I’ll admit it, I have played the role of a “fixer”. If you ever watched the t.v. show The Blacklist, this role was known as “the cleaner”. Red would make a big mess, then this small unassuming looking woman (pictured above) would come in and clean up the whole bloody murder scene. She is small, but mighty!
For me, the fixing or cleaning kicks in when someone is unhappy, angry, disillusioned, feeling lower energy states either towards me or in general. I not only believe that I CAN fix it, it’s also my responsibility… because somehow, it’s my fault that they feel this way. This belief is limiting. Now! Let me be clear, it’s not limiting to have the belief and confidence that you CAN fix something for someone or to want to for that matter. The limiting part is in that last segment – that it’s my responsibility to fix it for them and that it is somehow my fault, even when it’s their stuff.
I read this AA quote that is so true – “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” It’s a recipe for a resentment to develop in us when we expect that we are responsible for how someone else feels, that we expect them to respond to our efforts. When we inevitably aren’t able to fix things for those we want so desperately to make happy, it sets us up to resent them. Fixing, repairing, negotiating and even fighting and defending in order for others to be happy, robs them of the experience they need to find their own power and how to access it. Our fixing intentions come from a wish to be loving, but the result is not what we intended. Not even close. Yes, we can indeed contribute to someone's happiness. We cannot be responsible for it. Our happiness is fully the responsibility of each of us. A choice we get to make.
Let’s say there is a beautiful vase that was given to you as a gift. You love it, you love the way you feel when you look at it, it actually causes you to want to up-level the rest of your environment because it is so amazingly beautiful to you. You have had it for maybe half your lifetime.
Then, some things happen that distract your gaze and you forget to appreciate the beauty of your gift and it accidentally falls from the shelf. There is some damage to it. The “fixer” will do whatever it takes to make it all better! It may have a slight chip in it, but you return it to the shelf and to appreciating it, enjoying it, loving it. All is well, you can relax when the vase is okay, safe from harm and repaired.
But these falls start to happen more frequently to the beautiful vase. They seem to be happening regularly. The Fixer will even abandon themselves and other things that matter to them and invest nearly all their attention into preserving the beautiful gift and trying to prevent the falls from happening. The vase is starting to look a little rough at this point! But it’s still so important to you, it’s made an amazing difference in your life and damaged or not – you still love it. You’ll “make it work.”
Then the big challenge comes. When the vase seems to have been almost intentionally broken. Someone was careless and while it seems as though it was salvageable up to this point, it now lays on the floor in a zillion broken shards. You can’t believe this has happened. It may even seem to you that someone picked up the damn thing and threw it against the wall on purpose. And it may seem that their view is that you left the vase in a vulnerable position ...and so you made them do it. Who broke the vase doesn’t really even matter to you at this point, although… you take on the responsibility for it, because you see its protection as your role.
Enter… what I’m calling “the fixers dilemma": you can’t fix this. You are powerless to make it all okay. Yet your identity, what you DO, is wrapped up in you fixing things! When you can’t – it challenges you deeply to find another part of yourself. Accepting that you can’t fix it, that you are powerless to fix it because you really don’t have power over other people and their choices – this is a ginormous challenge internally. (I speak from experience on this one.) It's super tempting to just ignore this invitation to dig deep and grow your self-acceptance muscle. This is the route many will choose. And that's okay. It's just not my path.
Being unable to make things okay puts the fixer smack in the face of the very thing she does all her fixing in an attempt to avoid – she is hoping to avoid feeling unloved, not accepted. Believing that if she can just make it okay for others, they will understand her, love her.
Now her fixing must be aimed inward, at herself, as she must learn to live with knowing that she has let some people down in life and that there are those who will even wish her ill will as a result. These may even be the very people that she loves with all her heart and soul. Yet here's the thing… this will happen even if she DOES fix the vase! No matter what we do, there will be those who judge us, blame us due to their own stuff and abandoning ourselves to try and avoid this leads to a shit-ton of suffering for everyone involved. We abandon ourselves when we let their low opinions of us – become our own opinions of us.
The beautiful vase is broken. She cannot fix it. No matter how much she has invested in it. No matter how hard she tries. Accepting these facts, is the work now. Finding her own inner “vase”, by holding space for herself is a key I think. Be with the feelings that you work so hard to avoid, Love them - yes, love those feelings that's why the have arrived. So you can make peace with them and let them pass through. While your inner “vase” may look a little dinged up, it has a light that cannot be extinguished. Look past the chips and dings and focus on the beauty that remains. It's in there among the shards.
Sandy Edie Hansen
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