Do you always feel the need to save others because you believe no one else can?
Do you always want to save others even if doing so can cost you? Then I believe you have The Saviour Complex.
During the festive break, I was able to relax and do one of my favourite things; Watch Movies. In this particular movie I saw, the protagonist, a very talented football star displayed ‘saviour complex’.
He believed he was responsible for everyone, he was always “carrying everyone’s issues on his head”. He did this until he lost a huge scholarship opportunity and his entire football career might have been over.
The Saviour Complex can also called White Knight Syndrome. The “Saviour” always insists on helping others; they have this strong conviction that they know exactly how to solve someone’s problem even when such person has refused their help countless times.
To really ascertain if you are a White Knight, read on as I highlight some behavioural patterns below
- You constantly feel the urge to change people: As the saviour that you are, you believe that certain things about your friend, family or significant other needs to change for them to live a happier life. For example: you constantly press on them to change a specific behaviour about them, their diet, or even to explore a new career path.
- You’re attracted to vulnerable people or people who are dealing with a lot of troubles in their lives: You feel the need to take that pain away perhaps because you’ve experienced such before. So you know exactly how they need to overcome it.
- You make unnecessary sacrifices: You overstretch yourself and sacrifice your personal needs in order to take care of people who may not actually want this help. This sacrifice may be in form of your money, time, emotions etc. For instance; A friend is going through some emotional crisis and decides to stay indoors all day. Instead of understanding your friend’s decision. You instead drag him or her to go see a movie or play a game. Remember they have already stated clearly what they wants, but the Knight in you strongly believes spending time outside is just what they need.
- You always need to find a solution. You care about fixing the issue far more than the person dealing with the problem actually does.
- You believe that everyone you know has to “make it” or progress: Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to wish others well but not at the expense of your progress. For example, If you all wrote an entrance examination and someone in the group doesn’t pass. You begin to feel bad like there’s something you could have done to save him/her from failing. You might even decide that you want to stay back and help the person fix the issue by staying back and helping them study again.
The need to always rescue someone doesn’t usually end well. For example; that friend who wanted to stay indoors but was dragged out against their will, will begin to resent such friend because he or she doesn’t respect their decision, this can gradually begin to damage the friendship. Similarly, a person you’re trying to change will not change unless they really want to; even if they do change, it will be just for a while.
The White Knight Syndrome can have very negative implications on the individual as time progresses, these implications include:
- After using up all their energy and time helping others, they begin to feel this tiredness and emptiness from within.
- It can destroy relationships if not properly curbed. This is because people do not like to feel like broken things that needs fixing; like you do not like them exactly how they are.
- Due to the unending saviour fantasy, you find yourself trying to fix things that don’t need fixing, therefore failing at it. For everytime this happens you’re left feeling inadequate, frustrated, and like a failure. You might even eventually begin to feel depressed and resent these persons who don’t want your help.
If you have the saviour complex or know someone who does, you can overcome it or help them do by following the steps below:
- Listen, don’t act. Most times, people don’t need your help or advice when they tell you their issues. They just need someone to listen to them. So try to listen more instead of interrupting them with advice or solutions.
- Don’t forget that you only control yourself. You can’t control other people’s decisions, neither are you responsible for them.
- Don’t pressure them to accept your assistance. Instead, use words like “I’m always here for you”, “let me know if you need my help”.
- Look within and access your life. There could be some issues and past traumas that you’ve been ignoring or avoiding by trying to fix other people’s issues. Why not quit trying to save others and save yourself. Work on bettering your life instead.
- You can decide to see a therapist. If you’re not sure of how to deal with the saviour’s tendencies yourself, then a therapist is the best fit for you. He or she will offer you as much guidance as you need in dealing with your interpersonal issue. Don’t forget to be entirely honest with them.
In conclusion, If you have the need to constantly step in and save the day, try to understand that not every issue can be fixed immediately or at all.
Also, when a person needs help, they’ll definitely ask for it. Why not step back and wait for that to happen? If it doesn’t then they probably have it under control.
Thanks for reading!