Tool For Tuesday: Drop the Savior Behavior.


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!

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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3 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: Drop the Savior Behavior.

  1. Another good reminder, Diana. And I’m still smiling at the two references to the olive tree. One about telling someone what to do is a useless as talking to an olive tree, and the other (I’m still smiling at this) singing the song “Hug an Olive Tree.”

  2. Find out the many things your kicks tell others about you. … When you put on a pair of limited edition Jordans, don’t go ask to borrow money. Just go sell your kicks, nice shoes with cheap price online.

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