The Saviour Syndrome

Apparently my life is full of “themes” that seem to haunt me until I’ve understood the message or learned the lesson. Lately, the theme is the “saviour syndrome“. This is a name I invented for it, inspired by one of my favorite models in psychology, the “drama triangle“.  What do I mean when I say I’m “haunted” by a theme? It’s as if life really wants me to get that idea and keeps sending me people and situations that confront me with that particular topic, forcing me to wrap my mind (and heart) around it in as many ways as I need in order to really get the message. Lately, the topic of “saving” others has kept popping up in my life quite a lot. The “saviour syndrome” as I call it, is not about that altruistic impulse of saving someone’s life when they’re in danger, nor is it about helping others in general. When being helpful turns into a “syndrome”, it’s clear that you’ve started falling into a potentially harmful habit. In a world most of us consider full of selfishness and self-centeredness it’s amazing how many people fall under the other extreme – that of obsessing about helping all those close to them, making themselves responsible for everything and everybody and blaming themselves for everybody else’s misfortune or failure. I know a lot of people who have taken it upon themselves to help their children, spouse, friends, to guide them (even against those people’s will), to always do “what’s best” for them – even at the expense of their own happiness and, sometimes, even at the expense of the happiness of the very own people they are so hard trying to help. If you are still not sure of what I’m talking about, just think of yourself and all those close to you. You might just discover that you have at least one person around you who is manifesting symptoms of the “saviour syndrome”. Such symptoms may include: Excessive involvement in other...

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The Drama Triangle – Where We Run When We Hide From Ourselves

Why, when and how we hide from ourselves is a theme that has been on my mind for some time now. And, as it happens more and more often recently, just when I needed to understand more about this, synchronicity brought my way several people who gave me the opportunity to look in a “mirror”, confronting my own truths about running away from myself.  These were either people whom I had met recently or old friends who suddenly started a conversation about their fears of confronting themselves, thus prompting me to reflect on the topic. And since the Universe seems to be giving me so many opportunities to learn more about this, I thought I’d better share my thoughts with you all, just in case you too are preoccupied with this or simply have a valuable perspective on the subject. So…what’s going on with this idea of “hiding from yourself”?  Knowing yourself is a journey that might take you to some really dark and potentially threatening places. What we often do in life is that we tend to avoid going to those places. And we do that by hiding from ourselves. Hiding, denial, or running away seem to be strategies people tend to adopt whenever they are confronted with something that undermines their good opinions about themrselves or threatens to reveal some inner aspect that might render them vulnerable. Decisions such as leaving a job that no longer makes you happy, an abusive boss, an unproductive relationship – all these force you to confront your own fears. What I noticed is that, whenever they reach such crossroads in their lives, people tend to blame outside circumstances for their unhappiness, instead of confronting the truths that lie within. Many of you might have heard about a psychological concept called “The Drama Triangle” , which I also mentioned in a different post. It basically states there are three places where we tend to go when we run away and hide from ourselves – the role of the “persecutor“, the role of...

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The Quest For the Treasure Within

One of the reasons I love my training and coaching profession is that it gives me the chance to know people, to marvel at their thinking, to discover their motivations and to rejoice in their wonder as they discover themselves.  Although I think there is nothing more fascinating than other people’s minds, I sometimes can’t stop noticing that this very same fascination can turn to dread when faced with people whose thinking is more scary than captivating. The idea of this post came to me in a discussion with a participant in one of my seminars, let’s call him Robert, who worked in sales and thus had extensive experience with a wide variety of customers, with all their good and bad behaviors and reactions. We were discussing the issue of trust and finding the best in others, when Robert told me the story of the most awful sales meeting he had ever taken part in. During that meeting with the potential customer he was shocked at, what he believed, was an utter display of obtuse thinking and lack of manners on behalf of the client. “Why are some people so aggressive?” he wondered. “Why do they feel like displaying their power and influence and revel in treating others like a rug they can wipe their feet on without any trace of remorse?”.  “I had proposed to meet the client to sell him a new software system that would improve the efficiency of his team, but all he wanted was another method of control” he told me. “This guy”, he added, “was reveling in the fact that he always came up with some new way to make sure his team could take no step without him knowing it”. “He made his call center team take timed bathroom breaks, he timed their calls to the second and fined them if any call took longer than planned, and he organized all sorts of competitions for who got the best call indicators! No wonder people couldn’t care less about customer satisfaction...

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