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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Owning Our Rescuing

Most of us went to a professional Rescuing School to get a degree to "help others." We were taught well how to take responsibility for others, but were not taught to take care of ourselves. It is a difficult process to unlearn unproductive behaviors, but we must in order to be of true service. There is no real conflict between taking care of ourselves and taking care of others. We cannot begin to solve the problems of the world until we begin to put our own lives in order. We need to recognize our limits, remembering that before we can have compassion for others we must first have it for ourselves. It is usually not our efforts that burn us out, but our state of mind - our perception of who has the key to the truth of this pain, and who is most directly responsible for it.

Rescuing is doing something for someone that she needs to be doing for herself. Even if those we try to rescue don't realize it consciously, at a deeper level they know it, and will probably resent us for buying their "act" and seeing them as helpless and not-ok.

Often when identifying ourselves as Rescuers, our first reaction is one of upset. But awareness is a vital first step to changing self-defeating patterns. When we know where we are now, and are clear what we want from life, we can begin to move forward. Important components of self-responsibility are love and compassion. Without love and compassion for ourselves, energy that could go into pursuing wellness goes instead into blame and guilt maneuvers - the precursors of burnout.

Each of us is responsible for our own journey toward wellbeing. It is often difficult to allow others to unfold with their own process, in their own way and pace. We tend to think we have the answers. But to impose our solutions on them is an impediment to their growth and a negation of their response-ability.

We cannot judge others or presume to know what is right for them. Doing so is usually a projection of our own needs/shadow-side. We need to learn to love others unconditionally where they are - to hold them in our heart without wishing or willing anything in particular for them. We must trust in the purposefulness of their lives' journeys and honor the need for them to learn what they need to learn in their own way.

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