Human beings dislike suffering. We avoid suffering, whether it is emotional or physical through avoidance. Often, we deny, avoid or numb our pain with distractions or blame it on external conditions. We tend to brush suffering off and cannot recognize others’ suffering. Just think about it. How have you treated your own impatience, annoyance, and anxiety? They all make us suffer in the sense that they cause stress. What do you do when you experience these uncomfortable emotions? How we treat these comfortable emotions in ourselves, we do the same to others. We tend to fix things. Yet, what we and others need is a helper and not a fixer.
What is a Fixer?
According to Collins Dictionary, a fixer is a person who solves problems and gets things done. We learn to fix problems in daily life in corporations and institutions. We fix the economy to reduce poverty. Today, we try to fix our climate by doing something about our economy that has caused climate change. In the office, we fix problems by setting goals.
Our ability to solve problems and how productive we are are part of our yearly work performance review. The quicker we are at fixing problems, the more confident we become. Our confidence makes us think we are intelligent and rational. And we bring our fixer mindset back to our home life.
What is a Helper?
What are the differences between a helper and a fixer? A helper is an ally and provides assistance to another group or person. In the context of mindfulness, a helper is someone whose mind is pliable. S/he helps the other as an assistant rather than as a leader.
A fixer, on the other hand, tends to lead because s/he views himself or herself as an expert or as someone intelligent. Someone who views himself or herself as highly rational tends to dismiss others’ ideas. A helper tends to listen, while a fixer is focused on solving a problem.
The Differences Between a Helper and Fixer
A helper cares about what the group or the person s/he is helping wants. Whereas a fixer thinks his or her solution is the best for solving the problem. A helper assists, while a fixer dominates. The helper isn’t offended if his or her solution is rejected by the other. While a fixer may be upset because s/he thinks their solution is the best there is for fixing the problem quickly.
A helper helps with the attitudes of compassion and empathy. S/he often is able to put himself or herself in the other person’s shoes. A fixer is focused on solving the problem and others’ feelings are unimportant. A helper also allows the other person or group to make mistakes and is able to step back in the background, ready to come forward when asked. A fixer, on the other hand, may leave the group when his or her ideas are not used by the group or person they are helping.
How to Help Instead of Fix?
In the context of mindfulness, everything on the outside happens first on the inside. If there is conflict in the world, it is because we experience conflicts in ourselves. Inner conflicts aren’t just about whether we should choose one decision over another. Inner conflicts consist of a spectrum of negativity we experience within.
When we feel restless, we are in conflict with calm. And our anger comes from our conflict with something we disagree with. It could be a person or a situation that caused the anger. But we forget the fact we have the power to choose how to feel about a situation. Our only real freedom comes from the choices we make and it comes from inside.
To be a helper, we have to learn to be with the conflict in our hearts. Conflict arises from what we think about something. Our thoughts are the choices we make to take action in the world. If we can’t learn to be with our thoughts and see them and their effects, humanity may never end conflict. A 2014 study showed that 67 percent of male participants and 25 percent of female participants chose to electrocute themselves than be alone with their thoughts.
Mindfulness is a training of our attention and awareness. With heightened awareness, we learn not to be caught up and believe every thought that enters our minds. We become aware of how certain thoughts harm ourselves and create conflict in the world. Unity comes from not rejecting the negativity within us but transforming them with patience and compassion. When we have patience and compassion towards ourselves, we then are able to have the same tolerance towards others. If you would like to see the end of conflict, check out our mindfulness courses.