You have probably heard it, or even said it: “After all I have done for you…” How the sentence is completed may differ. It might be; “and this is how you treat me”, “and this is the thanks I get”, or “and now you are nowhere to be found.”
When this is our default role in the DDT (which it is for both of us!), our reactive strategies are to step in and help out or fix. At times, we see this pattern in both our marriage relationship as well as our work relationship. In working with others, we see the Rescuer role show up in family dynamics, in the workplace and even in communities.
Rescuers feel an obligation and urgency to change or fix, in their view, what is not going well. They often take on more work or duties, even when others are responsible or could do it themselves. Similar to Victims, they focus on what isn’t working so they always have a job to do or something to fix. By fixing and saving others, a Rescuer believes others will appreciate and value them for their good deeds.
Once the Rescuer spends considerable time and energy fixing the situation they assume they will receive appreciation and thanks. If this doesn’t happen, the Rescuer can feel persecuted by the lack of appreciation or no longer being needed by the other.
David often comments on how much he has seen this dynamic in organizations when managers assume the Rescuer role (or, at times, referring to it as “playing the Hero”). Meaning well, they step in to fix, or take over, or tell someone how to do something or what the solution to a challenge needs to be. They are surprised when the employee or associate reacts to them as a Persecutor instead, seeing them as micromanaging or meddling or not valuing their own ability to deal with the issue at hand.
The result, whether in a personal or professional setting, is the thought and feeling of “After all I have done for you…” Whether this statement is said out loud or not, doesn’t matter. The internal chatter is very real. The Rescuer, who may become the Persecutor in the eyes of others, feels victimized by not being appreciated.
A much more effective and, in the long run, satisfying way of being of support to others can be found in the TED* role of Coach, which is the antidote to the Rescuer. By helping the other think through options by asking questions and encouraging them, and by seeing them as a Creator who is capable of choosing their own actions and responses, we are facilitating their own growth and development.
Ironically, by supporting others in this way, we find others expressing appreciation for the help. And even if they don’t, we no longer have energy for the “After all I’ve done for you…” drama reaction.