You fix toasters, not people

“So, do you think I can fix him?” asked my client. Her tone was hopeful, eager.

Her face fell as I answered, “No, you can’t fix him. You can help, guide and point the way for him but only he can fix himself.”

It’s easy to fall into the quicksand of believing you can fix others. Perhaps your motivation is a sincere desire to help someone be their best. Or your interest might be at the other end of the continuum where your  “I can fix them” mentality is based in a desire to be the hero who saves the day. 

We fix cars or processes or machines. We don’t fix people; people fix themselves (if they want to be “fixed”).

So, how do you get to the sweet spot between caring too much and seeing yourself as the white knight?

5 ways to avoid “I’ll fix you” quicksand

Clear the way. Step in to provide resources and/or remove barriers. Assure that any instructions you’ve given are well-defined. Suggest places to find information and/or help:  people to talk to, books to read, web sites and apps to check out, etc. If you’ve done all this and there’s still no behavior change, you’ve done all that you can do.

Know your limits. If you’ve paved the way without seeing results, get clear:  you haven’t failed. Be objective — your role was  being the lighthouse. Others have to find their own way.

The great mind knows the power of gentleness… ~Robert Browning

Don’t be a control freak. Do you itch to fix people who aren’t doing things “your way?” News flash:  your way may not be the only way! There are many paths to the end goal. What’s right for others may be different than what’s right for you but that doesn’t make their way wrong.

We may convince others by our arguments, but we can only persuade them by their own. ~Joseph Joubert

Take a long look in the mirror. Sometimes your interest in fixing others stems from trying to hide your own feelings of being inadequate. Understand if your motives are rooted in a need to deflect your own inner questions about your own qualifications.

It is the nature of the ego to take, and the nature of the spirit to share. ~Proverb

Know what you want. Are you in it for “me” or for “you?” Helping people grow their abilities is an ongoing process, not a singular event, that’s focused on them. You want what’s best for them rather than angling to get yourself in the spotlight.

There are three kinds of givers — the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you? ~Unknown

Photo credit:  Zazzle



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