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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

How to fix another person

pointfingerDo you know people who believe that to help you means to fix you?  Are you one of those people?  In order to want to “fix” someone, we have to believe something is broken, and it’s very difficult to do this without believing that someone is flawed.  When you approach someone with solicitations of help, are you operating out of a misguided attempt to fix them?  If so, you will most likely bring more pain and conflict into your life as well as into the lives of those you are trying to help.

The fixer inevitably finds him or herself being misunderstood.  If you are the fixer, I’m sure your intentions are good; however, your efforts may not be quite appreciated by those you are trying to help.  There is a primary human nature law at work here.  People, in general, want their own free agency to decide who they want to be and what they want to do.  Any attempts at fixing someone else will be met with resistance, regardless of if our intentions are noble or not.

The best thing you can do to help someone else is to learn how to take care of and help yourself and to solve your own problems.  One of the areas you can work on is learning how to love another person with wisdom and without a critical or superior eye.  It is never a good place for you to be when you can see someone else’s problems and flaws more clearly than you can see your own.

Finding fault is really a product of fear, low self-worth, and anger.  We believe that by changing the other person we will eliminate the pain caused by our own negative emotions.  The end result of trying to fix someone else really causes further damage to the relationship.  To truly be of service to another person is to see beyond their fault to their need.  Many times we observe someone’s negative behavior without seeing beyond the behavior to the underlying need that is generating the behavior.  Rather than focusing on something within that other person that needs to be fixed, it is far more helpful and loving to focus on the person with love and acceptance.  We can become “safe people” around others, thus helping to create a healthy environment for people to feel safe in, so that they can face their own issues.

When we attempt to fix other people we do nothing to improve our own lives or the lives of those we are trying to fix.  Transformation in the lives of ourselves or others never occurs when we focus on what is wrong.  When people focus on their faults they never eliminate those faults.  When we focus on other people’s faults we become more critical, judgmental, and smug.  Our lives are influenced mostly by what we focus our attention on.  The best way to help others is by focusing on our own personal growth and self-care.  We are far more influential in helping others when we are accepting, encouraging, loving, and compassionate, rather than when we are fault-finding, condemning, smug and superior.

When we focus outside of ourselves for fulfillment we develop what’s called an external locus of control.  When we focus on fixing others, we are elevating ourselves at the expense of another, which gives us a false sense of security.  If you really want to help someone, begin by caring for the person and allowing him or her to feel safe with you while owning their own problem.  When you can offer a person caring acceptance they, in turn, will be open to seeing themselves for who they truly are without the need for defensiveness, denial, or cover-ups.  When people see us as critical and condemning they will feel ashamed and need to hide their flaws from our critical eye.  When people feel safe with us, with their flaws, they can begin the process of self-reflection, which is the best motivator for change.

Remember, the best way to help another person change is by who we are in the relationship.  Being influential in someone’s life involves encouragement, acceptance, teaching, role-modeling, conversations, listening, and sharing.  Being with someone in life is far more effective in helping that person than looking down at someone from a higher altitude of judgment.

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Reference:

Richards, J. (2001). How to Stop the Pain. New Kingsington, PA. Whitaker House

How to fix another person


APA Reference
Stines, S. (2016). How to fix another person. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 18, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2016/05/how-to-fix-another-person/