As recovering rescuers, we know well the Rescuer role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™.

When under stress or when we “go reactive” both of us default to playing the Rescuer role.

Through practicing the TED* work, we have become aware of our own tendency to be overly helpful and not notice how the rescuing trait may be disempowering and even harmful to others.

When referring to the Rescuer role, we are not talking about professional rescuers such as police or fire fighters who rush into a burning home to rescue people. We are describing the role of Rescuer as a self-identity—where we believe it is our job to take care of others, even when it is others responsibility to take care of themselves.

Here are a few of the traits that encompass the unhealthy aspects of the Rescuer role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle:

  • Feel as though you have failed or let others down if you are unable to fix things.
  • Have a sense of urgency or obligation to jump in to save the day.
  • May take on more work or duties, even when others are responsible.
  • Visualize how grateful others will be when they discover your good deed.
  • Feel indispensable, and at the same time feel unimportant and unable to meet your own needs.
  • Wonder why others sometimes feel victimized by your helping suggestions.
  • Experience exhaustion and burn-out by continuously focusing on what others need.
  • Attract others who are always in a crisis and need your help.

Rescuers believe that if something needs to be done, it won’t happen unless they do it. In addition, a Rescuer is usually unconscious of their own emotional needs and addresses everyone else’s needs over their own. When we recognize rescuing traits in ourselves, we are able to stop and choose a more empowering way of relating to others.

Even if you do not identify with the Rescuer role, we are confident you may live or work with a Rescuer. From our experience, the Rescuer is the most common role played-out inside the toxic DDT.

Over the next few weeks, we will describe in more detail several of the different ways the Rescuer takes on unique identities such as the Pleaser, Counselor, Protector and Crusader. In the meantime, notice when you play the Rescuer role. Slow down and know the world will go on even if you do not save it.