Do you ever get stuck in the whirls of trying to “fix” everything? As a people-pleaser, it has long been my natural inclination to want to jump to the rescue and be the lifesaver. Whether it was seeing a solution to someone’s dilemma, playing referee to keep everyone happy, or feeling the burden of offending someone — the pleaser in me felt either morally responsible or thought everyone believed I was responsible for fixing everyone and everything. Talk about overwhelming.
For years I aimlessly tried to fix everything that went wrong. I beat my self up because I couldn’t seem to get control of the people and circumstances affecting my life. It was a huge ah-ha moment when I realized there was only one thing I was responsible for fixing — me.
Here are a few tips I found to help me look at my life in a new way. They’ve allowed me to adjust my perspective and focus.
Fixing versus Changing
When I think of the word fix — it reminds me of a band-aid. The dictionary uses words like to repair, mend, adjust, or rearrange. All make “fix” seem to be more of a temporary solution. Rather than fix, I realized it was more about change. I wanted a long term solution. I had to stop blaming my unhappiness and frustration on the circumstances in my life and start focusing on changing.
Change, on the other hand, is about making or becoming something different, being transformed. Now I’m not talking about losing your authenticity. This kind of change requires an in-depth look at how you want to show up and react when life happens. It takes the blame out of any circumstance allows you to identify what is really at the heart of your feelings.
I realized I could change how I showed up in my relationships. I could choose a new perspective to old situations, and be the kind of person I wanted to be. To look at circumstances with the type of attitude I wanted.
Change has been about learning to let go and take care of the only thing I can control. It requires me to be more mindful and intentional in my thoughts and understand how my thoughts affect my results.
Focus on “I am” Statements
A reader recently asked me about how to handle some difficult dynamics within her family. She was stuck in the specifics of trying to “fix” these temperamental relationships. Our dialogue went back and forth until she reached this final resolution. It was so perfect I wanted to share it with you today.
I think I need to work on my “I am” statements. I am allowed to make my own choices even if it disappoints, hurts, or angers others. I am allowed to make mistakes. I am allowed to change. I am allowed to choose which relationships are worth my investment. I am good. I am imperfect. I am loved. I am learning.”
I love these kinds of conversations. The ones where we ask the questions we wrestle with, discuss our attitudes and how they might need to change to engage in mutually beneficial relationships. I love these conversations because they help us grow into a better version of ourselves.
Leave the Responsibility Where It Belongs
The underlying principle here has to do with the difference between power and desire. We confuse our desire to make everything “all better” with the power or lack of power to fix it all. We can always ask to help, but the words “ought” or “should” suggest obligation and expectation rather than choice. The choice should remain with the one in need. Allowing others to choose how they would like help leaves the responsibility where it belongs.
Remember to stick to your boundaries, and only do what you feel comfortable doing. Don’t be afraid to decline with “I’m not in a position to do that right now, is there something else?” Be kind, gentle, respectful, and firm.
Our thoughts feed our feelings and emotions. Acknowledging our emotions as well as allowing others to figure it out what they feel is a delicate balance. It’s common to take our assumptions and apply them to what we think someone else should be feeling. Recognizing and acknowledging what we are feeling helps our overall well-being. Unresolved and suppressed negative emotions are proving to depress our immune system causing us to be vulnerable to a greater variety of diseases and physical ailments. (Lundberg, 34) Simply put, failing to acknowledge emotions complicates lives — mentally and physically.
When I know that I can handle anything because I”m willing to feel anything, my whole outlook on what I can do completely shifts.”
Life isn’t easy, but then I don’t know it was ever mean to be. As hard as it is, I know I would always choose to go through the hard, confusing process of figuring things out, asking questions, and getting help then relaxing into the comfort zone where life might be easy, but I would never grow.
Shifting my focus from fixing my life to changing myself is one of those uncomfortable but important life lessons. Real growth is about change and recognizing our strengths as well as our weaknesses.
It’s hard to let go of the things we want to fix in others. As a parent, it is easy to feel responsible for your children’s mistakes. Even as adult children we may feel an obligation to live up to our parent’s expectations. And the flaws of our spouse or close friends may be something we want to swoop in and fix, but the truth is we only have responsibility and power to fix our self. In all other aspects of life, we are only a supporting role.
In the comments share how you let go of “fixing” to embrace change. I’d love to hear from you.
Lundberg, Gary and Joy Saunders. I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better. p. xxiv. Las Vegas: Riverpark Pub. Co., 1995, xxiv.
Originally published at www.choosingwisdom.org.