Do you have a savior complex? It is all too easy for us to fall into this line of thinking and become entrenched in trying to 'save' others in our lives. We can often find ourselves in situations that require us to be overly giving and make sacrifices we feel we should make without considering our own needs. The savior complex is a damaging mindset that can lead to resentment and unhealthy codependency. It is essential for our wellbeing and happiness to learn how to recognize signs of this pattern in order to rise above it and create healthier relationships with ourselves and those around us.
What is the Savior Complex?
When referring to the savior complex, we are generally talking about someone who is taking on a role of rescuer. They may be a caretaker or feel they need to prevent the other person from experiencing pain and struggle. People with the savior complex feel they need to strive to solve other people’s problems and take responsibility for their happiness. Though this might seem like an admirable characteristic, we cannot save anyone else, and it is setting us up for failure. It may make us feel needed, important and appreciated; however, it also creates an unbalanced power dynamic and is essentially an act of control.
Signs of the Savior Complex
It is important to be aware of any tendencies that signal the existence of a savior complex if you want to release yourself from it. Feelings of guilt may arise when unable to ‘save’ someone and ignore your own needs and problems. Ignoring danger signposts is another tell-tale sign of the savior complex, as well as a reluctance to express and accept anger that is directed at those you try to help. Frequently jumping into difficult situations believing you can fix them on your own, while disregarding the feelings of those involved, is another warning sign.
Identifying these behaviours and recognizing when they’re doing more harm than good is an important step in overcoming the savior complex. If you want to heal and strengthen your relationships, it is crucial to start by building healthy boundaries with yourself and those around you.
Dealing With the Savior Complex
The most crucial element to conquering the savior complex is to keep the focus on you. Ask yourself, “Am I taking responsibility for my own life and focusing on my part in any conflicts with other people?” First and foremost, begin reconnecting with and taking care of yourself. In order to be of service, you have to look after your own needs. This might include attending to your own mental, physical and spiritual health. Taking time for yourself and forming healthy rituals such as exercise, meditation and journaling can help support your own well-being and allow you to be mentally and emotionally resilient.
It is also beneficial to recognize the power of empathy and choose not to intervene on someone else’s behalf unless they’ve requested your assistance. Listen openly and carefully, but instead of jumping straight into action, provide care and love by offering kindness, support and recognition. Most importantly, remember that everyone’s life is ultimately in their own hands. Respect their decisions and choices even when you don’t agree.
Lastly, be clear about your intentions and consistently maintain your boundaries. Setting boundaries can prevent burnout and protect us from hurtful incidents. It is easier for us to be true to our values and stand our ground when our limitations are firmly set.
Though it can be hard to overcome patterns that have become entrenched, with mindfulness and dedication it is possible to rise above this thought process. Learning to practice self-responsibility, resist jumping in to save the day and balance our feelings of empathy with conscious acceptance is key. Even in the face of difficulty, we can still protect our mental and emotional health by setting boundaries and stepping away when necessary.