Have you ever experienced someone driving recklessly on the freeway, changing lanes and almost causing an accident? We have, and admit to hoping there’s a police officer around the bend, ready to turn their siren on and issue a costly speeding ticket.
David calls our desire to see a police officer stop the careless driver our “hoped-for Rescuer.” We hoped for a Rescuer, since we were personally powerless to do anything about the situation. Firmly in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™, in circumstances like this we react as a Victim, perceiving the reckless driver as a Persecutor to our desire for safe travel.
The phrase, “hoped-for Rescuer” has brought a smile of relief to workshop participants over the years. We experience a smug feeling – with a touch of revenge – that someone will pay for our victimized feelings. Something about that clever phrase or feeling of self-righteousness justifies our playing Victim and temporarily relieves our frustration.
The danger in looking for the “hoped-for Rescuer” is that we can get attached to playing the Victim role when experiencing life’s challenges.
We tend to hope for a Rescuer in impersonal situations like the speeding driver, knowing that we will probably never see him again. The hoped-for Rescuer remains in our thoughts – we are thinking about a Rescuer and their “getting what they deserve” — which has the same disempowering effect as if we are actually seeking a Rescuer.
Many people we coach tell us they spend a big part of their life fantasizing about the future Rescuer that will relieve their suffering. Doing so is another “hope-for” strategy that disempowers them and allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their thoughts and actions in the moment.
We all seek Rescuers at different times. Maybe an afternoon cookie to relieve feeling abused by a co-worker, is your go-to Rescuer. Or an extra glass of wine at night to numb you from your frustrations. You are not just hoping for a Rescuer, you actually temporarily found them.
In the case of the hoped-for Rescuer, you just think about – and hope for – someone or something to relieve your sense of victimization. Both situations disempower you from taking responsibility and choosing your response in the moment.
Whether seeking an immediate Rescuer or thinking and hoping for a Rescuer, either situation is a sure sign of feeling like a Victim. Feeling like a Victim, no matter the situation, can be habit-forming, even addicting.
The hallmark of the Victim role is giving up responsibility for our response to life’s situations. From that orientation, we believe that life happens to us. This can be a subtle message that runs in the background of our subconscious and many times we are not aware that this is our approach to life.
So, if you find yourself day-dreaming about a “hoped-for Rescuer,” that is a cue to pause, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Given the current situation, how do I choose to respond?” It may be as simple as slowing down, changing lanes and sending thoughts of safety to those ahead.