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Addiction to Rescuing

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 04, 2023



Do you find yourself trying to fix and rescue others rather than taking care of yourself? Discover how rescuing others is a form of self-abandonment.



Do you find yourself drawn to people whom you think you can "help?"
people pleaser, overly nice
Do you find that some of your identity is based on being able to fix others, whether they want it or not?

Do you think of yourself as a loving and caring person when you reach out to help someone who is obviously not helping themselves?
 

You might be a rescuer.

Janie and Samantha, participants at one of my 5-Day Intensives, fell into this category. They had encouraged their husbands to come with them to the Intensive in the hopes of getting them "fixed." When Janie's husband Martin was working with me, Janie kept interrupting with "helpful" advice. I noticed that each time this occurred Martin would stiffen and withdraw. When I pointed this out to both of them, Janie claimed that she loved Martin and was just trying to be a caring and supportive wife.

The same was the case with Samantha and her husband Mike. Every time Samantha offered Mike her "insights," we could all see him shrivel inside himself.

I worked with both of these women on becoming aware of their controlling invasiveness - masked as ‘help.’ It was not easy for them to see. Then a situation occurred that made it crystal clear.

Another participant, Allen, was having a hard time at the Intensive. Because he had spent his life trying to control people with his niceness, he had no idea how to be authentic. He had learned to operate out of his head rather than being in his body and in his heart. As a result, no one could connect with him - which had been a problem in all his relationships. He had three failed marriages and a fourth well on its way toward failure.

For the first time in his life, Allen was receiving honest feedback about how much people were put off by him being in his head and by his controlling niceness. They wanted to feel him and connect with him, and they couldn't. At first, Allen was angry and upset by this feedback. He was so desirous of approval that honesty made him feel rejected - a reflection of his inner rejection of himself.

During a break, I noticed that both Janie and Samantha went over to Allen, saying things like, "I want you to know that I care about you. I am sad that you are feeling badly." While this looked caring on the outside, in reality both Janie and Samantha were being drawn to Allen because their identities were dependent upon helping him. They wanted to be the ones to get him to "see the light," just as they tried to with their husbands. I noticed that Allen, instead of focusing on taking care of his hurt feelings, eagerly accepted their attention. Instead of actually helping him, they succeeded in participating in his addiction - getting others' approval.

After the break we spoke of what had happened.
 

The Light Went on For All Three of Them!

Janie and Samantha were both able to see that they were drawn to Allen from their wounded selves who were addicted to fixing others, and Allen was able to see that attaching to their approval was a form of self-abandonment. By the end of the Intensive, both Janie and Samantha had backed off from "helping" their husbands or Allen, and all three of the men - Martin, Mike, and Allen - were no longer withdrawing and were taking much more responsibility for their own feelings.

If you find yourself trying to rescue others, you might want to consider that your own inner child needs rescuing - by you! In trying to rescue others, you are ignoring your own feelings and your responsibility for them - such as your feeling of loneliness when someone like Allen stays in his head. Instead of trying to fix him so as not to feel lonely around him, what your inner child really needs is for you to acknowledge your feelings and move into compassion for yourself and the other person. When you are able to do this, it is likely that neither of you will feel alone.

Rescuing others not only does not help them, it’s also an abandonment of yourself.

Heal your relationships with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.



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Daily Inspiration

Your emotions are a great gift, letting you know when you are on track or off track in your thinking and behavior, or when you need to attend to what is happening with a person or situation. Today, practice learning what your painful emotions are telling you, rather than avoiding them with your various addictions.

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DAILY INSPIRATION

Your emotions are a great gift, letting you know when you are on track or off track in your thinking and behavior, or when you need to attend to what is happening with a person or situation. Today, practice learning what your painful emotions are telling you, rather than avoiding them with your various addictions.

By

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