My friend, Lily, whom I’ve written about here, told me that she had arrived at a new relationship with her new boyfriend on a white horse. She was going to rescue him and clean up his life. And at the end of each day, she stood with her arms out, waiting for flowers or applause or at least appreciation for all that she did for him. Nada, lemonada! She ended up feeling burnt out, frustrated, resentful and anger for all that she was doing for him and getting nothing in return.
Well, she realized now she was suffering from Savior Behavior. She wanted to please the people, give advice, fix their problems, fill their needs – all so that they can turn around and say, “You are the most wonderful person in the world,” and fill the hole in her soul as well.
Are ya doing that? Are ya trying to fix someone else’s life because it will give you satisfaction, fill you up, allow you to avoid fixing your own?
Nobody can save someone else. Not a therapist, a spouse, a partner, a parent, a friend. That is an inside job. Lily offered suggestions but after two suggestions went unheeded, she might as well have talked to an olive tree, like the one pictured above. (See below on what hugging an olive tree might do for you, however.)
Tool for Tuesday: Drop the savior behavior. The only one we can save is ourselves. Minding our own business, we can be Zen about the art of fixing our own life. This doesn’t mean we can’t help the people we love, but we have to remember where they start and where we end.
Basia Trzetrzelewska wrote a great song, “Hug an Olive Tree.” Some of the lyrics:
“One day, while in the south of France,
My good friend said I should hug an olive tree,
She claimed that dreams come true when you do, but
Can a plant be in any way that beneficial to me?”
The song is highly recommended. As is the practice. Hug a tree today!