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Recovery From Rescuing

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FathomCreative Commons License photo credit: alisonkanegae

Family Rescuers don't like it when other family members are angry with them. When we relate to others from a primarily rescuer role, we hate for others to think we are mean or unfair because our sense of self worth and self importance comes from having others look to and depend on us. In other words, we need to be needed so we can feel that we count. We are willing to sacrifice our own needs and best interest, even our very lives, in an effort to get our dependent loved ones to acknowledge and recognize us for what we've done for them.

In getting off the Victim Triangle we must shift our priorities by changing our perception about who we are and are not responsible for.

Below is a list of shifts that happen as we move into recovery from rescuing:

  • To recover from rescuing others we must make taking responsibility for ourselves our number one priority regardless of how selfish we have been taught to believe this is. And in so doing we become a model of self responsibility for those we previously rescued.
  • We get clear about whose approval we really need – ours, not the ones we rescue! We must come to understand that we are the ones whose acceptance we need to be seeking, not those who look to us to carry them!
  • We become willing for those we've rescued in the past to be angry with us as a result of giving up rescuing. We even understand why they would be! After all, if you had somebody that had taken care of you in some major way and that person suddenly stopped doing it … with no explanation … wouldn't you be upse
  • We no longer try to control or manage the feelings, opinions, beliefs or behavior of those we previously rescued. We understand that they have the right to make (even poor) choices and experience the consequences of those choices as a part of their own learning about themselves and life
  • We stop communicating to those we have taken care of that we see them as being or having a problem. Instead we support and encourage them to learn from the situations they create for themselves by reminding them that there are options and that they do indeed have the power to create a better life for themselves
  • We are able to recognize and state boundaries. In other words, we are clear on what is our business (us) and what is their business (them).

They don't have to understand or approve for us to assume responsibility for our own life and to give responsibility for themselves back to them. There is a relationship law that applies here … when we do what is truly best for ourselves, (not some whimsical preference, but what is truly right for us) everyone involved benefits. Let go of the need to control their opinion of you. Act in a way that is respectful of you and them and give them the right to feel however they feel about it without you needing to fix it. When you get okay with yourself for not rescuing them, they will too. It's the way it works.

Trust the process and put your own needs at the top of your priority list.

5 Responses

  1. Hi Lynne

    While reading your latest post, i got re-directed to this post which is what i exactly needed to read (again). Cant help admiring the coincidence and the timing.

    You are amazing.

    your aficionado

  2. Thank you, Leon for visiting & sharing. Yes, the three roles of victimhood, (rescuer, persecutor, victim) can all take serious toll on our lives. These roles take over the mind and prompt us to act in ways that generate much unhappiness.

    Your friend sounds like someone whose mind is trapped in believing a painful & limiting story. He may well believe that taking care of others is the only way he can get his needs, for acceptance & validation, met. As a result, he is driven to throw himself into the fire for his friends, over and over again.

    He may have adopted his story from early interaction with significant caretakers who either modeled such caretaking/rescuing behavior or were themselves “victims” looking to be saved.

    Your comment inspired me to say more on this topic. See my home blog page. Thanks again. Lynne

  3. Recuing can lead to serious consequences. I have a good friend who can not hold a steady job. He sees it as his role to rescue other employees from their fights with management. This usually leads to his taking up anti-adversarial stances with management, the net result: he gets fired, his friends continue to hold their jobs.

  4. Hi Tracy, I am glad you found your way here. Being a first born rescuer IS a heavy load indeed! That imprint can settle you into a way of being that will take over your whole life, for life.

    NO FUN! Living as chief caretaker accelerates aging and can destroy your health and emotional well being too.

    I recommend my webpage archives for more insight and support. Also I’ve written an article entitled “Three Faces of Victim” that I think you will find beneficial.
    The good news is that you CAN achieve personal freedom, self-responsibility (rather than “other-responsibility”) and inner peace. I hope you won’t settle for less. 🙂

  5. i have been a rescuer….i realize that this is probably the reason why i have been feeling overwhelmed with my life and responsibilities.
    I am a firstborn,my mum stays abroad so i take care of my 5 siblings.Everyone seems proud of me and my capability to ensure that everything runs well but the truth is the responsibility is overwhelming for me as i am only 26 and i stil have my life to live…
    I suppose to try and make things work i tried to please everyone and take all the responsibilities on my shoulder and the truth is by the end of last year,it was taking a toll of me and i almost lost it….
    Everyone is proud of the fact that i am responsible and all but deep down i feel the need to detach and just be by myself and i long to be free of all the worry and thoughts of how to manage others…
    I have read through some of the posts and i realize that i have been carrying a burden that isn’t mine…trying to be a people pleaser at the expense of my own feelings and i projected this even in my relationship with men…i would pay bills,worry about where we’d go on dates and deep down i was always looking to settle down and control the man’s life as well…either help him sort out his financial problems,help him improve his faith…always looking to help someone with the hope of receiving affection and gratitude in return….
    I guess its time to change that mind frame and adopt a much comfortable and tolerable way of living…
    Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts on this….i only got started with the posts and they shed alot of light on my currect situation…It feels hopeful to finally realize my mistakes and try and make amends.

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