A friend and colleague shared with 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, texts, 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.’ The epiphany I had was that I wanted to take care of people who hadn’t asked to be taken care of. This was a BIG lesson for me and helped me to see my rescuing tendencies.”
This story illustrates the Rescuing role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ that is hyper-sensitive to the needs of others and as a result, becomes unaware of their own needs. You may adopt the Rescuer role when you want to diffuse tension or conflict by reaching out to others. As a Rescuer you are willing to give up your own dignity in order to accommodate and please.
You may believe that you are being helpful as you chase others with your strong desire to stay in control of situations by being helpful. You enter the DDT through the Rescuer door, but discover that you are seen by others as a Persecutor, trying to do for them what is actually theirs to do. This can cause real confusion for Rescuers. Having convinced themselves that their benevolent desire to help is not valued, Rescuers feel victimized when others don’t appreciate their good deeds.
The most selfless thing you can do in life is to focus on who you are as a Creator. As you do that you will begin to see others as Creators and trust and appreciate them for who they are. You will marvel at your deep listening, which begins to arise because of your desire to deeply connect and listen to them. This is the journey away from the DDT, which allows you to enter the new and more positive triangle of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®.
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 are typical when in the Rescuing role.
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 dominant 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.