A majority of people tell us that when they go reactive and slip into the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™, the most common role they take on is that of Rescuer. Makes sense doesn’t it? Our cultural norms reward people who are kind and pleasing.
As “recovering Rescuers” we understand well the default habit of wanting to please and be helpful. Over the years we have learned to stop and ask ourselves: “Why do we always think first about helping others when we actually may be interfering with their job or their ability to take responsibility for their own affairs? Are we really helping, or are we interfering?”
Once we began observing the habit of always pleasing first, we saw that constant helping, ironically, often created fuel for the DDT. The cycle looks something like this: We want to help, but when the person with the victim mentality shuns our interfering, we eventually feel persecuted because they did not take our advice.
In creating the TED* work, we have investigated what is behind the Rescuer’s need to habitually please others. We feel it is a craving to want others to give us positive feedback, and think well of us for being helpful. To be blunt, we want others to love us for our good deeds rather than love us simply for who we are.
What we have discovered is that people-pleasing is really self-centered because we are more interested in people liking us than deeply listening to them or accepting them just as they are. We have fooled ourselves in believing that we are being helpful for altruistic reasons when down deep, we crave love and respect.
Through our good deeds, we Rescuers are really saying: “I will make you need me. I will be so helpful and pleasing that you cannot live without me.” Eventually Rescuers may become very critical (all in the name of being helpful!) if others don’t follow our suggestions.
Rescuers repress our own needs and pretend we don’t have any needs at all. Finally, we realize: “No one’s giving back to me!”
This can be a powerful turning point, if the Rescuer can see that it is time to let go and turn their attention to their own affairs. This is very difficult because Rescuers have a life-long habit of taking care of others.
We have learned it is not selfish to focus on ourselves and what is ours to do rather than shaping our self-image around the needs of others. Once we can develop an authentic self-image, not depending on the approval of others, we will be ready to assist and appreciate others for who they truly are.