Dear Friend Who Wants Who Wants to Fix Everything,
I know you’re a crafted fixer. I’m not talking about someone who is good with their hands. Who lives for Pinterest boards and HGTV marathons. What I’m referring to is that little personality quirk or nugget of idealism within your being that compels you to root for the underdog. To go the distance for people who are flailing and need a little bit of stability under their feet to allow them to move forward. Finding solutions is a fixer’s high.
How do I know you’re a fixer? Well, dear, it’s because I’m one too.
“Saving the world is great, but don’t forget that you’re part of it, too”. – Piper Punches
It started when I was in grade school. There was a little boy named Billy. He was a couple of years younger than me. Maybe he was in second grade. Maybe I was in fourth. I really don’t remember. What I do remember is that he wore glasses, was a little overweight, and had an unpleasant odor that permeated his skin, clothes, and hair. As you can imagine, these little things made him the target of not-so-subtle snickers and cruel words. During a bus ride home one afternoon, Billy decided he wanted to “fix” some things about himself to make kids like him more, and I jumped all over the challenge.
So, we developed a plan. He would shower more often and run around the paved area of the playground for the entirety of our 20-minute recess. Time blurs the memory, but I’m pretty sure it was only a matter of a day or two before Billy abandoned his idea of fixing himself and gave my personal development plan the middle finger. I’m also quite certain I took it very personally, too, because us fixers tend to do that. We have the best of intentions trying to help someone else, right? We also usually have a long line of people interested in that help because our personalities attract these lovely souls.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that us fixers secretly want to save the world and when this doesn’t happen, disappointment, sadness, and even bitterness invite themselves in for a lengthy stay in our hearts.
It can be lonely being the person with all the answers and I mean that with a hefty amount of sarcasm. We tend to focus on others because results are measurable; whereas looking inwards can leave us feeling a little lost and woolly. Seeing the progress – or lack, thereof – in others is easy to recognize. Noticing our own progress and identifying stumbling blocks gets a little harder because emotions get muddled and, if we’re being completely honest, we’re not very good at fixing ourselves.
Why can’t we open the doors to our own pain and struggles?
Several years ago, a friend and I met for coffee to catch up. She said something to me that struck a chord. Very matter-of-factly, and not incorrectly, she told me that I never share what’s bothering me. That I don’t let people get too close.
She wasn’t wrong.
Fixers, well, we don’t like to talk about ourselves. We don’t share our problems and we tend to downplay our worries because we don’t think they’re nearly as bad as others. It’s a form of humility that often backfires and snuffs out meaningful relationships. When we don’t open our hearts up for communication, people stop seeking us out as equals. We become givers and only givers. Those friends and family members who always seem to need a shoulder to cry on, well, they become unintentional takers.
As natural-born fixers, we have to let others into our circle of trust. If we don’t, we can easily end up feeling used and feel like there’s no one in our lives who truly care. That’s not the truth. There are plenty of people who care. Sometimes we just tend to shut them out and you can’t see through a solid, shut door.
We really need to release expectations . . .
Fixers always have solutions that we expect others to see with fresh, accepting, and wide-open eyes. When our suggestions are met with doubt or not taken seriously, it’s not uncommon for us to feel helpless, disillusioned, and angry. We damage our own helpful spirits because we have a hard time understanding the art of giving without expectation. Sometimes we take our role in fixing another person’s strife too seriously. Just being a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board may be all you need to do to “fix” the situation at that moment.
We need to give ourselves a break . . .
Set boundaries. I worked in social work for eight years. Boundaries is a word that I learned very quickly. Personal boundaries are blessings for you and the people in your life who need you the most. You can’t be a fixer 24/7. You can’t fix some situations or people. You. Just. Can’t. What you can do is nurture your well-being. Don’t let everyone else’s issues take center stage. Take time to focus on what you need to feel your best, mentally and physically.
My fixer friend(s), there’s a lot of pain in the world. Friends and family hurting for different reasons. It can become physically and mentally exhausting to always try to fix the problem. Being a fixer is not a negative personality trait. It’s honorable, but it’s also exhausting. Nurturing our souls is important for the full human experience. Saving the world is great, but don’t forget that you’re part of it, too.
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Piper Punches is an author of fiction and truth, tackling topics on social justice, mindful living, creativity, and the writing life. She is the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room, and the short story, Missing Girl. Her newest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series — Book 1) is currently available on Amazon. For a limited time, readers can sign up to get a free copy of Missing Girl here.