Are You Suffering from Savior Syndrome?

savior syndrome

by Nneka Kelly

When I worked for IBM, I was the go to fix it girl. A client would call to say that they installed everything correctly, but the software just isn’t working. My managers put me on a plane with strict instructions to stay on site until the problem is fixed. Over and over, I would save the day. It was a constant high.

Like any high, there was also a serious crash. I’d get back home exhausted. I got the at-a-girl, but after a while it wasn’t enough. It was empty. I fixed bigger and bigger things to feel the rush. The praise felt smaller and smaller. The overall satisfaction was diminishing.

The cycle continued until I burned out and quit abruptly.

Employers, family, and friends can spot someone with savior syndrome a mile away. Here’s what they say, “Find the busiest person and give it to them. They’ll get it done.”

And you will. Your reputation is riding on it. Your perception of yourself is riding on it. If you don’t do it, who will?

Don’t confuse savior syndrome for generosity and compassion!

We all want to be generous, kind, and compassionate. It’s who we are. Sometimes, it might require jumping in and taking the bull by the horns. Most times, most times it calls for empowerment.

We want to do a great job. However, doing a great job might look like teaching the client how to fix the problem and walking them through it, rather than pounding out the fix yourself.

We all want to help our families. However, helping our families could look like showing your brother how to budget, rather than sending a check every time a need arises.

Savior syndrome leads to martyrdom.

It feels really good to come in and save the day. The personal satisfaction of fixing something and helping someone is awesome. We feed off the accolades. We begin to feel worthy of the good life. We start feeling entitled. When we don’t get what we feel we deserve we start to feel resentful, angry, frustrated, and discouraged. Then we ge to whoa is me…

Savior syndrome jeopardizes your intrinsic value.

When you have savior syndrome you are constantly looking to the outer world to validate that you did a good job. You want people to recognize that you saved the day. You begin to think that they are the Source of your good. If they don’t recognize all the good you’ve done when you bent over backwards, who will? It starts toying with your sense of worthiness.

Savior syndrome robs other people of the opportunity to shine.

When you repeatedly come to someone’s rescue, you deny them the opportunity to grow. They never learn how to rescue themselves. They think that you are the Source of their good. They don’t look within to summon their own resources.

What’s the antidote for savior syndrome?

Ever heard the saying: Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life?

I enjoy teaching! I like finding more effective ways to teach. I like having more opportunities to teach. The best part is that I don’t have teach in a traditional sense. Sometimes, teaching involves letting a person fail and having them figure out how to fix it the problem on their own.

Everyone is capable of managing their life. They are competent. They have the same access to Knowledge, Love, Abundance, and Joy that you do. You are not the Source of anyone’s Well-Being.

I’m recovering from savior syndrome myself. I’m still inclined to jump in and fix a problem, rather than showing someone how to fix it themselves. I tell myself that it takes less time, and that if I do it myself then I know it’s done right. I’m robbing myself of my own resources and I’m not helping the other person to tap into theirs. It’s a work in progress.

Are you suffering from savior syndrome? What are you doing to empower the people around you?

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