I'm a fixer. A Ms. Fix it. I like to fix things. Well, not really things. I have my husband to do that. But people and situations. Is being a fixer bad for us? Depends. Isn't fixing helping? Maybe. Confused? That's exactly how how I feel.
I don't think being a 'fixer" is bad. Generally, it stems from a intention to help. But sometimes fixing or helping can have both positive and negative results.
So how do you choose who needs fixing? How do you decide who needs your help, when to help, where to help and when to mind your own stinking business? I have no friggin idea. Sorry. We're you waiting for me to have the answer? (Refer to tip #5 below.) But what I can offer is the following 7 tips to help you figure it out for yourself. And yes, I am fully aware that the very nature of this list is me trying to fix you, the reader. What can I say? I am who I am.
7 Tips for a fixer:
Tip one: Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Life can be soft, calm, happy and peaceful. But it also can be messy, frustrating, loud, and yes pretty damn uncomfortable! You can't avoid it all. You can't fix it all. Breathe. Release and let go of what you can't control.
Tip two: Distinguish between being offered the job of fixer or just taking it on? Have you been hired or did you just show up on the doorstep dressed in coveralls and pick up truck full of tools?
Tip three: Realize that you can't fix everything. Some situations are beyond your control and expertise. Some fixing requires you to hire the professionals. Doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers, Bob Villa. Realize a bit of arrogance exist in us to think we can. Take a small step down off that high horse. But I get it. Sometimes we think if we just say the right words or do the right thing in just the right way we can make it better. If we give it our best effort we can make things right. But sometimes our best is just not enough and you are left feeling spent, utterly worn out and standing in a flooded bathroom. Decide if you can live with the problem as it is. If you can, let it be and move on. If you can't then distance yourself from it and hire it out to the pros.
Tip four: Understand that maybe, just maybe, it's not your place to step in. Sometimes the fairy tale happy ending is not for us to force. Maybe it will happen. Maybe it won't. Trust that things will unfold as they should.
Tip five: You can't please everyone so be ok with having to let people down by opting out of the fixing. Humans have expectations. It's in our DNA. We expect people to behave a certain way. To take on certain roles in our lives. Mothers should behave like this. Friends should do that for us. And when they don't live up to what we expect we feel let down. And when the boundaries and limitations we put in place for our own happiness collide with others expectations of us they are let down. Either way disappointment is the result. It happens. So be it.
Tip six: Be clear on the intent behind your fixing. What's your motive? Is it to make your life more comfortable? Is the fixing fulfilling some desperate need of yours to be needed? Or do you see a real danger ahead and are trying to protect someone? Pick it apart. Analyze it. Then, and only then, decide.
Tip seven: Determine the costs? What is the potential fallout of your fixing. Is a friendship at stake? A marriage? Your sanity? Are you willing to put everything on the line? Be aware that very often the fixer, whose intention was only to help, ends up looking like the bad guy. And how much of that time and energy spent fixing someone else is drawing away energy and well-being from you. Be ready and willing to accept the consequences.
After going through these tips only you can ultimately decide where and when to fix. My goal is not to come off cynical about helping those in need. We could use more of that in today's world and nothing can fulfill you more than giving of yourself to help out another. I am just speaking to those whose are playing out a pattern of behavior. I'm talking about the chronic peacekeepers, people pleasers and mediators. Your going to keep experiencing utter frustration, mental exhaustion and emotional turmoil as you struggle to find control over the uncontrollable.
Am I going to stop being a fixer? Probably not. It's part of who I am. I make a living out of fixing. I'm a yoga teacher. Students come in with broken bodies, minds and spirits. I share with them my tools so that they can begin to put themselves back together again. I'm comfortable with my fixer status. I know who I am and what my intentions are. I care. I want to see others happy. And I want to share what I've learned. But I am learning to discern where, when and for whom I choose pull out my pretty pink tool belt.