Many of us were raised to base our identity on helping or fixing others. Fixing others is often the addiction of choice for people who have a naturally deep level of empathy and who easily feel others’ pain.
This was one of my major addictions for many years. Deeply feeling my parents’ pain and the pain of others around me was unbearable to me as a child. I thought that if only I could make them happy then I wouldn’t have to feel their pain.
Leslie is struggling with this very issue:
“I am completely attached and addicted to trying to help my sister. I can see now that my health and chronic pain is very much linked to hers – not wanting to be better/healthier than her for fear of rejection abandonment and criticism. If you have any words on how to release the habit of obsessing over others problems and the need to “fix it” before I can be happy and free, would be greatly appreciated.”
Leslie, as I discovered with myself when I started to practice my inner work process, the fear of rejection, abandonment and criticism comes from rejecting, abandoning and criticizing yourself. You are making your sister responsible for whether or not you are okay, which means that you are making her responsible for your feelings. As you learn and practice doing inner work and learn to take loving care of yourself, you will naturally be able to let go of your addiction to fixing her.
You not only have the right to be happy and free, you also have the responsibility for creating your own happiness and freedom, instead of making your sister responsible for this. As you diligently practice the inner work process and develop your loving adult self and your spiritual connection, you will gradually have an easier time focusing on what you need rather than on what she needs.
Trying to fix her has nothing to do with loving yourself or with loving her. In fact, trying to fix her is very controlling. It took me a long time to understand that fixing others is a form of control, but once I understood this and accepted that my responsibility is to love myself and share my love with others, I was able to let go of fixing.
Sharon has a similar issue:
“How do you conquer unhealthy attachments, or rather, if you had become attached because of fear of abandonment or desire to “fix” (both co-dependent traits), how do you help break those ties and find self love and self trust again? When you are always thinking about the “other” person/breakup/past issues, it is hard to live in the moment and not be overwhelmed with worry, sadness or anxiety.”
Sharon, as an adult, the fear of abandonment comes from self-abandonment – such as judging yourself, staying in your head and ignoring your feelings, turning to addictions, and making others responsible for your feelings. Your worry, sadness and anxiety are telling you that you are abandoning yourself. Self-abandonment comes from the intent to control others and avoid your own feelings, and this is what leads to unhealthy attachments and trying to fix others. As long as you don’t have a strong inner connection with your feeling self – your inner child – and with a personal source of love and wisdom, you will continue to attach to others in unhealthy ways. Like Leslie, you need to learn to love yourself by learning and practicing the inner work healing process.
You CAN heal a ‘fixing others’ addiction by focusing on learning to love yourself rather than continuing to abandon yourself. If I can do it, so can you!