The Accidental Mess-Maker
“When I try to Rescue people, I become the accidental mess-maker.”
That heartfelt admission came from a seasoned human resource professional during a recent online course. She had read The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) and wanted to learn more, so she registered for one of our online classes.
She paused after her announcement and continued: “I try to fix things, but I had no idea until I took this class that I make the mess worse.”
Her emotional insight is common, but not surprising. Well-intended people are often shocked to learn how their unhelpful intervening often makes things worse. They become sad, even heartbroken when they realize that their urge to step in and fix things can disempower others.
The urge to be helpful is buried deep in the Rescuer role. There are at least three core beliefs that explain the Rescuer’s obsession with trying to fix others and/or the situation.
Core Belief #1:
- When in the Rescuer role, the deep longing is that, by helping others, you will someday get your own needs met.
Rescuers are proud to be a helper and fixer of other people’s problems. Inwardly the Rescuer loves being a hero and believes this is the only way they will feel worthwhile as a human being. Eventually, others will love them for their good deeds and being so helpful. The ultimate fear is ending up alone and not being needed.
Core Belief #2:
- Rescuers believe that, ultimately, someone in the Victim mindset will learn to take responsibility for their own needs.
The Rescuer sees someone stuck in a Victim mindset as temporarily unable to take care of themselves, which justifies their intervention and can unknowingly create a cycle of disempowerment for the person in the Victim role. But why should the Victim take responsibility if the Rescuer is going to do it for them? The risk is, the more the Rescuer intervenes, the less accountable those in the Victim role will be for their own life.
Core Belief #3:
- Rescuers fail to recognize how they become a magnet for more people living from a Victim mindset.
When in the Rescuer role it is amazing how often you may attract needy people. The person playing the Victim role may say to you: “I really need your help because no one else can fix this like you can.” If this is music to your ears, you may become unconscious to how often you scan the environment looking for people who need your help. This explains why there are often people with a Victim mentality who become irresponsible and chronically disempowered with Rescuers surrounding them that feed their disempowerment.
When you relate to others through the TED* roles, you see everyone as a Creator—as being ultimately resourceful, capable, and whole. While lending a helping hand, you can do so based upon what the other tells you they need for themself, not what you decide for them.
As a Co-Creator, you value the right of others to choose their response to life’s challenges. You know that sometimes people stumble along the road of learning and growth—sometimes making messes. Slowing down and learning to pause, knowing the world will go on even if you are not rescuing it, can help you to transform your identity as a Rescuer.
If you observe yourself in the Rescuer role, check to see if one or more of the three core beliefs are operating in your life. If so, take note and allow yourself the compassion to understand the nature of the Rescuer role that takes root, from time to time, in all of us.