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