Dolphins learn to please their trainers by pretending to be sick, because they know that their trainers take such joy in healing them. Such clever animals, they are not alone. Human beings can unintentionally fall into this pattern as well, the extreme version being codependency.
There is a fine line between helping suffering people through a difficult time and enabling them. The former is noble, the latter is a disease.
I have been on both ends of the pool – the dolphin and the trainer. I have needed help, but unlike the dolphin I did not understand that the chaos surrounding me was self-created. I believed then that unfortunate circumstances took me by surprise and made me a temporary victim. I was blind to my part in it. Gratefully, I had amazing and loving people coax my better self to fight for an intentional and peaceful life.
I also have helped people in need of my guidance, my empathy, my strength to get through a hard time. What I look for, because I have to be very careful not to care more for them than they care for themselves, is whether they have the ability, the intention to fight for themselves. Without that, without the energy to rise up beyond the fog and breathe deep, long breaths of freedom, there is nothing I can do, except throw them kindly back in the pool.