This is the second blog on the topic of rescuing others and creating an entitlement mentality. Please go to last Sunday’s blog in the archives to read part one if you missed it. The topic, of course, is when to help someone in need and when to realize that YOU are perpetuating an expectation in them that is interfering with their life lessons and growth.
Let’s first start with you in the role of the rescuer. If you are reading this I bet you have become quite good at it. Although you don’t wear a badge that says, ‘Rescuer in Charge,’ you may be living the role. When you get to the point that you can no longer do everything or you start to resent the fact that you are constantly called upon to ‘fix’ something for someone it is time to accept responsibility for what you have created. The timing is easy to figure out both your head and heart will tell you. If you have offered a helping hand to someone once or twice and it has helped them, good for you! If, however, you look at a situation and find that a pattern has been established in which you are repeatedly called upon to jump in to fix something for them it says more about you as Rescuer in Charge than it does about them.
What exactly is this rescuer behavior pattern and how did you acquire it? Most likely it goes back to childhood. At some early age you realized that if you did something to help someone things would go smoother for them in the family dynamics. Sure enough it worked and you felt that you had figured out a way to avoid an upset if you jumped in to rescue. As long as you were ever ready to fix the latest problem things seemed to go better. Let’s fast forward 20, 30 or even 40 years. The pattern you have established from childhood is to rescue -to jump in and help anyone and everyone when a crisis surfaced. In fact, you may have become so good at it that you are literally called upon by many people when a crisis happens in their life. It makes you feel important, loved even, as you once again get things back to an even keel when you put on your Superman cape and dramatically swoop in to help. You think to yourself, ‘I can do this or that ….they need me.’ It’s a heady feeling to be needed.
An opportunity for your own self growth arises when you can no longer meet the ever expanding requests and are courageous enough to admit it. If you have established a pattern of being needed (also known as the rescuer) and do something about it pat yourself on the back. When you decide enough is enough be prepared. Folks may not remember how many times you were there for them but only this time when you did not jump in. Expect this response and you won’t be disappointed. Most likely they will resent you for saying ‘No, I can’t help this time.’ After all you have conditioned them to expect you to be there. Your help has become a life expectancy. It will take them a little while to regroup after your first or second refusal but trust me, they will regroup. In fact, they will become stronger, as we all do, when the have to figure out our own solutions in life. When we rise to the challenge we gain self confidence and a greater feeling of control in life.
The good part is that you have been able to help others in the past and have made the world a little better place. Now you recognize that a pattern of expectancy has developed and you love them enough to be strong and break the cycle. Be prepared, the thinking of those you have continuously helped goes like this….’If I act overwhelmed, angry or depressed or simply refuse to accept that he/she says they can’t do what I want them to do, they will give in and fix it.’ Trust me on this, you are being manipulated by them to their own detriment. They have figured out your pattern way before you have figured out theirs. They will be confused, at first, because their manipulation has ‘worked’ for them in the past. The truth is that it has slowly but surely caused them to feel that life just isn’t fair and and the ‘poor me’ syndrome in their life has set in. What you did out of love and concern has become an obligation – an expectancy – and everyone loses. You wouldn’t purposely hurt someone you love but without realizing it you are doing just that by allowing them to continually rely on you. You have moved from enabling them to disabling them by always running to the rescue.
This may come as a shock but the truth is that they will survive without you when they are forced to accept responsibility for their life choices and challenges. They will stop the blame game or ‘poor me’ attitude and will decide to readjust their thinking to be, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me.’ That is an empowering mind set. Regardless of their decision to handle their situation or not, one thing is for sure, if you have established a pattern of rescuing others only YOU can fix it.
Next Sunday I will follow up on this topic with a poem that talks about letting go with love. It is a powerful lesson for those of us who are fixers in life. Stay tuned!
Have a great few days!