A friend and colleague recently told us a story about how she learned of her tendency to respond to requests that weren’t being made.  This insight transformed the way she now listens and responds to the many demands in her life.  Here is her story in her own words:

“I was participating in an embodied leadership exercise intended to simulate our habitual response to pressure and handling of multiple commitments.   Our teacher created an exercise, called rondori, from the martial art of Aikido.  Rondori is a Japanese word that is roughly translated as ‘chaotic movement’. 

In the martial tradition, a rondori occurs when several attackers rush a candidate who is testing for their next belt.  In our real lives we face metaphorical rondoris almost daily.  These come as requests, problems, complaints, emails, phone calls, family demands, opportunities, invitations and communication breakdowns. 

In my first rondori, rather than waiting for the ‘attackers’ (other class participants) to come to me I was basically chasing them around the circle making sure I made contact with them.    My teacher commented that I seemed to be ‘responding to requests that weren’t being made’ – taking care of people who hadn’t asked to be taken care of.   There was a BIG lesson for me in this exercise and it helped me to see my rescuing tendencies.”

This story illustrates the Rescuing role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™. The Rescuer is someone who wants to diffuse tension or conflict by reaching out to others, willing to give up their own dignity in order to accommodate and please.  When in daily chaos, there are simply too many people and demands to please, especially if responding to requests that aren’t being made.   No wonder exhaustion and burnout is typical for a serial Rescuer.

Another strategy in this situation may include the Persecutor’s need to control and compete, feeling it is better to attack the other participants rather than wait and allow what would emerge as they came forward.   The Persecutor may say, “I better attack before I am attacked.”

We are grateful for our friend’s vulnerability in sharing this story.  She learned to be more conscious in recognizing and responding to true requests rather than treating everything within her sight as something she needed to take care of.

Reflect on this story and put yourself in the place of our friend.  Visualize how you would have responded.  What is your dominate style in dealing with chaos and constant demands?  Noticing and becoming more aware of your habitual DDT™ patterns will allow you to choose more resourcefully.