I was in a meeting recently and one of my young friends heard me say that I created a twelve step program for Rescuers. He asked for a copy and I looked back at my first writing. I think I may have grown a bit since that 1987 version, so I offer the updated ongoing version in this post today. Enjoy and let me know what you think about it!
Rescuer’s Anonymous—a “tongue-in-cheek” twelve step recovery program for burnt-out capital R Rescuers, by Marjorie R. Barlow, Ph.D. (first written in 1987, revised in 2013).
I face it! I am powerless over an addictive urge to offer help whenever someone expresses a need, a want, or a negative feeling. I admit this addiction and also admit that, at that moment, my life is out of control and unmanageable.
I believe God is Love–the powerful Life Force that is Benevolent and Good. I further believe that this Life Force can restore me to sanity, helping me know when to offer help and when to withdraw or lovingly ignore someone else’s problem.
I choose to be mindful and aware of my Higher Self, making a firm decision to keep an open mind, open heart, and open will as I make my decisions regarding others who appear in Victim mode. I have also learned about the seductive power of the Victim role for a Rescuer. In the addiction to Rescuing, I “came alive” whenever I heard someone express a need! Rescuing can become a way to be in relationship. The roles are clear and well defined.
I take inventory daily of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I call this “Merciless Self-Awareness.”
I take full and complete responsibility for the creation of my own life. My Beliefs, Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors are my own. I admit to my self and my Higher Self the nature of my mistaken “rescue-itis” and I acknowledge my previous neurotic need for Victims. I humbly offer amends to anyone I might have harmed in the process of my past behavior.
I appeal to all that is High and Holy to remove these false beliefs. I am ready to live without the thrill or the trap of Rescuing. I can be in relationship with another person without falling into the trap of playing psychological games from the Persecutor, Rescuer, or Victim roles.
My personal test for this is: When tempted to help someone, I first ask myself if they have asked for my help. If the answer is no then, I listen and empathize ONLY. Second, I ask myself if this is something I really want to do and not something I think I should do. If it is a should, I refrain and continue to be an effective listener or I politely leave the conversation. Third, I ask myself if this is an imbalanced relationship. If I am in the helper role more than half the time, I question my motives. (Sometimes I help 90% but when the person gets back on their path, they are equal and can give back to me.) This is not really a scorekeeping, just a reminder of how I have been “used up” in the past. To the level that any of my motivation is a neurotic character defect born of the ego, I again apply merciless self-awareness. I am willing to face who really owns the problem.
Since I believe that my every thought is, in effect, a prayer, I humbly ask my Higher Nature to remove my shortcomings.
I do a life review, noticing where I might have harmed another person, keeping them in the Victim role. I pray for forgiveness. and, when it seems right to do, I talk with them about it.
When it seems right to do, I make direct amends in a conversation with my former Victims. I recognize that I may have Rescued at the social level but that I often felt tired and used up, therefore I was a Victim at the Psychological level. I further admit that I have thought many Persecutory thoughts about my Victims. I make amends only when it is not injurious to others.
In daily life, I continue to notice my actions, my thoughts, and my feelings, taking stock every day. I am the Author, the Actor, and the Audience of my Life Story. I daily compose the action and at night, I review what has transpired, gently moving toward the Authentic self I desire to be. Self Forgiveness, Self Love, Self Acceptance are the primary curriculum.
Through prayer and meditation, I seek to be in close contact with All That Is– my Higher Self. Meditating, Presencing, Imagining the Future that wants to emerge is my chosen pathway.
My own spiritual journey is an ever expanding, broadening spiral of consciousness. My addiction to Rescuing was in an ASLEEP state. I practice the principles of Awareness-Awakeness-Aliveness-Attracting-Allowing and pushing toward the edges of my Authentic Selfhood at every moment. To the level others seems interested in my journey, I share what I have learned.