Don’t Play the Rescue Game!

Image from tamarika.typepad.com

I tried to carry you

And make you whole

But it was never enough

I must go

Lyrics from Watch Over You, Alter Bridge

Many of my friends and clients are kind-hearted and compassionate souls, who feel compelled to help people.  In fact many are healers, counsellors and lightworkers by trade. But no matter what occupation they are trained for, they have one thing in common – they care about others.

If you read my blog you’ll know I’m all for acts of compassion, kindness and humanity. We need each other in this life, and living from the heart helps us all to heal, change and grow.  Sometimes there won’t even be a thank you for an act of kindness or compassion, but that’s okay.  When we’re living life from our hearts, honouring our own values and heeding that call to help is all that matters.

Today, though, I want to talk about an insidious situation that can develop from an honest drive to help others. I like to call it ‘The Rescue Game, although it’s never a game the first time.  At least it won’t be for you…

Image from lovingyou.com

You’ll see a friend, family member or co-worker in distress.  Perhaps they will even seek you out.  You’ll notice that something is wrong, you’ll gently enquire, and then this person will pour their heart out to you.

You’re a fixer.  You’ll listen, and then you’ll try your best to help because this person has a fixable problem. You’ll offer advice.  Maybe even some assistance.  You might offer support, or hook this person up with other friends or colleagues who can provide some sort of help or guidance too.

The first time, it’s not a game.  At least to you.

The person you’re helping will appear genuine. They will tell you that things are terrible. They will tell you that they need your help to change.  And of course, because you have a kind heart, and helping is hard-wired into you, you will say ‘yes’.

So when does it turn into a game? Your gut will start to let you know. Pay attention.  You’ll get a niggling feeling of doubt, or frustration. No matter how much good guidance you’ve offered, no matter how much support you provide, there will be little evidence of any change in the situation.

Or you’ll find that the person has lurched from one disaster to another, one drama to another – and still they need your help.

They’ll be skilled at pulling on your heart-strings. They’ll cleverly call to all those hard-wired places in you that compel you to serve others, and to help where you can.

But be assured, my friend, that truly this IS a game.

You’re being played.

Perhaps this other person seeks attention, perhaps they thrive on the drama, or worse – they use this behaviour to get by in life.  For them it is a choice, or an ingrained pattern, to be an exploiter of the good nature, generosity and trusting kindness of others.

Image from suzieorman.com

They won’t respect your help, they won’t pay back loans when they say they will – and may even try to borrow more money.  They won’t look after the things you loan them, or will assume possession of them and never give them back.

They won’t be consistent with helping themselves.  In fact, they might never even take that first step.

And there will always be an excuse.  Or someone else to blame.

This is a dangerous game, this Rescue Game.  But the person in danger is you.

Don’t play the Rescue Game!  Keep your energy for the people who will genuinely benefit from your help. And don’t worry if you’ve somehow ended up as a player in this game unintentionally. You can step away at any time. The first time you help, you can never tell.  And how can you go against the hard-wiring of your soul?  But when this is a pattern, when there is no improvement despite your best efforts, when your gut is screaming that there’s something wrong, my advice to you is to disengage and walk away.

Live from love, and in that place of love, honour yourself first. Then help people who are ready and willing to help themselves. Everything else is just a massive waste of your time, energy and resources, and it may leave you so badly broken that you may no longer care to help others, even though this was your calling.

There is a freedom in disengaging from an exploitive situation. Maybe it’s time for you to rethink the help you give. Let go of the guilt, and that overblown sense of responsibility.  People who look for rescuers shall soon find another source of support.

Walking away from people who drain you gifts you back energy, positivity and hope.  And you’ll find that suddenly, you become magnetic to good relationships, new opportunities and inspiration. ♥ Bless xx

Image from tinybuddha.org

Other posts you may find helpful are:

Listen with your eyes…

How to deal with toxic people

When is it okay to break a promise?

Knowing when to walk away

30 thoughts on “Don’t Play the Rescue Game!

  1. Well this post opened up my eyes to a friend I have since drifted apart from, and in looking back it seemed that I was getting too wrapped up in the drama of her life, even though I don’t feel she intentionally dragged me into it. She and I shared such strong spiritual values for a time, but then something changed and I felt drained, just reading her e-mails. I felt my soul wanting me to let go, and that’s just what I did. I wish her blessings always but needed to cut those energetic cords with her – thanks for a great post and thanks for listening!

  2. Oh Nicole… My life story with my mother in a nutshell… I have recently walked away, and nearly lost my father because of it, because he can’t see that I’ve always been the rescuer (although he is one too). My counsellor and I have pretty much discussed what this post is about, and it’s a great confirmation that I’ve done the right thing. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had Mel C’s (from the Spice Girls) song “things will never be the same again” in my head for the last 24hrs with slightly adjusted lyrics by my subconscious! Instead of hearing “it’s just the beginning it’s not the end” I’m hearing “it’s not the beginning it’s just the end”. I have taken heed!

    Thankyou for your words of wisdom, once again they hit the right spot <3

  3. This post has a lot of great insights and wisdom. It’s something that has been on my mind a bit lately – at what point do you walk away? I’m going through a situation currently where I am feeling lost and bereft after ‘carrying’ someone through a lot of dramas. Giving 110% of myself. And now I have been dumped. It hurts, but it’s an opportunity to really look at myself and where I went wrong. Love to you Nicole!! ♥

    • IS it that you went wrong, Meg, or is it that your good nature was taken advantage of? Cut yourself a break, smile, hug someone you love, and turn your face towards tomorrow. Don’t look back! {{{HUGS}}} Much love to you xoxo

  4. I have the opposite problem and I am hoping you might write a kind of sequel about the other kind of rescue game. Let me explain: I know you know my situation but this is for any others who may have a similar predicament. I am in a state of prolonged grief due to my husband’s very slow deterioration with Parkinson’s, dementia and prostate cancer. He is now in a nursing home which has been heartbreaking for both of us. I feel I am dealing quite adequately with my grief and his but various of my friends and family keep trying to rescue me by lecturing me about getting out and about more, or platituding me about doing more for myself etc. It’s as if they need to be rescuers and I am the one being played. I have begun to dread the phone ringing. Don’t get me wrong – these are good, kind, well-meaning people but they are also interfering and coercive. I’m not sure if I have expressed this very well but hoping you will understand and have a bit of insight into this conundrum.

  5. Nicole, your posts are so full of wisdom, and give clarity and a name to situations. Your advice has validated my recent decision to cut ties with a relative who has spent a decade doing all the things you speak of in your article. These folk don’t want to know about the power of positive thinking or being able to manifest a better life because success and harmony don’t provide the capacity to gain mileage from others. Thank you for writing about this today.

    • You sure we’re not related? ;) sounds identical to someone in my family! I too have walked away and now provide bare minimal support. It’s hard but sometimes it must be done. All the best!

      • Thanks Jo, and good luck to you too. It’s definitely a personality type and it’s the good old light workers they home in on. We being “fixers” take a while to realise they aint into fixin! Mitch.

  6. OMG! This is an issue that rips my soul out!!!! I have friends that i give BLOOD to! I become THEM in essence … trying to fix all their new “adventures into hell”. I lose myself, and they keep sucking me dry. But i don’t realize it until i’ve been flattened: Deflated. Then if/when i realize i’ve been VAMPIRE-D, they feel betrayed by me. Course, when i’m at that level of rescuer (love image #1 GORGEOUS WOMAN) who wouldn’t feel DROPPED. I need to re-read the guidance you provide. XOXO melis

    • I’ve been where you are MANY times until I recognised the source of my behaviour. I always needed to save others because I needed to be needed. I never felt worthy of being alive – in fact I felt that I was a complete waste of oxygen and Earths’ resources – so I had to *earn* my place on the planet. It made me a sucker for this type, even though being played made me feel so horrible.

      When I consciously recognised why I was vulnerable to this type, I could consciously make the choice to deal with my perceptions. Then I could choose to use my energy towards creative opportunities or helping people that would also help themselves. I could also use the energy to help myself, which was probably the person who needed help most!

      Hopefully you can see the lessons in your “betrayals” and instead begin to use your helping energy to grow beautiful things in the world.

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