Fixing

Last night during my nightly phone conversation with CBG, he pointed out something interesting to me, something I hadn’t really thought about before. I am a “fixer”.

I was asking his advice about a certain situation where someone’s feelings have gotten hurt (several weeks ago). I learned about this through a third party, without being given a whole lot of details. Any hurt that was caused on my part was completely unintentional, and I had no idea, since the hurt individual really didn’t say anything to let me know how they felt (about what really should have been an innocent situation).

Upon learning about this person’s hurt feelings, my question became – do I get in touch with this person (who is not an active part of my life and someone I really don’t know all that well) to “make things right”? My instinct, in a situation like this, is to rush in and try to make everything all better.

CBG pointed out to me that’s what I often do – I  rush in, in an attempt to manage the situation and ensure that everyone is feeling okay….but that’s not always possible. It’s not my job to ensure that this person walks away feeling ok, particularly when they failed to communicate their hurt feelings to me directly. In the past, there have been times when I’ve made situations worse with my attempts to make everything “better”.

When I was growing up, the message I always given was that it’s important for everyone to like you. Even if that meant bending over backwards and compromising who I was as a person…being liked was more important than being true to yourself. It was more important that pretty much everything else. Well, you know what? I’ve lived that life. And it’s completely and utterly exhausting. I cannot please everyone all of the time…because there will always be people who dislike something about you. I’ve discovered that it’s way more important to be true to myself, and to be able to look myself in the eye every morning in that mirror than pretty much anything else.

In recent years I’ve experienced conflict with a number of people that I thought were friends. And by “conflict” I mean that they have made the choice to walk out of my life…but not before doing some very real damage before they did. People that I know now either actively dislike me at best…or downright hate me at worst. There’s something almost freeing about that…because it has allowed me to let go of this need to have everyone like me. I know for a fact that there’s nothing I can do that would redeem myself in the eyes of these people. This experience has taught me that some things I simply have to just let go.

It’s so tempting to try and manage how other people feel toward me, and the way they choose to interact with me. But that is something that is out of my realm of control. I can’t control the choices that other people make when dealing with me. If this person is still feeling hurt, then it is up to them to come to me to discuss it directly. If they do, I will take the opportunity to explain that any hurt caused was completely unintentional, and to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.  It’s difficult enough managing my own boundaries, I can’t try to manage everyone else’s as well.

I’ve decided to simply let things go with this person. As I said, they’re no longer an active part of my life, and I’m really not sure the level of hurt that they felt over this (seemingly) innocent comment, since it was filtered to me through a third party. If the hurt person ever brings it up to discuss directly, I will take that moment to apologize…but I won’t seek them out to do it. I’ll simply take the lessons I need to learn from this and attempt to do better in the future.

That’s all really any of us can do. We can’t control  other people – their thoughts, actions or reactions – but we can control those things in ourselves. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.

9 Responses

  1. Very true. Sometimes you just gotta look out for you. But I don’t think it makes you a bad person to want to fix things – the opposite in fact. I think it shows what a truly good person you are. And I can’t imagine anyone hating you?! They’re crazy.

  2. “being liked was more important than being true to yourself….”

    Giiiirrrrlllll, I lived this life my entire life and it is exhausting!

    My man is teaching me (and he says we’re teaching each other) to “allow” because we’re both “fixers” too. Whenever we make each other angry, the other asks about it, we admit our anger or irritation honestly, and then it’s either discussed or… we “allow” the other person to feel the feeling without interference. It’s tough because I want to make it better but you can’t force someone to stop feeling a certain way. We talk it through and then give space. And the feeling dissipates and all is well. So far, it’s worked wonders for us.

    Live and learn, right?

    • It’s hard sometimes to allow others to have their feelings…particularly when those feelings are about me. It’s tough just sitting back and accepting it and not doing anything about it.

      Its so good to have someone in our lives that helps us see things more clearly, isn’t it?

  3. I fall into this too – wanted to be liked and accepted by all, and it is exhausting and it is not always possible. I think your decision is the right one, and it’s so so hard to “re-train” you mind to do something different than your habitually used to doing (being the fixer).

    BTW, I read that as “naughty” phone call with CBG (my mind must be in the gutter…!) 😉

  4. I am a fixer too. On a huge level though. Like I like to help looser guys with no jobs live financially. I seem to keep getting pulled into this kind of thing. i need to remember that the worlds problems are not mine.
    Stay strong!

    • I think there’s a certain amount of power connected to being a fixer. It helps us to feel important and valuable.

      I hear ya, though, I tend to be attracted to people in trouble, too. And I’ve come to see that really, the only thing it does is make *me* crazy….

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