Have you ever experienced a time where you felt like someone was fixing you?
Let me set the scene with an example that could be plucked out of real life.
You are at a party. You bumped into a friend and a conversation starts. The “How are you?” exchange kicks it off. Then at some point, the friend asks a more in-depth question that deserves a fuller answer. If you are anything like me and consider yourself to be an honest person, then no matter the question, you always tell it like it is. Usually that means being really transparent and giving more details. What I’ve noticed is that this somehow “gives permission”or carte blanche for what comes next. And what comes next is that you find yourself in the middle of a strategy talk. And as a result, you both have moved away from connecting as human beings and straight into how can this (you) be fixed.
Just because someone shared their vulnerability doesn’t mean they want to be fixed!
What happens to you when this is unfolding?
Well, at first you may feel a bit off. You may also feel like you are wrong, small or not good enough because this person is in process of fixing you. Your friend, by asking one question, has now created an incubator on how can we make You great (again). They don’t even notice that you’re not “in” the conversation anymore. You probably have stopped talking for awhile. They are so busy spinning ideas at you that you are lost in a wave of their inspired energy and incidentally loving what they are coming up with! This energy that they created is not for you. It is for them to feel good about themselves, using your answer to their question as a way to achieve this. But that doesn’t feel too great for you.
When you are the one on the receiving end of this kind of conversation you will feel it in your solar plexus (gut) while the person is talking. And that feeling is like a warning sign saying something like, “This is not resonating.”or “This doesn’t feel right.” But you may not be sure why you are feeling that and let the conversation continue. And if you are an HSP/Empath like me, you want to stop the conversation but you are overwhelmed by their feelings and your own. Now, here comes the people who say, “Oh just tell them to shut up and mind their own business.” Unfortunately, if we could gain some ground while it was happening then you bet we would. But it is not in the nature of an highly sensitive person to do that because we know how it feels. We know that when we tell them to stop or “shut up”, how that will land, and feel on the other person immediately. Because we feel that too. It has very much the effect of a boomerang. Only with feelings. In a way, it is a wonderful gift because you know what you say hurts both you & the other person. So you are naturally careful when choosing your words. On the other hand, it causes you to freeze when you are in a situation where you do need to stand up for yourself. My throat closes and I smile a lot when I am in this type of situation.
Honestly, I’m still learning how to navigate this hidden talent of being an HSP/Empath. What I have come to understand about being empathetic is that we often pull in emotions and feelings of others, in a subconscious and natural way, which can confuse us with our own feelings. Often, we assume the feelings we pull in, are our own. It is important to get tools* that you can use to protect yourself so that you can hold your boundaries and ward off these types of seemingly innocent conversations.
What is happening in this conversation?
It is simple. We’ve all been raised in a society to find solutions to problems. We want RESULTS. When someone is solving, it is from the head. The epicenter of analytical problem solving. Which is needed and good. Let’s not make that a bad thing. But, when we go to this place, which let’s face we’ve all learned to do, we are thinking in a linear way. That means everything and everyone must fit into a proven way for success. Therefore, when someone sees a problem, they instantly detach from the person, and begin to fix. But this kind of thinking, doesn’t consider you, your feelings, & your life experience. Maybe you’ve got this handled & just experiencing a set back. There is a lot of assuming and resolving that is not considering these other factors which is YOU! This has little to do with being compassionate of other people’s journeys or processes, when one listens to fix another person. It is almost always more about them than you. It is akin to advise giving! I’ve talked about that, here.
Does this situation sound familiar? What did you do?
Please share in the comments. Let’s support each other in changing our fixing habits into loving ones.
*A few notable resources for HSP/Empathetic people:
The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff
The Highly Sensitive person website, by Dr. Elaine Aron