In a dysregulated family, the hero saves the day, which often needs saving. The child who takes on this role usually does it at a young age with realistic desperation and a sense of compulsion. They learn to cope with a lot and look like they are handling it fine. The hero role often persists into adulthood, and creates a recipe for exhaustion, resentment and burnout.
There are short-term incentives for the hero to keep taking on so much of a burden:
1) The Hero is needed and feels needed.
2) Things do get messy if the hero stops managing everything.
3) When they step down, not only do things go left untended, but people get mad and blame the hero for the mess. Their strategy has been successful for them, for a long time, too successful for them to retire without getting some serious pushback. The more burdens they have shouldered, the more resistance they get when they invite others to take more responsibility.
4) When the hero is not busy managing everything and things go wrong, the hero faces shame.
However, there are compelling arguments for dropping the hero stance:
1) Burn Out – eventually the hero gets seriously depleted and suffers health problems.
2) The hero stance robs others of opportunities for problem solving, for learning by their mistakes and for taking initiative.
3) The hero act fosters dependency in a hierarchical relationship. While the hero is coping, others can afford to shirk responsibility with plausible denial, and have little motivation to learn collaborative problem solving.
The hero habit feeds oppression.
So all you heroes, Back Off – at your own pace. When you do not face your shame, you cultivate hierarchy and block the development of the collaborative relationships that are our best antidote to oppressive dynamics and behavior. The more co-regulatory relationships you build, the less the appeal of the hero stance.