Savior Syndrome

Savior Syndrome

My daughter is quite an avid sports person. We spend a lot of time next to the field watching her play and observing her on field behavior. One thing I have noticed again and again is, that under pressure, she tends to go into some rescue mindset. She starts to run all over the court, trying to get all the balls and she seems less “together” – which is not what she is normally like. She is quite fit and exercise doesn’t really wear her out too much, but she starts to look tired and stressed.

We’ve discussed it with her so many times: “Sister, keep to your space, your position in front of the goal box – your job is to hit the ball into the box when your team mates passes it on to you. It is their job to pass the ball to you, and you need to be ready and alert enough to flick it in when it counts. You can’t be everywhere all the time.”

In trying to “rescue” the team when they are under pressure, she is clever enough to realize when the pace of the game is not going the way it should in order to win. But instead of focusing and playing a tighter game, she then starts to compromise herself by running after every ball, often bumping with one of her team mates in the process. Basically creating “friendly fire”!

I see the same playing out in her daily life – she is very quickly to take on the role of rescuer amongst her friends – often to her own detriment. She is 12 years old, so she is more likely not to understand the emotional reference. But I try to always explain emotional things to her, using sports examples so that she can better relate.

As adults we can also learn a lot from this example. Quite often we become exhausted from trying to rescue our friends and loved ones, especially when we anticipate (draw from previous experience) some hurt or danger ahead. In the process of trying to do “good” we quite often not only hurt ourselves but we hurt the ones we were trying to protect in the first place.

Even as parents, I see this pattern reflected in our daily conduct with her.  We always want what is best for our kids, often acting from a point of wanting to save them from the pain we experienced as a child. Quite often the action(s) we take to prevent pain, causes them pain and we end up creating a hurtful pattern by doing the opposite from what our parents did. I think they key in life is to develop discernment around when to step in, and when a 12 year old are not able to discern or help themselves. This I have found to be the hardest part of being a parent.

Truth be told, you are learning as a parent, just as much as they are learning as a child. You have, after all, been a parent for as long as they have been alive.

Cut yourself some slack, but also, carefully assess the root or driver behind the action you are taking.

It all boils down to the “Know Thyself” motto that have been at the center of all mystery traditions for centuries.

Love and Moonlight,


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