Are you trapped in the Fix it trap?

Are you trapped in the Fix it trap?

Life & Death Matters Post


Elizabeth Causton suggests that we are in the “Fix it trap” when we don’t recognize that there is a difference between fixable and unfixable pain, when we believe it is our job to fix everything, and when we have the delusion to think that we can actually do so!

But how can we recognize the difference between pain that is fixable and pain that is not fixable?

Elizabeth suggests that we can listen to ourselves to find out if we are in the “Fix‐it trap”. Often our language is the first clue.  We might hear ourselves giving lots of advice; oversimplifying the issues so that things seem ‘solvable’.  Apparently it is much easier to try to FIX something than it is to “witness” the pain, and be present to the suffering, knowing that some things are too big for answers, and somethings can not be fixed.

I remember kneeling at the bedside of a dear friend who as she died.  Her husband was at the bedside, and their three small children were home in bed.  As I sat with him that night, I knew that there was NOTHING I could do to fix things or decrease his pain.  I could only to present and witness the suffering.

More recently I think of a time when I was less aware of my inability to solve the problems in the life of one of my loved ones… and in my anxiety, I wanted to counsel and “fix the problem”.  I did not listen to her, but rather, I listened for any pieces of the problem that I could “fix”.  I forgot that some problems can not be fixed easily or immediately.  I forgot that she needs to “lean into her challenges” and “live her life into the answers”.  And I forgot that in suggesting that I could simply help her fix the problem that I minimized the struggle.

Charles Lochner wrote:  “It is not that we have the answers that makes us healers, but that we share the questions.”  Being with, offering her the gift of presence, would have been more helpful.

Do you relate to the challenge of the Fix it Trap?  Do you find it fairly easy to step into problem solving mode?  How do you know when you are “in the trap”?

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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