I love fixing other people’s problems; otherwise I would have no business in being a life coach and NLP trainer. But I will be really honest with you; I have been fixing other people’s problems since I was probably in my crib. In fact, I am so good at it that I excel more at fixing other people’s problems than my own.
But isn’t it exhausting? When I was much younger I would fix other people’s problems without being asked. Then I migrated to being the go-to person for other people’s problems. This is largely me, but thankfully also people have started to avoid me in some situations. This is a good thing! Because giving your friends the friendly ear often means that you are contributing to their misery.
Here is an example of how this goes: Let’s say your best friend is dating the wrong guy! The guy isn’t kind to her, is very self involved and cares more about his own needs. Worse yet, she is ready to settle down and fulfill a dream of becoming a mother, while he just wants to experience the world.Children are the last thing on his mind.
Your friend calls you in the middle of the night. Drama. They have broken up … again. You go over as the dutiful best friend and shower her with support, acceptance and love. She feels better.
A few days later, she and her boyfriend make up again. All is sorted, and the make-up sex was fantastic. He is the love of her life after all, and there is now a new understanding.
Three months later, again you are called. You again make it over. You listen once more. And shower her again with support, acceptance and love.
A few days later …
You can see where this goes, right? The situation with your friend and the boyfriend hasn’t changed at all and the underlying problem is still there. They aren’t solving their problem, yet when she experiences the pain, you give it all the positive attention.
I learned to ask myself a few questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how emotional is this situation? And am I the best person to support her? (Or should I involve someone else, like a professional.)
Will this problem matter 3 days from now? 3 weeks? 3 months? 3 years? 30 years? A lifetime? Your response must match this.
Is it required for me to run over and listen to this now at the height of the emotion? If not, I actually prefer to wait a few days, because generally things will have calmed down and the conversation may no longer be required.
Is this a new problem? Or is this an unaddressed problem by my friend? Has it been in existence for more than 3 months? What “real” actions has my friend taken to fix it? Is she making the same mistakes over and over?
If this is a boomerang problem, one that keeps coming back because no problem solving actually is being done, I step out. Especially if someone has not executed the solutions we talked about 3 months prior. This is a pattern interrupt of not giving the support, acceptance and love. Your friend might not love you for it, but you can shower the solution seeking with love, acceptance and understanding, not enable the problem with those things. You need to help your friend to understand that. The more you shower and feed the problem energy, the less likely your friend is going to seek solutions.
Ultimately your end goal is that your friend becomes happy. The only way your friends can be happy, is if they fix their problems. After all, do you not expect yourself to fix your problems rather than keep them indefinitely?