Can you Resist the Fix?
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you
– Maya Angelou
When we are approached by friends, family, or colleagues with a problem we often feel bound to offer solutions. Sometimes we are so busy constructing our answers that we are not even actively listening.
The need to ‘fix’ things for others can be driven by a range of factors. Perhaps we were conditioned to move straight into problem solving having experienced parental approval for finding solutions.
Maybe we are emotionally attached to the one who is suffering and our quickly putting an end to their difficulties will restore not only their wellbeing but ours as a result.
Perhaps it feels good to be seen as knowledgeable, worldly, or empathic or we need to assume the identity of good friend or wise counsellor.
Maybe it feels as if they are approaching us with a need and we should fulfil it.
If we are honest, sometimes we feel triggered by the complaints of others because of the energy it might require from us to participate in the discussion, especially if it is a repeating pattern. We pre-empt it with our solutions.
Whatever drives our need to ‘fix’ things for others, we are making assumptions. We can only base those assumptions on the information that we have from our own conditioning, life experiences and genetic make-up. We all have our own unique lens through which we interpret everything that happens.
The truth is that we can never know what someone else needs, no matter how well we think we know them.
How often have you needed to rant about something that has annoyed or upset you only to find it being explained away by someone who is intent on fixing it.
Sometimes we just need to rant. We need to be witnessed.
There is usually no way for the person on the other end to know exactly what is expected of them and, with whatever is driving them, they undertake in a well-meaning way, to ‘fix’ us – and it triggers us because their intentions are not aligned with their responses.
It feels as if they are trying to stop us from expressing ourselves. It feels as if they are not listening.
As we have said many times before, when there is messy communication and misunderstanding, what we need is clarity.
In her book ‘Warrior Goddess Training’ HeatherAsh Amara introduces us to a tool which she refers to as a game. We have used it regularly in our meetings and with others.
Here are the rules:
Before you approach someone for a conversation, begin with one of three words:
The person on the receiving end should also know the rules.
If you open with ‘vent’ the other person knows that you need to be witnessed. To rant. They know that nothing is required of them other than to listen. This means that they do not need to put their energy into finding solutions or even providing comfort. They know this from the beginning, so they know how much of their energy to invest – no second guessing.
If you say ‘advice’ they know that what is needed is a discussion. That you welcome their opinion and that the problem can be worked through. You may also be asking for reassurance or approval, but the recipient knows that they are required to listen and respond with wisdom.
If you start with ‘share’ The recipient knows that you are approaching with news. This could be positive or negative and you are asking more of them than to be a witness. You are asking for an emotional response. It might be that you have won an award or experienced a loss or disappointment. There is no ‘fixing’ here. You are approaching them because their sharing in your fortunes is of value to you.
This ‘game’ is actually an incredibly valuable tool.
It removes the risk of misunderstanding and the need to guess what our friends, family or colleagues need from us when we are approached.
We can take this a step further when someone approaches us with a long and complex set of problems by kindly asking what it is that they need.
We will often find that they, themselves do not know, but by drawing attention to their unconscious intentions, we are encouraging them to make them conscious. We can offer the three alternative responses. Do you just need to vent? Or do you need me to do something about this? If so, what might that look like?
Aiming to be clear and aligned in our communications and seeking clarity from others helps us to conserve our energy so that we can choose use it consciously for the things that bring us balance, peace and joy.