The Rescuer’s Curse

We can’t save people from themselves. We can merely be an example of love, strength, and hope. They have to take responsibility for changing what doesn’t work. This can be a hard pill to swallow for any rescuer. Wanting to help others isn’t a bad thing, but we do need to check our intentions behind wanting to help people. If we are feeling depleted from trying to help others it could be because there is something we aren’t looking at inside ourselves. This is what I call the “Rescuer’s Curse”.

The Rescuer’s Curse is when we are helping others in an attempt to make ourselves feel worthy. When we are doing it for this reason, we get hurt often, become doormats, accept abuse, and may even become martyrs. This is not what we signed up for and we become so depleted that our worth actually drops even more.

I didn’t know that this was a form of codependency. I had never looked at this aspect of codependency before. I didn’t recognize that helping people to get approval and feel worthy was so unhealthy. When we seek value from an outside source it means there is a lot of work to do inside. This is the only way to heal from the Rescuer’s Curse. We attract what we put out there from the deepest parts of us. If we are attracting people who don’t want to help themselves we are a target because deep down we aren’t wanting to help ourselves. We look outside for someone to rescue us. Even if on the outside it looks like we are trying to help others.img_3485

We don’t consciously do this. There is no need to blame or take blame. If we have the Rescuer’s Curse we have to show ourselves compassion. Forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know and start working at how to build self-worth from the inside. When we do this, helping people actually becomes the reward that is was meant to be. We get to enjoy knowing we were an example of love, strength and hope. We stop doing things for people that they need to do for themselves to become healthy, we stop enabling. We start respecting their decisions they are making knowing it is their choice as a victim, villain, or hero of their own life. We all get to make that choice. When we find our self-worth from the inside, we are choosing to be our own heroes.

When we find our self-worth from the inside we don’t get lost in the outcome of the decisions other people make for their lives. We know that is their journey. We don’t let it destroy our worth because “we” couldn’t help them. The greatest reward from living life from this place is that we don’t feel depleted helping others. We can show love with our full heart and not expect anything in return. We stop becoming doormats because we are not doing for others what they need to be doing for themselves.


We start attracting people who actually want to help themselves and the ones that want to suck the life out of us just fall away. We feel lighter and healthier. This could hurt because we may have to grieve people we love. They may still be alive but we’ve realized they are not healthy in our lives. They have to come to a place where they value themselves so they will be capable of valuing the people who love them. We can’t make them do this. It is their choice. If we attempt to rescue them from themselves in order to gain their love, we will suffer the Rescuer’s Curse.

I am in recovery from the Rescuer’s Curse. I can slip, especially with my kids, but I’m aware when I slip and know the path to get back on track. Recovering from the curse is a process. Be gentle with yourself. If we are beating ourselves up and blaming ourselves for what we didn’t understand, we get trapped in the curse. I set myself free when I stopped blaming myself. I simply take responsibility for my mistakes and start making different choices if I didn’t like the outcome of the choices I made before. Good luck and best wishes to anyone on this journey.

With love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

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