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Helping vs. Rescuing

Updated: Jul 3

Note: this article was originally developed for those working in the healing arts, but it has proven to be helpful for lots of folks, regardless of their line of work.

Many people struggle with helping versus rescuing. In particular, those who are Emotionally Sensitive and/or Spiritually Sensitive often default into rescuer mode. (It’s a type-based tendency. To find out what type of sensitive you are, take The Sensitivity Quiz.)

Here is a brief checklist for distinguishing your behaviors. If you see yourself in the Rescuer column, consider what you can do to shift yourself over into the corresponding Helper behavior.

If your life or job requires you to deal with a lot of people regularly, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Seek Inner Wisdom or Higher Self permission as to whether an appropriate healing response from you can be offered for the specific person, place, and time that is involved. Establish an appropriate exchange. If your higher self or the other person’s higher self indicates that either you or they are not in a space where an appropriate exchange is possible, warranted, or beneficial you must be willing to hear and say “No.” Honor the wisdom larger than your own need to serve or save.

  • Avoid burnout. Establish personal boundaries. Attend to maintaining them, regularly. Develop an awareness of your own needs—especially your need for rest, alone time, and personal regeneration. Self-renewal is mandatory. Cultivate a sensitivity for when you are being sucked in by the neediness of another. If your service is part of your job, re-evaluate your personal needs periodically. How much of a client load you can reasonably carry?

  • Always remember… You cannot change or help another unless they want to change or be helped. Healing and transformation must be a choice made by the client. Some clients choose (consciously or unconsciously) not to move beyond a particular karmic pattern. This is not to say you can never help them. However, when resistance is present, significant movement is thwarted. Transformation can only take place when the person desires and will allow the change to occur.

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