How To Stop Rescuing The People You Love And Start Supporting Them Instead
Do you find yourself taking responsibility for other people's happiness? It could be a partner, friend, family member, or even a colleague.
It's not at all uncommon to feel driven to please others in order to earn acceptance and approval. It's something that many of us learn in childhood.
The problem is that we can get mixed up between supporting someone and rescuing them.
Rescuing can become quite a habit. It can make life feel pretty demanding because we end up taking on far too much responsibility for other people’s happiness; often at the cost of our own.
To support someone means empowering them whilst holding true to your own sense of worth. It means setting good boundaries. .On the other hand, to rescue someone means you’re taking responsibility for them, regardless of your own needs.
The difference between being a rescuer and supporting someone.
To support someone means empowering them whilst holding true to your own sense of worth. It means setting good boundaries. It means letting a person know that you're right there by their side, supporting them as they learn to help themselves.
On the other hand, to rescue someone means you’re taking responsibility for them, regardless of your own needs. It doesn't help the other person to grow and gain their own confidence, and it takes away your confidence too because everything feels chaotic and a burden.
How to Tell if You're Being a Rescuer.
You can identify if you've been rescuing by looking at the following list. Do any of these seem familiar to you?
If you recognise yourself as a rescuer, don't worry - we all get caught up in this behaviour from time to time.
The trick is to recognise when you’re doing it. It can feel risky to hand back someone’s responsibility for their own life. You may worry how they’ll react when you start setting boundaries and saying no. But even if it means a period of discomfort, you'll find that your relationship greatly improves when you do so.
4 helpful tips to stop being a rescuer
1. Listen to their worries, without trying to fix it for them
One of the kindest things we can do for someone is to just listen to them. Quite often people need to offload their worries; they feel much better simply for doing that. If you rush in and “fix it” for them you're taking away their opportunity to learn and grow and gain 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 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 the supportive role immediately, because they're focusing on the other person being empowered – not on you doing it for them.
Remember that by encouraging someone to help themselves, you’re increasing their confidence in dealing with more than just the current issue; you’re helping them to feel confident about managing their future challenges too.
4. 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 this 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 become easier and happier.
And as always to my lovely community, much kind love 🙂
If this post means something to you - if you can identify with it in your life and you’d like to have a call in confidence with me about how I can help, please book a time here.