5 Pitfalls to Being a Rescuer

Photo by simmich

I’m a rescuer. I want to jump in there and make everything right for everyone around me. I hate conflict and prefer sunshine. When there is conflict, I want to make it better. It’s not necessarily a bad quality totally, there are times when it is exactly what needs to be done.

Here’s the pitfalls (a pitfall is an unforeseen or unexpected difficulty or disaster – or a trap in the form of a concealed hole):

  1. Rescuing is close to enabling and most people know that enabling never helps at all. There are times when you are better off to stay out of the fray. It helps the other parties learn to resolve their own problems and develop solutions.
  2. When you are known as a rescuer and then deliberately try to stay out of a conflict, you will still get blamed. You’re the one who usually finds the solutions. But if you decide they should solve their own problems, those around you may be mad at you for not helping.
  3. Emotionally, rescuing is draining. You find yourself tired and out of energy or tired and out of focus even when you have work to be done. You find it hard to move out of a mood.
  4. Physically, rescuing takes a toll. You need to find outside sources for replenishment and soul restoring because the people you are rescuing will not do that for you. You need to take care of you.
  5. Financially, rescuing is a burden. When you either throw money you don’t necessarily have to help someone solve a problem or just can’t focus on doing your own work, you aren’t solving the problem at all.

Thoughts? Any other rescuers out there?


  1. Melissa Cooley on September 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Ah, yes. You know I am a fellow rescuer, Julie. I’ve known other rescuers, as well. It can be good, but it definitely has its dark side.

    One thing that I’ve noticed about rescuing is that it can sometimes mask what’s really happening with the rescuer. In other words, they keep getting into rescue mode so that they don’t have to deal with their own life issues.

    One person I knew who was a rescuer would keep going from one person to another, helping them; it was like he had a Superman complex. The need to be needed by other people was so bad that it ended up costing him a relationship.

    • Julie Walraven on September 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Very true, Melissa! I actually Googled the rescuer personality and read most of page one. Nothing compelling but it was in agreement with what you just said. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to step in and say “you think you are helping, but you are not… you are enabling! Do you know the difference?” Yes, someone did have that conversation a long time ago when he admitted that he too has a rescuing personality. But I need frequent reminders.

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