Why Being a Fixer is Actually Making Things Worse... And How To Stop
I have a habit of being a fixer. When something goes wrong, or causes unpleasantness, or weighs me or the ones I love down, I want to find the solution and get back to "normal" as quickly as possible.
I find a pleasure in making pain (whether mine or that of others) go away. On the other hand, I tend to freak out quite a bit when those I love experience pain and I can't do anything to make it go away.
I've been working on this aspect of myself, because I know it's holding me back in a lot of aspects of my life.
During a conversation with my good friend, Amber Rae, she not only crystalized how the "Fix It" mindset can be so damaging, but she also beautifully expressed a far better alternative to fixing everyone's problems all the time.
Here are Amber's words (which I've edited a little bit for the sake of clarity). They are being used with her permission:
"I have a tendency to want to fix things for people, which causes suffering on both ends. I've learned that what's even more powerful than fixing is holding space...
I'm learning this with Farhad (Amber's fiance) because when he's going throughs something, I want to fix it. Then I began to feel helpless because there was nothing I could do and I thought I was being a bad partner who could never be of service to Farhad. He never wanted me to solve anything for him. He is a brilliant problem solver. He wanted me to love him and hold safe space for him."
This conversation made me wonder how often I've smothered those I love with attempts to fix their problems when all they needed was for me to hold space for them to struggle, sort things out, and grow on their own.
What I've learned about myself over the last several months as I've become aware of, and observed this tendency to fix is that for a long time I told myself that I was doing the fixing to help others. It recently became clear that the real reason I fix is more selfish.
I am a fixer because I don't like being uncomfortable. If I can make problems go away (whether mine or others), then I can get back to living comfortably again.
I am a fixer because I've told myself the story that if you aren't happy when your with me then there must be a problem with me. I am not enough for you. I am afraid you will leave me if you are not happy when I'm near.
I fix to avoid confronting my own insecurities, and use the convenient alibi that it's really all about you.
My new goal for 2015 is not to solve the problems of the people that I love, but to hold space for them, and allow them to find their own answers. Rather than being the handyman, I will be the gardner who waits, and nourishes, an supports, and gives space for people around me to bloom.
Are you a fixer? How has this affected your relationships? What happens when you try to fix others or solve their problems for you?
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