By Joy W. Goldman RN, MS, PCC: A recovering fixer!
Over the next several weeks, we will post stress management strategies for those of us who identify as “I’m a fixer!—I fix things!” — usually said with much pride. Fixing, also known as problem-solving, is a valuable skill, until we approach everything in our work and personal lives as problems to fix. Here we’ve adapted the time-tested 12-step program from Alcoholics Anonymous to habitual problem solvers/ fixers!
1. We admitted that we were powerless over wanting to fix everything and everyone. As healthcare practitioners and leaders, we have been groomed to notice the gap: our filters have been cultured to look for what’s wrong as compared with what’s right. We’ve fallen hostage to the dopamine/ neurochemical surge that occurs when we believe we’ve solved a problem and fixed something. We’ve enjoyed the feeling of power when we believe we have the answer and share our wisdom with those with a need to learn from us. In an increasingly unpredictable and fast-moving world, fixing problems seems less injurious than eating lots of chocolate! We’ve also noticed others coming to us less frequently- seemingly not wanting our advice, or coming to us ALL the time to solve their problems.
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity and provide hope that others wouldn’t run when we approached. As we become overwhelmed with everyone running to us to solve their problems, we realized there had to be a better way. Constantly “fixing” is exhausting! There are some leaders who don’t seem as harried as we do and seem to be getting results—from where does their power come and how might I have the courage to be vulnerable and ask for help?
3. We made a decision to turn our fixing compulsion over to the care of a higher power as we understand them. We really enjoy appearing to be the master of our craft where others see us as the expert. And while we recognize that there are places and times when our fixing is a tremendous contribution, we’re also aware that we are a limited resource and can’t tackle all of work and life problems. We also notice that, like bell-bottoms, the same problems keep reappearing. They may seem fixed for a time, but then they reappear, like a pesty mosquito that just won’t quit! We need and surrender to getting help.