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Here is a way you can tell if someone wants you to fix their problem or if they are looking for something else.
Are you someone who is prone to fixing problems? When people talk to you, is your immediate thought, “How can I help fix this?” When someone talks to you about a problem they are having, do you immediately start to give them possible solutions? Do you feel this is a trait only men exhibit?
Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have the tendency to be a fixer, the next time someone talks to you about a problem or an issue, I invite you to try something different. Before saying anything, pause, think, and listen to everything they have to say. Do your best to understand them and experience authentic empathy for them without saying a word. Then, summarize what you believe you heard and repeat it back to them.
Start by saying, “Here’s what I think you are going through.” Then say, “Do I understand you correctly?” When they say yes, ask them a simple question, “Do you just want me to listen to you, understand you and have authentic empathy for you or do you want me to help you fix things?” If they want your help, they will be more open to accepting it. If they are just looking to talk, they will have a deeper level of appreciation for you. They will also see, hear, and feel that you both understand them and have authentic empathy for them.
Many times, people who are struggling do not need you to fix their problems, they need you to hear, understand and have authentic empathy for them.
How this applies to fear…
When it comes to fear and being prone to fixing problems, if we have experiences that we know can help people and do not share them, many of us are afraid that we will be blamed for not helping them. This fear leads us to jump right in and give solutions or advice when we see someone has a problem. The way to overcome that fear is by asking the person what they want. That way, you let them know you care for them and that you have a suggestion or solution. They can then take responsibility for accepting it or not.
How this applies to authentic empathy…
When it comes to authentic empathy and being prone to fixing problems, to increase your authentic empathy for someone, I invite you to overcome your desire to fix everything. When you ask a person if they want you to offer them solutions or if they want you to listen, you are showing that person that your goal is to experience authentic empathy for them. You are doing this by giving them what they feel they need rather than what you feel is best for them.
How this applies to WACASHWI…
When it comes to WACASHWI and being prone to fixing problems, automatically trying to fix a problem when all a person wants is for you to listen is something that can easily derail you during the WACASHWI process. As you are working through things, life still goes on. People will talk to you about things that are not on your list. When your immediate reaction is to try and solve their problems, you take time away from your goals and your process without thinking. When you ask them what they would prefer and they tell you they want help fixing something, then you can make an informed decision. You can decide if helping them aligns with your current goals or if you need to steer them in a different direction. You can also look at your list to determine what, if anything, needs to be removed. The other advantage to doing this is that it prevents resentments from building. While we may always want to help, when we help others at the expense of ourselves without thinking, resentments towards that person and frustration towards ourselves will build up and have a negative effect on both us and them.
Your daily invitations…
- I invite you to think about the last time someone brought you a problem and you immediately tried to fix it.
- I invite you to consider the effects (both positive and negative) of your experiences when trying to jump right in and fix the issue the person was having.
- I invite you to write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions in your journal.
- I invite you to talk to the person you thought about above to find out what they would have preferred you do in the situation if it is safe to do so.
Final step – how will you implement one thing you learned today in your life?