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 and the police officer as the hoped-for Rescuer.
The phrase, “hoped-for Rescuer” has brought a smile to workshop participants over the years. Something about that clever phrase or feeling of self-righteousness and maybe even a touch of “revenge,” justifies our playing Victim and temporarily relieves our frustration.
The danger in looking for the “hoped-for Rescuer” is that you can get attached to playing the Victim and not realize it. If you continue to think about a hoped-for Rescuer, whether it is an impersonal situation such as the police officer, or a personal issue at work or home, it has the same disempowering effect as if you are actually seeking a Rescuer.
Fantasizing about the future, from winning the lottery to hoping for a new boss, are all various forms of looking for someone else or situation to relieve your suffering. If you look to others for ways of rescuing yourself, it is a sure sign you feel powerless and are in the Victim role, whether you want to admit it or not.
We all seek Rescuers at different times to reduce uncomfortable feelings. Why? Because human beings want pleasure more than pain and we fool ourselves to believe a short-term Rescuer is the answer.
Maybe an afternoon cookie is your Rescuer to relieve the stress you feel at work, or an extra glass of wine at night to “take the edge off” from your frustrations. In these situations, you are not just hoping for a Rescuer, you found one. But Rescuers are temporary and simply distract you from the stress or anxiousness you feel in the moment and perpetuate your feelings of victimization.
The hallmark of the Victim role is giving up responsibility for your response to life’s situations. From that orientation, a belief that life happens to you takes root. This can be a subtle message that runs in the background of your subconscious and many times you are not aware that this is your 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?”
“What thoughts will I shift to take responsibility for my thinking and let go of wanting others to Rescue me?”
It may be as simple as slowing down, changing lanes and sending thoughts of safety to those ahead.
(A timely note: With the recent hurricanes in the U.S. and other natural disasters in the world, we want to acknowledge that it is in life-threatening situations such as these that a “hoped-for Rescuer” is perfectly appropriate. We want to honor those first responders and neighbors-helping-neighbors who served as true, real-life Rescuers in such dire circumstances.)