Boundaries and The Rescuer

If there’s one thing about healers and coaches that drives me nuts, I have to admit that it’s something I do myself.  Such is the shadow – we hate in others what we ourselves do. And what is it that I hate? Rescuing behaviour. Specifically when it’s the rescuer from the drama triangle.  What it means in terms of boundaries is that with the best of intentions to help someone, you trample over their boundaries. In other words, I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve trampled over others’ boundaries being a rescuer.  It also means I haven’t been true to my natural self. But spotting the hatred is a powerful first step to deeper healing and creating healthier boundaries.

A Quick Tour of the Drama Triangle

The drama triangle is a model of 3 roles that we can all end up playing in relationships with people around us and that we can even end up projecting onto life and the world too.  

The Rescuer – believes they’re good and helping

The Persecutor – believes they’re right and insists on rightness of their view

The Victim – believes they’re blameless and powerless and stuff keeps happening to them

Karpman’s Drama Triangle

All of us can spin through each of the roles and be a victim, rescuer and persecutor at different times in different situations.  The important thing is that when the drama triangle is active, there’s a power imbalance going on. When you seem to have no power, you’re playing the victim and when you seem to have power, you’re playing either the rescuer or persecutor.  For the ego, seeming to have power is a good place to be but really you want to get to a place beyond the power dynamics to where the heart and soul can show us we’re equals. 

For healers, it’s so important to be aware of the rescuer so that we’re not unconsciously forcing others to play the victim and keeping them stuck in their problems or attracting people who don’t really have any interest in taking back their power and really healing.  It’s important to check in and become aware when we’re forcing our own world view onto someone so it makes it too loud for them to tune into their own soul wisdom and guidance.  

The best healing happens when we have space to hear the soul and to connect with our own inner power.  And as Wayne Dyer taught, the soul’s theme song is “Don’t fence me in”. The soul craves the space to be free and expansive and to guide your daily actions through its subtle and quiet intuition.  The drama triangle creates too much noise to hear the soul.  

Underneath the Rescuer

While the rescuer seems nice and caring, it’s actually masking some inner problems and wounds.  You’re more interested in fixing the outside world of other people because it’s a distraction from the stuff inside that you don’t want to deal with yet, or simply aren’t ready to deal with yet.  And that’s where self-compassion comes in. I’m writing that as a reminder to myself too to remember that when I was more of a rescuer-healer, there was a gaping wound inside that I wasn’t yet ready to face.  I didn’t have the right tools, perspective, insights and support in place to be ready to go there.  

I also had a pattern of working with rescuer coaches (or sometime persecutor coaches!) who had their own fixed ideas about success and how to achieve it, so they didn’t listen much to what I needed or what my soul was saying.  Their noise and seeming confidence in the rightness of their methods drowned out my own intuition and soul wisdom. It was when I worked with a non-rescuer healer that I could actually heal the gaping wound inside.  I had the space for my soul to join with me and do the deep and difficult healing little by little. 

Beside the Rescuer

For me, I had this inner struggle going on around the rescuer because I knew that I wanted to move away from the rescuer dynamic and honour the self-healing abilities of my clients’ own souls.   But while I was still working with rescuers myself, the drama triangle dynamic was still going on in my subconscious mind. And that’s the tricky thing about the subconscious – we usually can’t directly see what its doing, we can only see the effects of what’s going on in it through problems we’re having.  My working with coaches and healers unconsciously stuck in the drama triangle was a direct reflection of my own unconscious stuckness in the drama triangle. And wherever the rescuer is, the other 2 roles are close by. I was being a victim and powerless because my power was locked inside a deep wound in my psyche that needed healing.   

Compassion for the rescuer part

My hatred for the rescuer role is a hatred for a piece of myself.  That hatred shows where I’m blocking love because any part of me that is rejected and hated is my shadow.  And if I hate it, I can’t connect with it and work with it. On top of that, it acts as a relationship block because what I’m judging in myself, I’m judging in others too and vice versa.  And that’s never comfortable to be around!

So my own task is to connect with the rescuer and take the bits of her that I do like and modify the bits I don’t.  Instead of completely disowning the rescuer, I can recognise the good intentions in being helpful. I can enhance that helpfulness by remembering to check in with my clients and people close to me and see if what I’m offering is really what they need.  Genuinely giving them the choice of whether to accept my help or not is a way to honour boundaries and honour the uniqueness of each life on earth.  

The Boundaries Checklist

If you like what you’ve read here, you might like to join my community. There’s a free boundaries checklist for you to check in with the kind of boundaries that support you in being who you naturally are. You’ll also receive my newsletter with emails to make you think and reflect as well as catch up on the latest news.

CLICK HERE to sign up and download your boundaries checklist.