It’s Narcissist Friday!
It feels good to save the day. Mighty Mouse, the cartoon superhero, would fly up into the sky with the words, “Here I come to save the day!” Even a mouse can feel important when he is the hero.
Narcissists and other abusers know that you want to help people. They know that you feel good when you are the answer to someone’s prayers and hopes. So they will use that as a hook to manipulate you.
Years ago I interviewed for a church in Michigan. The congregation had a lot of problems. They brought us to the church, gave us the grand tour, and made a lot of promises. Then they sent us off with these words, “You are our last hope.” I was a new pastor, but those words terrified me. Somehow, I was able to feel the threat in them.
You are no one’s “last hope.” You might be able to help others in significant ways, but you do not want them to be dependent on you. Beware of those who look to you as a sort of savior, the answer to all their problems.
There are several kinds of abusers. Some are what we call “overt.” They are usually loud and control others by intimidation and power. Others we call “covert.” They are able to twist your heart until you find yourself controlled by their neediness. They seem to have no power but use others as tools with ease.
The covert abuser has just the kind of needs you will be tempted to fill. I have seen these folks take money, time, love, and loyalty with no scruples. They are users who have a different way of getting what they want.
And they will make you feel like you are their last hope, the answer to their prayers. They will overwhelm you with praise and gratitude—at first. After a short time, they become demanding and expect you to come running when they cry. You will find yourself drained and weakened, used up, by their constant expectations. All because you felt like you could save their day.
It is good to help people, but you must avoid the role of deliverer. There is one Deliverer, one Savior. The best you can do is turn people to Him. If you find them looking to you as the answer, rather than to Him, back away.
Obviously, some people cultivate the savior side of the relationship. They want to be the answer for others. That gives them control. But you don’t need to control others. You just want to be kind. So, set some limits and be willing to say no.
You are not the answer people need. No matter how good it feels, you cannot take on that role. It isn’t good for them and it will come back to bite you.