worth it. So, you read something and your reaction may be in response to just what is portrayed.

    Anyway, I take blogs out of my reader if they are too negative because I don’t want that in my life. I struggle enough getting to comment on all the blogs in my reader as it is! 😀

    • Satu says:

      For some reason I’ve never liked feed readers, so my blog reading and commenting is really haphazard at times. I have a very limited set of blogs I follow regularly and more sites I check semi regularly..

  6. Hi Satu…definite food for thought here. Like others are saying, we only ‘see’ a small portion of the blogger’s life, and we don’t know if they are looking for advice, to vent, reassurance or nothing at all. Personally, if I read a blog that is negative, I don’t comment and don’t read regularly. I may certainly have an opinion, but who am I to tell this virtual stranger what I think of the way they’re running their lives? If they seem desperate or sad, I do the virtual ‘hug’. Does that make me an enabler? Possibly. Does that make me kind? I’d like to think so. Would it make me feel better if I “called it as I see it?” No. There is enough confrontation and anger in real life, who needs to get into that via blogs? Not me…

    • Satu says:

      Hi Roz!

      I admit I’m more comfortable being kind than offering tough love… That doesn’t come naturally to me and I would probably come across as aggressive rather than assertive if I’m not very careful about how I comment.

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