Ep #98: Rescuer’s Exhaustion
People often feel trapped by their commitments and feel that everything will come crumbling down if they slip up. One cause of this is rescuer’s exhaustion resulting from a person’s desire to solve other people’s problems for them. Letting others learn on their own benefits them and allows us to grow as people and as leaders.
What you’ll find in this episode:
- One common mistake people make that depletes themselves and others
- What you must do to grow as a leader and CEO
- How to look back on the year 2020
Featured on the Show and Other Notes:
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Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast. Running a million-dollar business is not easy. And whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now today to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Well, hi, how are you? Welcome to this week’s podcast. I’m pretty sure this podcast is coming out right around the beginning of the year, the week of the new year. So this is going to be a great week, I’m really looking forward to Saturday, January 2nd. I’m doing a virtual live retreat with all of the women who were early registrants into the How to CEO Program and the women who are continuing with me in the How to CEO Lab, which is… I’m just so lucky I get to work with so many great women.
So we’re going to have a really intimate several hours together, not so much setting new year’s resolutions, although if that’s what you do, get it. For me, it’s more pause and a time for reflection and just a opportunity to think. I think it’s fair to say that most of the women listening to this podcast don’t have a lot of time to think and so that’s why we love when other people create those experiences for us, because it’s somehow justified that I could do it if someone else has it planned and I’ve signed up for it then I have to show up. So I’m really looking forward to that, that’s going to be on the 2nd.
And I’m recording this just as I finished my first, How to CEO Program which has been tremendous and what a ride such a year to launch something new and then have my own personal health crisis and have all of these women rally around me who I intended also to support and rally them. So we’ve really had an incredible time and I’m actually overwhelmed by the response for the How to CEO Program starting in January. At this posting today we have over 650 people on the wait list for a lot less spots than that, so a 10th of it. And so if you are interested in the How to CEO Program I really want to encourage you to first of all be on the wait list and second of all make sure that if you want to do this you register as soon as we give you the opportunity to because there are a lot of people. First of all, I’m blown away by it, super excited. Enough of the details.
Here’s what I want to talk to you about. So we did finish How to CEO live this week. We have a couple of weeks of office hours left, but I was teaching the last module which is systems of freedom. And this was a term I coined a while ago to really help women think about what systems can you put in place in your life that by you grant you give you freedom? As women who are running companies and families and lives and everything else, there can be those moments where you feel very bound and very strapped by a lot of the commitments that you have, and we become overwhelmed very readily and so I wanted to really have that conversation.
What happened as a by-product of that is I started to just pay a lot of attention to one of the habits that I have and that I know my clients have. I saw myself through the eyes of a client last week when she said to me that she just could never look away. She felt like if she ever dropped the ball, if she ever took time off, if she ever released her grip it would all come crumbling down, and I think a lot of women feel that way. And I also recognize that a lot of women experiences in their personal lives too, not just in their businesses, like you’re the one holding it all together. Whether it’s your husband or your kids or your partner, your household, I know that’s an experience so many women encounter.
And so I texted my girlfriend last week and I said, “Okay, I have a new term and I’m calling it Rescuers Exhaustion. I was introduced to the Drama Triangle actually as a part of a therapeutic discussion with a therapist several years ago. And the Drama Triangle talks about that there are people who tend to be persecutors or bullies, victims are the woe is me people and then rescuers. And we can all play different roles in different relationships, but we tend to be attracted to one or the other as our modus operandi.
Rescuers are really the hero, they’re the one who comes in, they fix, they solve, they really do the emotional labor on behalf of someone else so they don’t have to do it. And oftentimes most of the time rescuers do so, they rescue prior to really being even asked to. And this I think is part of the issue that many of my clients, and I’m including myself in this experience. Because I believe as women, as matriarchs, whether you have children or not we still assume this role of caretaker and ensuring that the people around us are safe and held well and don’t suffer and don’t feel pain, and so we rescue. And every time we rescue, we deplete ourselves.
And what’s interesting is every time we rescue we deplete others. Because what we say to other people when we rescue is, “You are not capable, I don’t think you can do it. You need me to do this.” And so then we build that into the relationship and then we wonder why everybody comes to you for your answer. Everybody wants you, everybody wants you to make a decision. It’s because you always do, you always rescue. And then we become victims of our own rescuing, then we become burdened by other people’s demands that we rescue them.
And unfortunately, that cycle just perpetuates itself and so you just find yourself now not only making decisions for your family and your children and your spouse, but you’re also making them for your business and your team, and your employees. And that’s when I meet women and they’re just depleted. Like, “I can’t do this anymore.” And yet, how do you get out of it? And so the quick answer is, and I told my, How to CEO clients this yesterday. If there’s one thing I would ask you to do, because this is where women look at me like, oh.
In fact, I was coaching somebody on this and she had an employee who sent her an email that said, “Hey, I didn’t hear back from this person.” And of course, my client’s immediate response was, “Oh, well, here’s how to handle it and here’s the email to send,” and all of that. And so the way that we step out of rescue is we say that, “How do you want to handle it? How can I help you? How can I support you?” And if they tell you, “I don’t know. I don’t know how to handle it, I don’t know what I need. I don’t know.” How about we tell them, “It’s all right. Why don’t you think about it and let me know? Why don’t you take a crack at it and we’ll talk about it?”
That one simple response redirects the focus of the solution from you to them and it’s not that hard to do once you practice. This rescuers behavior is a habit and I know that many of you have it, you don’t even notice when you’re doing it. “Mom, where’s the minute? Mom, I can’t find my… I just have this morning. Where’s my black mask?” You have no idea, we have 5,000 masks in our house. And that really was my response. I’m like, “I got nothing. I got masks everywhere. Whereas the black one?” Couldn’t tell you. I used to go on a hunt with him for his masks, for his shoes, for his whatevers and I don’t anymore although occasionally I slip. So we just it’s so insidious we don’t even know that we’re doing it.
And so pay attention as you might be on a little bit of a holiday break with people in your life. Pay attention when you are with your team. Where are you fixing, solving, resolving, taking something on that you haven’t even been invited to, or B, you haven’t even given them the opportunity to speak up. I know I do this, I get it. And then the third question that I would invite you to really consider, so there’s really redirecting how do you think you can solve this? The second one is really just I paying attention, where am I stepping in? And the third one is to ask yourself what do you think is going to happen if you don’t rescue?
I just did it this morning, I rescued a circumstance, I rescued… Not a person I inserted myself thinking I was being helpful. And the reason I did it is because my thought was, “This is going to fail if I don’t do this.” Right. And it always comes back to that, some sort of failure, a client failure, an employee failure, a business failure, a child experiencing failure. My son lost his wallet and he’s supposed to come home for Christmas. And my immediate thought is, “You can’t get on a plane.” So I go into high gear. So what’s my thought? My thought is that would be horrible if he couldn’t come home, that would be so painful for him, which kicked me into solving the problem for him. But how did that help him? It didn’t.
When we’re honest with ourselves the reason that we’re so good at fixing and solving and rescuing is because we’ve fallen, we’ve failed, we know the stain. But when we rescue others we prevent them from that visceral knowing that is what really does create and foster resilience. Don’t rescue, teach. It’s a process says to teach people to trust themselves. I find myself more and more, practicing more and more, saying more and more. I trust you, I know you can figure this out. I have all the in the world that you have everything you need to know how to do this. Help me help you, like asking them to be very specific about what kind of support they need. “Can I help you think this through?” Versus just doing it.
It’s funny I know that many of you are attracted to this podcast because we talk also about very tactical approaches to leading and managing, but I also always want to emphasize that nothing I teach you tactically will work if you aren’t growing as a woman. You can’t expect to stay and keep all of the habits, even the ones that got you to where you are and expect to find ease and growth in who you are as a leader, that is an unreasonable expectation. That’s why I sprinkle these podcasts in around more of this sort of self-relationship and awareness, your mindset, all of it, because I know that is your cocktail. You have to do both, you have to look at your brain, look at your habits, look at where what’s gotten you to where you are and recognize how it’s not necessarily what’s going to be that takes you to the next level. And it certainly in many cases is not going to be what helps you excel as a CEO.
And I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, trust me, I do it every day. I’m surrounded by this everyday learning about myself and through the eyes of others. I hope that you appreciate… Appreciate is not the right word. I hope that what I say when I am talking more about you and what I know to be true in terms of some of the habits you have, you find them useful and actionable in a different kind of way. I always love to hear from you if you want to share a review on iTunes or if you want to send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you want to chat with me on Instagram you can share it in your story or it just DM me directly @krisplachycoach. I just know there’s thousands of you listening and I love to know who you are and what you do with a message you hear because I think that’s how this works, is we share what works and what doesn’t.
So as you embark on what we’re about to turn over the new leaf of a new year, 2021, who do you want to be next year? I feel like no matter what happened in 2020 whether you made cajillions of dollars or, man, you just got down to your last two pennies and you’re happy to cross the finish line, whether you got sick or you stayed healthy, whether you, Heaven forbid, lost loved ones because of this horrific pandemic or your family was unscathed. Whoever you are, there is no right or wrong way to have done this year. You did a beautiful job, and you did exactly what you knew to do and you managed it. And I think that in and of itself to be able to say, “This is what I did during the 100-year pandemic,” you’re a pretty bad ass hole. Give that to yourself as you go into 2021 and think about all that is yet to come, all the possibilities.
I said to someone yesterday, seriously, if we all made it through this, if we spend so much time being worried about losing money and losing clients and going back… People worry about this stuff. Come on, if you’ve still got a penny to your name and your roof over your head, listen, you did it. Take it, be proud, whatever your circumstance. I hope you give that to yourself and B, stop rescuing people, they’re capable. That’s my mantra. I will no longer make decisions for others that are capable of making them for themselves. A two-year-old isn’t probably capable but a 16 or 20-year-old might be and for sure a 45-year-old would be. So I’m going to let other people be in charge of their decisions, I’ll focus on mine. All right, I’ll talk to you soon, thanks for tuning in.
One more thing before you go, in a world of digital courses and online content, I like to work with my clients live because I know that when you have someone you can work with, ask questions of and meet with, you’re so much more likely to get the success that you want. So head on over to howtoceolive.com to learn more about our very exciting, very exclusive program just for female entrepreneurs. We’ll see you there.