Do you often feel a need to keep other people happy?
It’s not at all uncommon to feel driven to please others in order to earn acceptance and approval – This need to please is one of the four most common limiting-beliefs, I talk about in my book Out Of Fear Into Love: Life doesn’t have to be a struggle
When we’re driven to please, its easy to get mixed up between supporting others and rescuing them. Rescuing people can become quite a habit— it makes life pretty burdensome because we end up taking on far too much responsibility for other people’s happiness.
Support or Rescue?
To support someone means empowering them whilst holding true to our own sense of worth; it means helping another person to help themselves. To rescue, on the other hand, means rushing in and doing everything for that person, regardless of our own needs. And this, in the end, doesn’t help anyone.
The first step in making your relationships better, and making yourself happier, is to recognise when you’ve become caught up in the rescue habit. You can identify that by looking at the following list. Do any of these ring true for you?
- I can’t relax if someone else is unhappy
- I never have enough time and I feel resentful about that
- I’m taking all the responsibility to make a relationship work
- I find it difficult to say ‘No’
- I feel like I’m taken for granted
- I get caught in the middle and blamed for someone else’s issues
Ceasing to rescue someone doesn’t mean you have to turn away from them. It doesn’t make you selfish or an unkind person. It simply means you’re paying attention to your own needs as well as another person’s—it’s about finding a healthy balance.
5 helpful tips to stop rescuing and start supporting
Here are 5 helpful tips to stop rescuing and start supporting.
1. Offer to listen to a person’s worries without trying to fix it for them
One of the kindest things we can do for another human being is to listen to them. Quite often people need to offload their worries and feel much better simply for doing that. If you rush in and “fix it” for them you steal their opportunity to gain some self-confidence.
2. Ask them supportive questions
This takes a little practice. Just focus on what you would ask yourself in a difficult situation. These would be open questions such as I wonder if there’s a way round that? What can you do to make that better, easier, different? These types of questions can help a person feel truly supported yet able to think for themselves.
3.Offer them lots of validation and encouragement
You’re doing well, I have every faith in you, I’m so impressed by how you did that. These types of statements put you into supportive role immediately because they are focusing on the other person – not you helping them
4. Consider the bigger picture
Remember that by encouraging someone to help themselves, you’re increasing their confidence in dealing with more than the current issue; you’re helping them to feel confident about managing their future challenges too.
5. Take time
It’s so easy to rush in to help someone because it seems to save time. But a little patience now will pay dividends of time in the future as a person learns to be more independent of you.
If you recognise yourself as a rescuer, don’t worry – it’s a common habit. Just follow the steps above and you’ll find that your relationships will slowly become easier, your energy will get a boost and you’ll start to feel much happier.
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