We frequently write about the role of Rescuer in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™. We do this because the majority of people tell us they adopt rescuing behavior when they become engaged in reactive or drama-filled relationships.
It makes sense that the Rescuing role is the most common role, since most people want to err on the side of defusing tension and keeping conflict under wraps. Rescuing is clearly the more socially acceptable DDT role. In the work setting, being agreeable and ready to help the boss or co-workers is reinforced as an admirable trait. However, when the Rescuer-as-Counselor becomes exaggerated and is our primary “go to strategy” difficulties may arise.
(An important note: We are not referring to professional counselors or therapists who provide valuable support to their clients. Here we are writing about the everyday DDT role of Rescuer who gives advice and curative remedies to others as they primary way of moving through life.)
The Rescuer-as-Counselor loves to share what they know and have learned. Counselors are quick to share an idea, the perfect book, workshop or advice on how others can improve their lives. Counselors also pride themselves on being great listeners. But their keen listening skills can border on gossip and prying into other’s affairs so that they have all the information to create a perfect solution.
In many cases, their advice may be useful which can keep people coming back for more, and promotes being dependent on the Rescuer who wants to feel needed.
Rescuers-as-Counselors can spend so much time thinking about how to solve other people’s issues that they avoid their own inner life. They need others to have problems so they don’t have to focus on their own. If you really listen to a Rescuer-as- Counselor, you will notice that they only focus on other people’s issues. In doing so, they avoid sharing their own challenges and may create a one-way relationship where vulnerability and sharing comes from others and not themselves.
With a little more balance in their approach, a Rescuer-as-Counselor can build upon their positive concern for others and grow into more equilibrium in working with life’s challenges. If this scenario speaks to you, try these steps:
- Simply stop giving so much advice. Listen to understand and connect—not to cure or fix.
- Ask for assistance or advice from others. By relinquishing your superiority as a Counselor you are leveling the playing field and allowing others to assist you. (If you identify with this role, beware. This will be very difficult for you!)
- Catch yourself giving advice. Stop, observe and ask yourself, “What am I defending or avoiding by giving advice right now?”
Treat yourself to more freedom and ease by letting go of the need to have the perfect book, idea or suggestion for others. You don’t have to have it all figured out!