This is the last blog in a 3 part series about the habit of rescuing others. Habits are hard to break. Breaking the habit of rescuing others is even harder because it involves you and someone else who has come to expect things from you. Without realizing what you have created by continuing to ‘be there in a pinch’ you may see that an entitlement mentality has developed. If so, we must ask ourselves if we are really helping them through their latest ‘crisis’ or actually causing them to become more dependent, or at least expectant on us, over the long haul. Think of holding a young child’s hand when they are learning to walk. You wouldn’t think of continuing to hold their hand throughout their adult life right? That would make them weak, insecure and emotionally dependent. A continual pattern of rescuing others actually hurts rather than helps them. What we do want is for them to develop resiliency in life. The ability to bounce back from their own life challenges. The Universe gives each of us exactly the challenges we have chosen to learn in this lifetime. There is no lesson learned by someone else fixing our problems. Sadly, the lessons will continue in frequency and intensity until we alone handle them ourselves. The following poem written by an unknown author sums up the importance of not rescuing others.
To ‘let go’ does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t continue to fix life for someone else.
To ‘let go’ is not to cut myself out of the picture but
to realize that I can’t fix every scene.
To ‘let go’ is not to continually enable crisis thinking
but to have enough faith in them to change it.
To ‘let go’ is to admit powerlessness,
which means I can’t fix their life, they must do it themselves.
To ‘let go’ is not to blame or try to change them
but to accept how they choose to live their life.
To ‘let go’ is not to care for
but to care about.
To ‘let go’ is not to be in the middle, arranging the outcomes
but to allow them to experience their chosen destiny.
To ‘let go’ is not to be overly protective
but to permit another to face their own reality.
To ‘let go’ is to have enough faith in another
to allow them to learn their own life lessons.
To ‘let go’ is to fear less and love more.
Each of us must learn to set our own boundaries, limits and expectations. When we truly love others enough we begin to practice being a good listener and supportive when they face life challenges but resist the temptation to just fix it one last time. We become strong enough to recognize the difference between enabling and disabling others from our actions. Over time, as we back away, we will see those same people who had come to rely on us handle their own situations and we can take pride in realizing that we had enough love and faith in them to know they could do it!
Have a great few days!
Is it hard for you to let go and let others figure out a solution to their latest crisis or drama? If you answered YES! to this question you are not alone. For instance, the number of adult children in their 20’s, 30’s even 40’s still living with their parents or being supported by them is both surprising and sad. We can’t simply blame it on the economic times but we can see it for what it is, a feeling of entitlement, low self esteem and the development of a new norm of expectation. Entitlement can run deep in many relationships. I have had the chance to talk with people recently about the entitlement mentality and I thought it important to share their collective thoughts. Although they remain hopeful that ‘tomorrow will be better’ deep down they feel both burdened and resentful that there always seems to be a new crisis that they are called upon to fix. One person offered an analogy that describes it quite well. “At first I saw them limping and offered what I thought was a temporary crutch but now they seem to be permanently on crutches and expecting me to fix their latest issue. They have a permanent limp!”
Look closely at the human dynamics of your situation. If you notice an entitlement behavioral pattern that has developed in someone you have a choice, to feed into it and fix their latest crisis once again or say, ‘I can’t rescue any longer.’ It takes all the courage you have to change your own enabling behavior but my question to you is, ‘Are THEY worth it?’ By continually rescuing others it lowers their own self worth and becomes emotionally crippling to them. They lose confidence over time and begin to slide into the ‘poor me’ mentality. Consequently, they don’t accept responsibility for the result of their own choices but are quick to say someone or something else caused the latest crisis in their lives. The truly sad part is that continuing this mentality causes them to experience even more challenges because they are not learning their own life lessons that are continually being presented to them. We know that at first the Universe whispers, then talks and eventually shouts – repeatedly – to them through ever increasing challenges in their lives until the day they decide, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me.’
The good news is that they can and will step up to the plate if and when you remove yourself as the perpetual ‘Rescuer in Charge’ of their latest crisis. Even if there is a generational pattern of dependency, positive change over time can happen for them when they are forced to deal with each challenge that they create. The first step is a big one but over time it gets easier.
The issue is about so much more than money. With the 24/7 news coverage we experience we often see the children and family members of the incredibly rich demonstrate this rescuer/dependency cycle. Just look at the research on the lottery winners. One year after winning large sums they are no happier than before. Why? Because their self confidence and self esteem wasn’t increased – only their bank account. They didn’t put in the effort and self discipline to learn their life lessons and achieve something, they simply won money, not self esteem, and it is an empty win.
Success is experienced when a person faces life head on, accepts responsibility for their latest challenge and figures out a way to handle it ….without you. Is it hard to stand by and watch them struggle – absolutely! Do you have enough faith and love for them to let them figure out their own solutions? Unless you want to see them at 60 years old still struggling to learn independence you must be strong, even fearless when the next crisis happens and allow them the human dignity to figure it out on their own.
In my next blog I will be talking more about this topic. It takes time to internalize our own lessons and change our enabling behavior. Just remember saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean you don’t love them but that you love them too much not to say it.
Have a great few days!