When you see a friend or a family member in trouble, do you feel the need to help? Do you do everything in your power to solve their problems for them? Does this take up so much of your time you no longer have time for yourself at the end of the day?
None of us like to see the people we care about suffer. But there’s a difference between wanting to help when we can and having a fixer mindset.
It’s important to know the difference because being a fixer can be harmful. It can hurt your relationships and your mental well-being.
What Is a “Fixer?”
A “fixer” is someone who, ultimately, doesn’t want the people they care about to feel any sort of pain or maybe even discomfort. If you’re a fixer, then you’ll do the best you can to solve others’ problems for them, sometimes even before they can fully form.
This starts with the best of intentions. After all, you’re just trying to help someone in need. But this can backfire. It can lead to bad results, both for you and the people you’re trying to help. Unfortunately, sometimes good intentions alone aren’t enough.
The “Need” to Fix Things
As a fixer, you feel the need to fix everything that might be wrong. You’re constantly fixing problems for others. This creates an expectation for both of you. They may turn to you every time they need help, even at your own cost. And you feel obligated to help out no matter what.
You can get so caught up in fixing other people’s problems that you forget about your needs. You might find it near impossible not to try and fix other people’s problems—sometimes when they don’t want you to. Before you jump into fixing things for someone, ask yourself, “Did this person actually ask for my help?” Sometimes people just want to vent, and that’s okay.
Being Under Pressure
If you fix others’ problems for them for long enough, there’s a chance you’ll feel taken for granted. They’ll start expecting you to do it all the time. And with those expectations comes a lot of pressure. Over time, this can breed resentment. However, because boundaries weren’t communicated, the other person may not be picking up on how stressful it ends up being for you.
Someone you care about has problems, they’ll come to you to fix it, and you’ll do it right away. Saying no may not even cross your mind.
Fixing your friends’ problems doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with your own. Life goes on. You add other people’s problems to your own. Suddenly, all you do is face problem after problem. You have no time for yourself at all. You don’t get to relax. You don’t get to do anything fun. You’re so busy making sure everyone else is having a good time that you forget to have fun too.
Life isn’t meant to be an endless list of problems to fix. There are many good moments in between these problems, but you don’t have time to seek them out. Your compassion for others ends up being another reason why you’re so stressed.
Quitting the “Fixer” Role
We all go through difficult times, and we need to learn how to fix our problems ourselves. It’s possible to stop being a fixer and to give the people you care about the opportunity to be more self-sufficient. It’s never too late to establish boundaries.
The instinct to protect the people you care about isn’t a bad thing inherently. It’s when it becomes emotionally draining that it’s a problem—a sign that boundaries need to be established. Counseling can help you address the need you feel to fix other people’s problems for them, from understanding where it comes from to how to free yourself from the role. Reach out today to learn how anxiety therapy can help you stop these tendencies.