Let’s agree to stop trying to fix people. It’s one of the greatest challenges for a Highly Sensitive Person~ learning how to stay in our own lane especially as it pertains to our loved ones. It can feel like a never-ending teaching, this concept of establishing firm boundaries. And what’s scary is that many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it until we explode the relationship or burn ourselves out. Being stuck in the archetype of the flaw fixer is a blueprint for a chronically dead battery.
This might be you if:
1.) Your mood is dependent on the moods around you. (This is a co-dependency pattern.)
2.) You have a hard time “being” with another person’s pain without trying desperately to make it go away (i.e. fix it). Sometimes what our child, or spouse, or best friend needs from us is nothing more than our presence, not our problem-solving skills.
3.) You secretly feel resentment that you constantly give and never receive. Because it’s ultimately our responsibility to moderate our own energy expenditure, and manage our needs– which means developing a habit of clearly and unapologetically stating them.
4.) Your internal measure of value and self-worth literally depends on whose problem you solved today. If we constantly swoop in to untie everyone else’s knots, we can erode a person’s problem solving skills. We can also send the unintentional message that we don’t believe in their ability to manage their own life.
As with any halting of a destructive pattern, the first step is to become conscious of it–to start looking for where you might be losing your boundaries and falling into the savior complex.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.) Does this person need professional assistance? Is there addiction involved? Does your loved one need regular psychological care? Do you need regular psychological care? Oftentimes an intense need to control and fix are symptoms of chronic anxiety.
2.) Can you train yourself to start focusing on what your loved one is doing right? Can you shift your perspective and see what they are actually teaching you about aspects of yourself you may need some healing around? Which very well may be boundary setting, and healthy detachment (= the art of untangling ourselves from the emotions of a person’s situation without ignoring or avoiding the person. It’s staying present without becoming enmeshed in their experience).
3.) Is it possible for you to see everyone else’s choices as a kind of divinely orchestrated blueprint for their soul’s highest good? The world is filled with people who have excelled in life despite going against their family’s plan for them. There are those who are literally designed to forge a new family contract, by choosing an unlikely new path.
4.) Can you practice the art of learning to comfort and reassure your loved ones from a place of empowerment-building, rather than problem solving? You can ask them the questions, “What are a few options for navigating this challenge? Would it help if you spoke them out loud?” And “How can I support you emotionally?” without swooping in to take on the problem.
The Long Road to Healthy Boundaries
…begins with self love.
And it begins with the understanding that it is not up to another person to reflect back to us what we feel we’re lacking (like comfort, or reassurance, or companionship, or pain-free living, or having every need met). Our children aren’t meant to be carbon copies of us. Our partners aren’t meant to be our entire universe. We cannot be all things to all people.
To reinforce your healthy boundaries, implement the following questions:
Q1: With any feelings of anxiety around another person’s life choices, or state of mind, ask yourself, “What is mine to control here? And what is not mine to control here?”
Q2: Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Does this emotion belong to me? Is it mine?”
Build the intuitive muscles by asking this question several times a day, even with emotions you know are yours. For example, I was sitting outside with Koda recently and he barked at a chickadee who came too close to his toy. I laughed at the adorable absurdity of that. I knew the joy of that moment was mine, but I asked anyway. “Does this joy belong to me?”
Of course the answer was Yes, but asking the question is how I become more and more fluent with my body’s language for Yes and No.
AS ALWAYS, please don’t hesitate to ask, in the comments, any questions this article may have triggered in you. I deeply appreciate any discussion that positively contributes to this community of Highly Sensitive Souls.
I love this! It’s so true. A friend used to tell me to stop picking up other people’s stuff. My life would be much more peaceful if I stuck to what is mine.
Kristy Sweetland says
Yes, wise words! How much lighter life could be if we all learned to master this. 🙂