As rescuers. we tend to believe that our dependent loved one(s) really can’t take care of themselves and … well, they often agree with us. They don’t happen to think that they can take care of themselves either!
Such a mutually shared belief keeps us, as rescuers hooked into rescuer mode. (After all, “what will happen to them if we don’t take care of them?”) Holding ourselves responsible for another’s well being causes tremendous guilt as well as reinforces the others belief that they need to be rescued.
There must be a shift inside our own minds if we want to move away from rescuing. We can achieve this shift by changing the way we see those we have carried. We change our previous ways of seeing those we have rescued by learning to question our limiting ideas about them, the ideas that have kept us believing that they are incapable, fragile, inept etc. We come to see how believing these things about them only reinforces their negative beliefs about themselves which in turn leaves them feeling less and less capable of taking care of themselves and keeps them dependent on us.
But by examining closely our beliefs about their limited capabilities we can begin to refrain from assuming responsibility for them. We come to empower rather than enable (disable) the people we previously tried to fix. We get better at defining appropriate boundaries as we gain clarity around what’s our business and what’s their business. We come into a more authentic relationship with ourselves and them as a result.