Helping vs Rescuing: Avoid Anxiety by Learning the Difference

anxiety Jun 06, 2023
helping vs rescuing

When it comes to anxiety, there are external sources and our own inner thoughts. Both are powerful, but only one is something within our direct control.

At some point, most of my clients would like to have more control over their lives. Why? Because the illusion of control often makes us feel safe and secure. Not being able to control the actions of others can create an environment where expectations aren’t met and can leave you feeling disappointed, taken advantage of, and upset at the way things turned out.

Some of the most common causes of anxiety that empaths and highly sensitive people experience are feeling like they can’t help someone, they’ll disappoint someone they love, and they’ll be rejected as a result.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why these things seem so upsetting?

Last week’s blog post went over the 3 Brain Theory and how your survival and emotional brains are sources of anxiety based on the concepts of safety and belonging. Read it HERE 

If you consider that anxiety is really a symptom of fear, then being unloved and ending up alone are the worst-case scenarios for both the survival and emotional brains. To avoid these uncomfortable emotions, you might end up over-giving, people pleasing, and setting poor boundaries with your time, energy, and money. In other words, you could end up sacrificing too much of yourself!

To avoid overextending yourself and burning out, it’s important to know the difference between helping vs rescuing. To a loving, sensitive person, they may feel too much like the same. However, one protects your boundaries and the other ends up crossing not only yours, but the person you’re attempting to help.

Unless you’re a firefighter, lifeguard, or police officer, rescuing someone probably isn’t the best course of action. When empaths attempt a rescue, their heart is in the right place. They see a person who’s suffering and feel like they can help make it better. That’s very noble, but unfortunately, the other person may not want your help, be ready for your help, or you may not be the right person to help them with their situation. If so, then you can feel frustrated if you rescue them only to have them get in a similar situation later.

So, why does this happen?

Our mistakes and failures are really good teachers. When we don’t learn the lessons, we end up unconsciously seeking out similar situations. Thus, we repeat mistakes over and over.

If you rescue someone, you might be interrupting a life lesson in progress. In essence, you might be robbing someone of their lesson because you’re attempting a rescue instead of letting someone live their own life and make their own decisions.

I know that it can be hard to watch someone struggle. After all, it’s the number one reason empaths attempt a rescue mission in the first place! However, we all have challenges, and our actions can have positive or negative consequences. Either way, we learn something valuable.

When it comes to helping, that’s a completely different story!

Helping can be a positive healing force if you avoid people-pleasing and co-dependent territory. Allowing someone to make their own choices while offering your guidance and support can be very empowering. This makes you a safe space for someone to share their challenges with you without worrying about your judgment or interference in their actions. Also, you get to avoid the frustration if they don’t take your advice!

You can’t always control what people are going to do or how they’re going to act. The only thing we can control is our own behavior and thoughts at any given moment. It’s not selfish to practice good boundaries, self-care, and allow others to do what’s best for them even if you disagree with their choices. Knowing the difference between helping and rescuing can help you avoid guilt, resentment, and anxiety in the future.

If you need help setting better boundaries around rescuing, then book your consultation or appointment HERE.

April Darley is a Resilience Coach specializing in helping people release stress, anxiety, pain, and sabotaging behavior. Through the Three Brain Realignment Technique (TBRT), you'll learn how to step into your own power, comfortably deal with life's challenges, and stay calm and balanced. 

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