Recovering from the Need-to-Please Pattern
Recovering from the “need-to-please” pattern can be a long journey and is deeply rooted in the Rescuer role of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT).
When your “go-to” role in the DDT is being the Rescuer, you easily take on being helpful and pleasing to others as a self-identify. Your focus is on the needs of others, rather than your own, which may cause you to neglect your legitimate needs and responsibilities.
By being overly focused on others, you tell yourself that you are just being kind. However, underneath that you may unconsciously be seeing the other as incapable of handling their own affairs. If you are stuck in the need-to-please pattern, you also hope that you will be loved for your helpful ways.
This way of relating to others disempowers them from taking responsibility for their own needs. Even if you don’t like the way others take care of their business, or the pace at which they are doing it, it is still ultimately their responsibility.
When you let go of the illusion that pleasing others will create the change you want—and get the love and recognition you want for yourself—you are creating a new path of taking care of yourself and what is yours to do.
If you identify with the pattern, you may already know the negative effects of being a “serial Rescuer.” Here are a few:
- You may think you are helping, but others may see you as intrusive and even as a Persecutor.
- You eventually feel like a Victim, when your helpful ways are snubbed, and/or you don’t get the love and appreciation you expected.
- Others don’t want to hurt your feelings, so you rarely get honest feedback that could support your growth.
- A craving for approval and feeling worthy can’t be satisfied by others, creating a chronic feeling of not enough.
It isn’t easy to tell yourself the truth about the negative effects of being the Rescuer because you say to yourself: “I am a helper, and this is who I am.” This is the story Rescuers tell themselves that keeps them stuck in the DDT.
Shifting into TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® offers another way to relate to yourself and life. It is possible to update your assumptions and understand that you can still support others as Co-Creators. Here are a few tips to making that shift happen:
- Learn to shift from Rescuer to Coach by asking more questions of others, rather than assuming you know what they want and need. Here are two: “Given the situation, how do you choose to respond?” “What is one thing you could do to move toward what you want?”
- Hold the silence and give others the time to ponder and gain insight into their needs and responsibilities. Learning to be comfortable with silence will set you on the path of recovery.
- Learn to ask for help or support. Most Rescuers have a tough time asking for support. The purpose is not to ask others to Rescue you. Instead, learning to ask for support is an important path on your recovery.
- Understand the importance of self-care, not as a journey or something to cross off your “to-do” list. Instead, make it a daily practice of acknowledging your needs and creating a clear intention to support and love yourself. This interrupts your constant focus on others.
Most people want to be helpful, and in turn, receive appreciation for their good deeds. This desire, if overused, may push you into the “need-to-please” pattern. Making the shift to Coach and practicing self-care will empower others—and yourself.