“You always just want to fix it.”
Has someone said these words to you?
People have certainly said it to me.
I used to think this was just a personality quirk.
In fact, if I’m honest, I thought it was a personality strength—“I’m one of the practical people…not just a mushy emotionalist who never gets anything done.”
But I’ve come to realize there is something much deeper going on when we go in to “fix it” mode with the people we love.
When we try to fix it, it’s because doing so is preferrable to the far more threatening experience of entering into the hurting emotional world of the person sharing with us.
For example: your spouse comes home from work and shares about an agonizing interaction with a colleague.
“Well, it sounds like you could solve that by…”
“That might not have happened if…”
You’re fixing it.
Because the alternative is to actually feel within yourself some of the turmoil your partner is feeling.
And this is your loved one. You care about them. Seeing them in pain is difficult.
Not just difficult for them.
Difficult for you.
And you don’t want to deal with difficult.
So you skip over the possibility of difficult, and just try to make the problem go away.
This tendency is not a character strength.
It’s a weakness.
Strong people are able enter into and endure the painful emotional world of others.
Strong people are able carry other’s burdens…not just solve them.
So the next time someone shares a challenging circumstance they’re facing, and you hear yourself suggesting a way to fix it…take a step back.
Realize you’re not really trying to help them.
You’re just trying to protect you.