When we are choosing the people in our lives, we like to pick ones that comfort us and support us in our times of need. Part of our relationships with these people means supporting them as well. Some of us don’t really know what it means to be supportive, and we do the best we can.
So, what does it mean to be supportive? What can we do to connect with our loved ones better, and help lift them up without any burden to ourselves? Luckily, the answer is quite simple.
Many of us are fixers – we like to solve other people’s problems, lend a hand, and make sure everyone else’s lives are running smoothly. As a fixer myself, I know that more than enough time is spent on these tasks. Living as an adult child of an alcoholic means that I am well versed in the art of fixing, whether it is cleaning up after someone, fixing their mistakes, or bailing them out of trouble when that might not be the best thing for them. Being a fixer is not a bad thing; many of us are caregivers by nature, and we genuinely do love to help out. Being a fixer just means we spend a little too much time focused on fixing others.
Unfortunately, the best intentions can sometimes go astray. We know that we are coming from a loving place or wanting to help and connect with the other person. Constantly telling them how to fix their problems, however, is not what someone wants out of a supportive friend, and we often get pushed away.
Instead of fixing, try affirming what the person is saying. When someone complains about work, or a problem with a boyfriend, try to just listen and make them feel heard. By doing this and letting them figure the problem out on their own, will show them you have confidence in them, rather than fixing them and showing them that your way is better. A lot of times, we just want an ear, and for someone to agree with us that the situation we are in is difficult. We don’t need to try to fix someone in order for them to like us and enjoy our company. We don’t have to bend over backwards for other people, we just have to be there for them. Allow them the dignity of making their own decisions and offer insight when they ask. Fixing generally means that something is broken, and we don’t want to make people in our lives feel broken, we want to empower them and make them feel strong.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to just listen to one person that is venting, and show them that you hear them. Validate what they are saying, and try to hold back from fixing them. If the temptation is too strong, try asking them if there is anything you can do to help with the situation. Remember, you don’t need to use your energy focusing on anyone else’s problems.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com firstname.lastname@example.org