Compulsive Fixing

“Co-dependents have a compulsive need to fix others,”  the instructor was saying.  I shifted uncomfortably in my chair.  “They are rescuers.” Was she looking at me?  “We all know rescuers.”  Too well, I thought.

It was all I knew growing up.  My mother encouraged it:  “Your sister is talking nonsense, will you call her?”, or “What should I do about your father?”, and so on.  It was my role.  I was the responsible one.

“In a dysfunctional family, each offspring will fulfill a different role.  The responsible one typically will choose a career as a caregiver.”  Busted!

I was not alone.  We were a room full of therapists, here to learn how to be more compassionate and effective as caregivers.  We were learning about our own fallacies.

Trying to fix another, assumes they are broken.  Trying to rescue assumes they are helpless.  The action fulfills the giver’s agenda, and does nothing for the person in need of help.  People may need a hand up, but more than anything, they need to be seen, heard, and believed in.

One of my teachers said that if you meet resistance when offering to help another, then you must look to yourself for the cause.  She suggested we can only ever offer, not force.  A compulsive fixer has to learn to hold back.

Suspect you might be a compulsive fixer?  Check out the article by Jake Lawson, Overcoming the Need to Fix.  (


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