The Need to "Fix"


What is the need to “fix”?

  • Behavior to rescue or help another.
  • Desire to be there for someone in need
  • Believe you can do a better job or know more than the person who you are helping.
  • Inability to emotional detach from person or situation—you fix because the costs to YOU are too high not to.
  • Inability to accept people, places, or things the way they are and the chronic attempt at changing them even if they are unchangeable.
  • Inability to not give advice, suggestions, or offers of help, even when you know in doing so that it will hinder another person's growth and personal mastery in life.
  • Interfering in business and personal affairs "to help'' people even when they haven't asked for your help or assistance.
  • Drive to feel "needed'' or "wanted'' which leads you to become overly involved and over responsible in your relationships with persons, places, and things.

What are the potential negatives of “fixing”?

  • Others become dependent on you
  • The relationships are ones of inequality—you are helping someone you perceive to be not as strong as you
  • Fixing is judgmental—it requires you see another person as “broken” and in need of fixing.
  • Judgment creates distance, disconnection and seeing ourselves as somehow “different” from those we fix.
  • Helping or fixing incurs “debt”—you “owe” me.
  • Fixing is draining and depleting
  • Fixing is very concrete and specific—we help a particular person with a particular need
  • When we help or fix, we gravitate towards those that are weaker than we are—needier than we are—this inequality is felt and diminishes the others self-esteem.

How is the need to fix a control issue?

  • It puts the "locus of control'' into your hands as the fixer rather than into the hands of those being fixed where it correctly belongs.
  • Giving advice, offering solutions, and directing choices puts you in a "power'' and "controlling'' position over those things you are trying to fix.
  • The sense of over-responsibility which leads you to need to fix others is a "de-powering'' of the others to take responsibility for themselves; it puts the onus of accountability on you if the solutions do not succeed. It also puts the recognition for their success on you rather than on those you are fixing.
  • Those being "fixed'' often feel "out of control'' in terms of what is happening in their lives and can become dependent on you the fixer to "do for them'' rather than to "do for themselves.''
  • Although "fixing'' looks altruistic, it is really a sef-centered behavior because the outcome is not so much for the other's  benefit but to make you feel good, relaxed, at peace in that things are the way they "should be.'

How is “fixing” different from “serving”

  • Service is a relationship of equals—I am served as I am serving
  • When we serve—we trust the wholeness of the other—we respond and collaborate with others.
  • We serve life not because it is broken, but because it is holy (Mother Teresa)
  • When we serve, our service comes out of the wholeness of our lives—we give and receive at the same time
  • Service generates gratitude (from us and those we serve), service is sustaining and renewing.
  • In service, we know we are serving something greater than ourselves, not something less than ourselves.

Steps to overcome the "fixer" role

Step 1

List and identify all persons, places, and things with whom you are a “fixer.”

  • The people I feel a need to "fix'' are:
  • The places I feel a need to "fix'' are:
  • The things I feel a need to "fix'' are:

Step 2

For each person, place, or thing identify the following:

  • What are the issues that need fixing?
  • For whom are these issues a problem? Are they a problem for you, a problem for the other, or a problem for both of you?
  • How openly has the other admitted these issues are problems and how have they asked for your help to “fix” them?
  • How has the other tried to take steps to solve or “fix” these problems on their own? How successful have they been?

Step 3

You next need to identify what are the "hooks'' in your relationship with each person, place, or thing that keep you in your fixer role.

Emotional Hooks Self Assessment

  • Your sense of guilt if they should get worse
  • Your sense of over-responsibility
  • Your sense of obligation
  • Your fantasy of a change in the relationship
  • Fear of losing them
  • Your need to be needed
  • Your need to control others
  • Your need for approval and recognition
  • A martyr complex. This is your role in life to clean up the messes which others make in your life
  • A sense that they can't do it without you
  • Your inability to emotionally detach from others who are in a toxic relationship with you

Step 4

Once you identify the "hooks'' in the relationship with each person, place, and thing for whom you are a fixer, then you need to develop rational, healthy alternative beliefs which allow you to "let go'' of the need to "fix'' them.

We can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without helping or fixing…helping and fixing may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul. They may look similar if you’re watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different too.
— Rachel Remen