Ever flinched when someone said they were just a born to help people and were constantly having to help this person or that?  Along with the flinch there’s a face, either a squinched trying not to do an eye roll even though you want to or the blank “non-expression” face that is hiding the startled surprise of “What??….” Yup, you’re not alone. This happens because the old adage is true: “Those who are don’t have to say it and those that say it aren’t.”  In this example the person isn’t actually a healer.  They are either an old fashioned busy body (what we would now call a social bully or controlling personality) or a fixer.

The busy body thinks their opinion is the right one, is right for everyone, and others are just incompetent or uninformed and so work to help correct all this.  While annoying, if pointed in the right direction they can be highly effective at getting things done because they don’t take no for an answer and like dripping water they will eventually wear away whatever resistance is in their path.  It’s pretty easy to see them a mile away as well. It’s harder to recognize the fixer.  Fixers aren’t loud, boisterous or espousing causes.  They aren’t trying to change people for the better, get into involved projects or be the center of attention.  Instead they are the peace makers and the arbiters of happiness.

Fixers seem like healers because they want everyone to be happy. When a situation occurs that causes someone to be unhappy they want to fix it. Good so far. It’s how they want to fix it or, really, what they want to fix that makes the difference.  A fixer’s interest begins and ends with the unhappiness in the moment.  If someone is feeling sad in the moment they will work wholeheartedly to help them feel better in the moment, but once they indicate that they are feeling better, the fixer is done.  There is no depth, no seeking for causes, no looking at bigger pictures or solutions to underlying issues.  Fixers want people to stop being anything but happy, and once happy is achieved any additional problems become out of sight out of mind.  While fixing things can be very helpful in the short-term, it can lead to additional hurts and problems in the long-term, causing issues to fester under the surface and causing trust issues between the fixer and those they attempt to fix.

What causes the most confusion for fixers and their fixees is that fixing seems to be a caring act.  It seems like a service, a gift, a blessing being offered to someone who is in need.  In actuality it is often a selfish act on the part of the fixer.  For a variety of reason the fixer is uncomfortable around the emotions, issues, difficulties being experienced and they need them to stop so they reach out to fix the problem.  In doing so they rebalance the world around them so it is comfortable for them.  This has a side effect of helping the fixee in the moment.  So when someone is offering to help and you feel that flinch, pay attention.  That flinch isn’t you being difficult, it’s you being perceptive.  Before you accept the help take a look at what is actually being offered.  It’s not that you shouldn’t accept it, but you should certainly know what you’re getting and why.