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May 9, 2013

So You Like to Fix People?


Here's Why You Need to Stop


You know that part of you that wants to see the good in people? The rescuer? The one that sees the potential in dark places and the good intentions behind the bad decisions? You see people as puzzles just waiting for someone who has the patience to put them together. You are attracted to beautiful disasters. There's a 'fixer' in you that cannot leave a project untackled, whether it wants to be tackled or not.

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Have I hooked you yet, or am I just talking to myself? Hi, my name is GG and I am a recovering fixer/enabler. Let me explain how that works.

The Enabler. I've always been a comforter. Couldn't stand to have people around me who didn't feel at ease. So if getting high made them feel more comfortable -- so be it. If spending rent money on clothes temporarily made life feel livable -- okay, let's do it. Because I felt that if I needed a partner in crime for my own misguided escapades, I'd want the same understanding and cooperation.

The Fixer. I thought that love made people change. So even as I was enabling negative behavior by accepting it and partaking in it, I thought I was creating a bond that would somehow heal the person. I thought that since I could clearly see their problems, I could lead them to water and they'd gladly drink. All the while, I was actually hurting more than I was helping.

When you get caught up in enabling and fixing people, you're stunting their growth. You can't do the work for them and you certainly can't buffer them from the discomfort that's necessary for sustainable change to occur. You are setting yourself up for a world of conflict and frustration.

I get it. I've lived it. And gradually I'm learning how to be more discerning. If you have similar tendencies, consider the following ways to start supporting people (and yourself) more constructively.

{1} Don't fall in love with potential. If you choose to get involved with someone, be sure that you love what they are and not what they could be.

{2} Remember that love is honest. Don't deny yourself or someone else the gift of honesty because you're afraid that it will shake them up or make them uncomfortable. Growth requires truth.

{3} Let people evolve at their own pace. No one will change because of you. People grow, change, evolve when driven by their own conviction. Period. No matter how much they love you, they must be self-motivated.

{4} Don't compromise yourself. Set your boundaries. Love from a distance. Some parts of the journey must happen solo and without interference. You may feel guilty, it might hurt, but that doesn't mean it's not necessary.


What do you think? Have you ever tried to fix someone? How did that work out? Share your experience with us in the comments.

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