Acknowledging Our Pain
Rescuing the Rescuer
Sometimes the strong desire to help and rescue others is actually a call to help our own deep seated pain.
Some people seem called to help others, often from very early on in their childhoods,
responding to the needs of family members, strangers, or animals with a
selflessness that is impressive. Often, these people appear to have very
few needs of their own, and the focus of their lives is on rescuing, helping,
and healing others. While there are a few people who are truly able to sustain
this completely giving lifestyle, the vast majority has needs that lie beneath
the surface, unmet and often unseen. In these cases, their motivation to help
others may be an extension of a deep desire to heal a wounded part of themselves
that is starving for the kind of love and attention they dole out to those
around them on a daily basis. For any number of reasons, they are unable to give
themselves the love they need and so they give it to others. This does not
mean that they are not meant to be helping others, but it does mean that they
would do well to turn some of that helping energy within.
One problem with the rescuer model is that the individual can get stuck in the role,
always living in crisis mode at the expense of inner peace and personal growth.
Until the person resolves their own inner dramas, they play them out in their
relationships with others, drawn to those who need them and often unable
to acknowledge their own needs or get them met. In the worst-case scenario,
they enable the other person’s dilemma by not knowing when to stop playing the
rescuer and allow the person to figure it out on their own. However, if
the rescuer finds the strength to turn within and face the needy aspects of
their own psyche, he or she can become a model of empowerment and a true source
of healing in the world.
Some signs that you or someone you love may need
to rescue the rescuer within are inner burnout from over giving;
underlying resentment; an inability to admit to having needs of one’s own; and an
unwillingness to be vulnerable. Help comes when we allow ourselves to admit
we need it, acknowledging our humanity and our wholeness by acknowledging our
pain. The understanding we gain in the process will naturally inform and inspire
our ability to help those in need to do the same.
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