Stop rescuing. Start exploring.
I made another interesting observation lately: I am really drawn to rescuing people. I feel good when I can help others, and not just help, rescue them, really.
“Rescuing” means you act for others, you try to read their mind, figuring out what they need almost before they know it themselves. I see it everywhere around, so I am not the only one with this pattern. It’s not a “bad” thing. In fact, it is not about good or bad: It is about the results we want to create.
I described the power of the victim role in the low drama triangle before (here).* Moving on to the rescuer role in that drama, I am increasingly getting how destructive it is. Yet it looks so harmless and noble on the face of it.
When we “rescue” someone, we may start by thinking we know better than them (implying they don’t know). What we’re essentially putting out there is that they are not good enough, that they are not OK (because they’re the poor little victim and don’t know how to do things). That message destroys authentic relationships and only fuels the drama. Nothing changes, apart from time going by.
The position of rescuer in the low drama triangle is an irresponsible expression of fear. The fear could be related to the fact that the other person is not capable of looking after themselves. So we jump in and find the answers for them, do it for them, speak for them. The fear could also be related to ourselves feeling unworthy unless we do something for someone else.
So what, it’s a “good” thing to help, right?
Helping and rescuing aren’t the same. When you help someone, that other person is still their own authority. They might ask you for help. Or you might offer your help. Then it is clear that your support is actually wanted. It is empowering for both, because both of you stay in your power of saying that you want help, or that you want to help, instead of just assuming these things and overruling one another, overstepping boundaries.
If you want to have empowered people around you, stop rescuing them. Ask them before you jump in. Ask them whether they want your help, or how you can help them. Ask yourself whether you really want to help, or whether you’re acting as a responsible victim (a victim of the fact that “someone’s got to do it, and it’s got to be you because all the other’s can’t do it properly”) or out of a sense of unworthiness.
Start exploring what it is that the other person wants or needs. Be curious. Ask questions. Do not make assumptions. And listen to yourself, explore what you are truly willing to give. You could also express your feeling of fear around your impulse to rescue. See what happens.
Are you up for this challenge? If you are, I’m really curious to hear how you’re going with this experiment.
* The low drama triangle was developed in the context of Possibility Management on the basis of Karpman’s drama triangle (transactional analysis).
This article was inspired by Possibility Management and life itself.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.