For years, I would run toward people who I thought needed to be rescued, and there’s a part of me that still does.
However, there’s a huge difference between wanting to help or support people, and choosing to romantically engage when we are the “rescuer” and the other person is perceived as “wounded” or “broken.”
This is particularly prevalent when we repeatedly choose people who have emotional or mental issues, financial difficulties, addictions, depression, medical problems, dysfunctional families, or those who are in, or have been in, abusive relationships and haven’t healed.
The most ironic thing about this entire scenario is that whether we like to admit it or not, the rescuer versus wounded dynamic is generally destructive, and the person who actually needs rescuing is not the other person. It is, in fact, ourselves.
We are the ones who need to be rescued from the magnetic attraction we have toward those we deem as unstable or not completely “whole.” Despite this though, until we wake up to what’s going on, we focus most of our attention externally, so it is no wonder we keep repeating the same patterns and keep attracting similar partners over and again.
One major sign that someone is a rescuer is that they jump from relationship to relationship “fixing,” “mending,” and attempting to “heal” people, and when things either improve, or show absolutely no signs of change, they move on, feeling their work there is either complete, or that their time and energy was completely wasted.
Those who are rescuers are usually highly empathetic and compassionate, and feel turmoil and despair whenever they witness suffering. They desperately want to alleviate discomfort and heal painful emotional wounds, and they often believe that the only medicine that works is large doses of love.
To break the habit of rescuing others, the “rescuer” must first look deeply into why they feel so compelled to delve into other people’s pain, so that they can discover where their own emotional wounds are hidden.
For some of us, we may find that we are drawn to brokenness from being brought up in a family with someone who we wished we could help, but felt unequipped or powerless to at the time.
It may be that we experienced extreme trauma and there was no one there to be our “saviour,” so we cannot bear to see anyone else struggling on their own.
It is also possible that we have become so used to drama and turbulence that peace and harmony feel alien to us, and now we only feel at home when we are in the company of people who bring us turmoil.
We may see those who are “broken” as a reflection of our own “brokenness,” and their pain reminds us of our own pain. In a roundabout way, we may think that by loving and healing them, we will also find a way to love and heal ourselves.
We might even feel good about ourselves when helping those we perceive to be in need, especially if our help pays off and the person goes through an incredible transformation.
Another reason this pattern may continue is that we may be attracted to the challenge of changing the “bad guy/girl,” knowing that no one before us was successful. We may feel it proves how lovable and worthy we are if a person that others have found incredibly hard to “fix” is willing to go through a miraculous transformation just for us!
Whatever the reason for our addiction to those we see as broken, gentle meditation is a brilliant way of illuminating whatever pain we’ve unknowingly been attempting to suppress and deny. Unless we are willing to look inside and understand why we are behaving a certain way, we will continue to attract the same types of people and scenarios, so it is vital to make internal changes if we genuinely wish to move forward.
I have found that meditation is an extremely beneficial tool to use when we want to learn more about ourselves on a subconscious level and to find out what triggers us to behave in certain ways. Consciously, we may try to fool ourselves into believing that we don’t need healing, and that others are in much greater need, but our subconscious mind will usually tell a totally different story.
Here is a simple meditation I use to locate triggers that offers powerful inner healing:
When meditating, I always remind myself to be patient and not to expect that I will heal all my past wounds in one go. It has taken a long time to collate everything that is held inside, so it may take some time to heal and resolve some of those emotional injuries and issues.
Depending on how painful our past experiences have been, we may want to meditate in small 5 to 10 minute sessions, or whatever feels comfortable, so that we do not become overwhelmed with emotion.
Sit cross-legged with the spine straight, head slightly lowered, hands in front of the chest, palms lightly touching, and thumbs and little fingers connected. The middle finger will be in line with the Third Eye.
Inhale deeply through the nose, noticing the belly area expanding, and hold for approximately five seconds. As we inhale, we may feel the chest expanding slightly as this allows the heart area to open up and loving energy to circulate. Then slowly exhale through the mouth.
While inhaling and exhaling deeply, allow all thoughts in the mind to continue for a few moments. Notice which thoughts repeat continuously, then focus attention briefly on each thought, paying attention to it for a few moments. Acknowledge the associated feelings, and then envisage gently blowing them away. This helps to clear the random thoughts that can clutter up the mind when we begin to meditate.
As the mind calms and slows down, continue to breathe deeply. The reoccurring thoughts will settle too. Then allow the mind to freely wander while lightly focusing on the intention of the meditation, which is to unearth the root cause of our playing of the rescuer role.
As thoughts and past emotions emerge, we can pacify and soothe them by fully accepting and being supportive of whatever comes up, while offering an abundance of loving care. This helps to ensure we are not judgmental toward or embarrassed of our past memories. Every thought and emotion that arises is valid, so we can try to embrace what comes to the surface rather than being fearful and attempting to push it back down.
If possible, try to allow the mind to wander far enough to explore past dynamics where we have been in a position whereby we either wanted to rescue someone, or where we wished that someone was there to rescue us. If it is too emotional to do this, then softly pull thoughts back into the present moment and breathe deeply. Then, when it feels comfortable to do so, try again and attempt to locate what has caused this emotional wound to remain open.
It is perfectly okay to feel and express all the emotions that are associated with painful memories. The only way emotions can be released is through feeling into them and allowing them to be acknowledged, so that they can begin the dissipation and healing process.
When we are purging emotions, we should also be aware that we may feel a sense of associated anger or sadness. Certain things that happen to us aren’t always fair or right, and we may also feel sorrow or grief. Part of the healing journey is feeling the emotion in full and then letting go of any anger or resentment. We can do this by trying to forgive whoever it was that caused us to feel pain or heartache, especially if that person was ourselves. Letting go of pain is the only option if we truly want to move on from it.
Continue this process with all other thoughts and feelings that arise—allow them a few moments and then release them.
Meditation allows us to remain in the present moment, as much as we are able, while also exploring the past. When we are present there is minimal suffering. Whenever our minds look back or project forward, it is important to allow wandering to occur, and then, when it becomes too uncomfortable or painful, we gently bring our attention back to the current moment.
As we continue meditating, we will notice that we are able to release some of the anxiety and painful feelings that have been accompanying us. We can meditate for just a few minutes, or longer depending on how we feel. The more regularly we meditate, the more effective, and less painful, the practice will be.
We can carry out this simple meditation as often or as we feel called to.
Meditation is empowering as it allows us to take a few minutes for ourselves so that we regain control emotionally, physiologically, and mentally—and ultimately feel safe, relaxed, focused, and with a profound sense of inner peace.
Through meditation we can gain an understanding as to why we are thinking, feeling, or behaving in a particular way. Through processing our thoughts and emotions effectively, we become more rational, balanced, and emotionally intelligent, which helps us to work out how to let go of painful feelings. We can then let our emotions flow freely, rather than holding on to sensations that result in triggers or patterns that repeat on loop.
Even if we are not yet able to clearly recognise our past emotions in order to discern them effectively, just by observing and becoming aware that they exist alleviates associated emotional and physical discomfort—and our attachments to them.
Throughout this process, it is important to remember that relationships are never easy. They can be extremely difficult at times, and most people find them to be hard work. However, it is so much healthier for the heart and mind if our attraction is based on what we feel in the present moment, rather than what we are triggered to feel due to our wounded past.
Of course, we can continue seeing the potential in people, and waiting patiently for them to live up to our expectations of them, but, unless anyone is willing to work on and “fix” their own issues, the blunt truth is there isn’t a damn thing anyone else can do to help, regardless of how much love and understanding is thrown at the problem.
When we work on healing our past, we subsequently create a happier, more authentically loving present and future, one where we give ourselves the opportunity to be involved in a conscious, fulfilling relationship where there is open and mutual unconditional love.
When we heal our “rescuer” wound, it doesn’t mean we have to discard the people we have been attempting to rescue. It just means the dynamic will change and rather than us working on the other person, we will pay attention to working on ourselves.
The people around us will notice that our energy has shifted, and they may then choose to raise their own vibration to meet us where we are at. If not, the connections that are draining and unhealthy for us to be involved with will eventually drop away. When people are only interested in us if we are willing to do all their soul work for them, then the relationship will naturally wither. As difficult as that may be to accept, we will be far more content and at peace when we know that those we are in connection with are not staying solely because of what we are able to do for them.
We are all a little bit “broken,” and we all deserve love. There is so much beauty in our flaws and imperfections. Being in relationships with people who have emotional wounds can be absolutely wonderful, healing, and deeply fulfilling for both concerned. However, the relationship will only work long-term if both people are wiling to hold space, be vulnerable, and actively work together on their own growth so that they can co-create a harmonious bond.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Chermiti Mohamed/Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/eU6Ur-3g8R0
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton