We can’t fix other people. We’d love to, I know. We’d solve all the world’s problems if we could just make them do things our way. Right?
However, it’s becoming common knowledge today that you can’t fix other people. Not because they’re broken and hopeless, but because you’re not them and you don’t share the same operating system. It’s not as much an issue as we can’t, but we shouldn’t.
But…because other people impact our lives, we try.
I can attest because I’m a person who seems to need fixing. I lead a pretty unconventional life as a writer. I make choices that serve my craft, not the social norm and that sometimes gets me in sticky spots. On top of that, I’m introspective and sensitive. I tend to be pretty open and vulnerable these days. If I’m feeling challenged or surprised by something, I’ll probably share and that often elicits people’s advice and fixing measures.
I recently had a conversation with a friend, K., where I shared some of my fears about life in general as well as some recent discoveries I’d made about limiting beliefs I was still holding onto after all these years. Before I could even finish, K. was telling me how she approaches these things and how I should be able to do the same. She made it seem as if my fears were irrational and easily nixed with a positive attitude and tenacity. Essentially, I heard her saying that I should just “buck up, and get over it.”
Now, the problem with trying to fix someone (IMO) is that we can only speak to our own experience, and what worked for us probably isn’t going to work for another’s unique set of circumstances.
The differences in how we are raised, and all the stuff we’ve been through til now, have “everything” to do with how we interact with our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our world. Our past influences how we continue to “parent” ourselves now that we’re grown. We don’t get to ditch what we learned early on just because we grow up. Our conditioning continues to operate as a set of ingrained beliefs either positively or negatively. They shape our responses and the choices we make. In everything we do, we are either trying to prove our early experiences right, or wrong. We’re either following in our parents’ footsteps, or rebelling against nearly everything they said. It is with one of these two approaches, that we interact with the world, that we develop what we like to call logic, our way of thinking.
That’s why we just can’t fix other people.
It’s tempting to think that there is one central model of common sense, one that should allow us to tell people how things should be done, but there isn’t. Your way is yours, but it doesn’t work for everyone. You may find some people who think the way you do, but your way of thinking isn’t universal.
We all have our own pasts with specific challenges and things we need to integrate or overcome. We’re all doing the best we can to navigate this life given what we started with. So when someone’s way of doing things doesn’t match your own, even if they are struggling, it doesn’t mean they are broken or even need fixing.
So the next time someone shares their fears with you, try to realize that they are being vulnerable with you. They are showing you another side to being human that you might not know anything about. So try not to “hush” them with your logic. Instead, practice keeping quiet, listen and learn. Because if you don’t get where that person is coming from it means your advice won’t work with them anyway.
Just a little rant on what it feels like to be silenced and how we can all do better at embracing vulnerability. Share if you get where I’m coming from.
Thanks for reading,
Tracy – A Girl on Her Own