As the holidays draw near, I want to offer you this reminder:
It’s not your responsibility to be the rescuer or the hero of your family & family unit group.
AND it’s okay to hand someone back their responsibility, say no and set meaningful boundaries.
I have lived both the trap of this pressure and narrative in the landscape of my life, as well as the freedom on the other side when you decide that being a rescuer or a hero is not who you truly are. I hope this episode I am re-releasing of the Live Your Freedom Now podcast meets you if you still feel caught here.
Sending you so much grace & personal power…
Let’s get started. In this episode, I explore:
- The Dominant Dogma of: “I need to be the rescuer and the hero.”
- Caretaking “hero” roles within the family and how it plays out in other areas of life
- The impact perfectionism has on you in the long-term
- How this gets you caught in prolonged Fight/Flight/Freeze coping mechanisms
- My own experience of surrendering my “hero” role and finding belonging just by being me
- The freedom of “I don’t have to rescue or be a hero to belong”
- Embracing who you truly are beyond the this role
- Gaining back power by handing back responsibility, saying no and setting meaningful boundaries
- How you can work with me closely through this process inside my group and one-on-one coaching space
Listen to the episode wherever you like to listen to your podcasts.
Hello hello, freethinkers! Today I am writing to you from my home office, my velvet green chair supporting me, and the bright summer sun is casting its wonderful glow into my space. My coffee and water are on the desk next to me, and my pup is settling in on the ground next to me.
As we begin today’s episode I encourage you to pause for just a moment and notice your surroundings. Notice the light, the shadows, the colors, the sounds, the weight of what is holding you. This is a practice of freedom, a practice of presence, and it’s a practice that no one can take away from you.
Today, I am going to talk about the Dominant Dogma that shares “You must rise to the occasion and rescue those around you…you must be the hero!”
This dogma is often, though not always, placed upon and wielded by the eldest sibling in a family unit, and then lived out in workplace and personal relationships as the individual grows up. Within immediate families, there are various roles that we play, and in essence this role of “hero” is one of perfectionism. You are and/or were expected to rise to every occasion to save the day, to take care of siblings when parents were unable, to always have the right answer, to know exactly how to “fix” a situation to make everyone “ok” again. You learned how to become part-time therapist, part-time activist, and part-time care-taker—to your friends, your siblings, and perhaps even your parents.
The roles you took on, including this role of the hero, often develop as a means to cope within your family unit as a child. It functions as an adaptive strategy so you can maintain a sense of internal balance and control. However, for the hero, this role also requires that you stay on top. There is this ever-present need for perfection, which results in an often consistent fear of failure. And while “perfection” may seem like a beneficial strategy in the short-term, it is only sustainable for a limited time, after which you will need to face your inner fears and perhaps bodily depletion.
In my own experience, I had to come face to face with this role following the dissolution of my marketing agency. After a strong track record of college achievement, marrying well, and starting a successful business, I plummeted. Throughout those years I had been slowly burning out, and the business dissolution was the proverbial nail in the coffin for my Hero role. I could no longer “make” anyone happy. I was unable to “fix” the problem. My competence was no longer able to function at extraction level status. As I lost my ability to play hero, those who relied on and expected me to play this role moved on to find someone else to fill this role. I was forced to admit defeat, meet my inner child and shadow face to face, and turn a new leaf. Despite my Hero role going to the grave kicking and screaming, it was in that death and dissolution where I discovered true freedom.
I want to discuss more of this freedom in a moment, but before we do, let’s explore the Hero role a bit more.
What I find most interesting about the Hero is how Dominant Dogma celebrates folks who have taken on this role. Supremacy culture teaches that “fixing” others, saving face, and maintaining control is how you attain success. It’s how you “earn” belonging. This adaptive strategy, which many of us (myself included) took on as children, became an ingrained and celebrated Dominant Dogma strategy as adults. But at what cost?
For the hero, it often results in an extended fight, flight, freeze, or fawn state as they consistently survey the horizon for threats to self and others. In preparation for these threats, the hero tends to have plans A, B, C, and D already laid out within their mind, just in case something goes wrong. The cost of being in that fight/flight/freeze/fawn state for an extended time takes a toll on the body long term. With cortisol levels elevated and adrenal glands consistently overworked, the hero may find themself navigating burnt-out, autoimmune diseases, and digestive issues. Everyone needs those times of action and forward movement, but it is crucial for the body to return to rest and digest. For some, in an effort to force themselves to a relaxed state where they “let go,” the hero may find themself trying to self-medicate, resulting higher risk of alcohol or drug abuse. While the Hero truly needs time to reconnect with their wild self, heal their inner wounds, and invite true and deep rest, hijacking their system can feel like the only accessible option forward.
This maladaptive coping strategy not only causes harm to the Hero, it also enables unhealthy behavior for those surrounding the hero. With a hero around, family members and close friends don’t need to clean up their messes nor come face to face with the lessons they are meant to learn in this life. This dynamic, cultivates codependency and a distorted view of how relationships should be. The hero feels it’s their responsibility to care for everyone else and their feelings, the family and close friends feel it’s the hero’s responsibility to care-take them and solve even the most minute of problems.
The Freedom on the other side:
True freedom is found in being seen as you really are. It’s allowing the fear, tending to your inner child, and coming home to the invitation of self-responsibility. It’s returning to your essence and trusting that you are already enough. You can still achieve, lead, and help others with consent and healthy boundaries. But it is not, and never has been your job to save everyone.
Love, you can simply be YOU. You can live your Freedom now.
In the coming weeks I am going to share practical ways to name the Dominant Dogma in your life and live your freedom now, but for today I also want to encourage you: If you identify with the Hero role and find yourself living out some of the patterns mentioned in today’s episode, a great place to start is to notice where in your life you can say, “no.” Where can you hand back responsibility to those who actually own it, so you can take responsibility for yourself. Perhaps you find yourself rushing to take care of friends in distress, instead of tending to your own nervous system after a hard day. Notice: Can I support my friend in a more aligned and life giving way? Instead of rushing to solve their problems, can I simply listen, and trust them to solve this on their own? Can I ask for reciprocal sharing so I can take up space for my difficult day as well instead of holding space for the both of us?
I encourage you to give yourself ample compassion on this journey knowing that there is no “right” answer, only your answer. Ask for help where you need it, and remember: you are whole, worthy, and enough, even when you can’t save ANYONE. You are worthy because you are.
As we close today’s episode, I’m so excited to let you know I have three Summer Coaching opportunities remaining!
If any of these inner narratives, emotions, or experiences sound familiar to you and you desire support as you hand back your hero role and pick up the wonderful role of being YOU, I would LOVE to invite you into a coaching series with me! I typically coach folks for a period of 3-6 month where we meet bi-weekly via zoom or phone call and in each call we may enter into any mix of honoring the past, tending to the present, and ultimately cultivate beautiful capacity within you so you can embrace your most free self and go after the goals you desire for yourself. My summer 2022 rates start at $1800 for 3 months, and I have pricing plans available upon request.
You can learn more about my 1:1 coaching and apply now at megscolleen.com!
All right, I’ll see you next week!
Freedom is yours,