I am what I would call a "fixer". In other words, when I see someone facing a challenge, or going through a difficult period, my instinct is to jump in and try to fix the situation. Lucky for them (not really), I usually don’t even require an invitation to butt into their lives. I used to think this was one of my better qualities. If you think about it, who wouldn’t want someone in their life to take on their problems? The answer is…most people.
There are a few problems with my “fixing-fixation”. First, what I view as helping others may actually have more to do with me than with them. When I see people in challenging situations, I get uncomfortable and impatient. I just want the problem to go away quickly, so I start finding a solution. Secondly, and most importantly, inserting myself into another’s problem, when they haven’t asked for help, might just send a message that I don’t trust they can handle it themselves. While my intentions on the surface seem good, my lending a hand (fixing) may be a simple hand-out (quick solution), when all they really needed was a hand-up (encouragement).
I think that we are all fixers in some areas of our lives. Maybe it is with family or friends, co-workers, or people we manage. Nonetheless, we all face situations where fixing seems a lot easier, less time consuming, and less risky than letting the person find the solution themselves. The problem is that over time, these challenges can not only become too much for the fixer, but they can also create barriers for the other person to have the confidence that they can be successful on their own. While their immediate desire may be to pass their problem on to someone else and take a hand-out, what they will be most proud of in the end is the feeling they get when they’ve been given a hand-up so they can do it themselves.
Which do you feel better about, a hand-up or a hand-out?