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 highway patrol officer around the bend, ready to turn their siren on and issue a costly speeding ticket.
We call our desire to see a police officer stop the careless driver our “Hoped-for Rescuer.” We hope for a Rescuer because we feel we are 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 officer as the Hoped-for Rescuer.
The Hoped-for Rescuer name has brought a smile to workshop participants over the years. Something about that clever phrase, or feeling of self-righteousness, or maybe even a touch of “revenge,” justifies our playing Victim and temporarily relieves our frustration.
This simple example may appear to be relatively trivial, given the many things that are happening in our world over which we feel powerless to directly do anything about. The news about another COVID surge, environmental disasters, earthquakes, and international conflicts evoke deep grief in us all. In many of these situations, we hope for someone or something to “save the day.”
In life-threatening situations, wanting a Hoped-for Rescuer is perfectly understandable, and we deeply extend gratitude to the first responders and neighbors-helping-neighbors who serve as Rescuers in dire circumstances. To us, this is less about being Rescuers and more about being Co-Creators in recovery.
However, the danger in looking for the Hoped-for Rescuer in everyday life is that you can get attached to playing the Victim and not realize it. Fantasizing about the future, whether it is winning the lottery to hoping for a new boss, are all forms of looking for something to relieve you of taking responsibility for your choices.
We all seek Rescuers at different times to reduce uncomfortable feelings. Why? Because human beings want pleasure more than pain and we fool ourselves into believing 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 your frustrations and disappointments. In these situations, you are not just hoping for a Rescuer, you found one. But such 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’s Challengers.
So, if you find yourself daydreaming about a Hoped-for Rescuer, that is a cue to pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself the following questions:
“Given the current situation, how do I choose to respond?”
“What thoughts can I shift to take responsibility for my thinking and let go of wanting others to Rescue me?”
“Is there a Baby Step I can take to influence the situation?”
In the example of the reckless driver, your actions may be as simple as slowing down, changing lanes, and sending thoughts of safety to those ahead.
We always have a choice. We may not like our choices and they may be narrow and few; however, we always have a choice about how we respond to life’s challenges—even those we cannot directly do anything about.