How to figure out what to fix.

Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place.
— John Bender, "The Breakfast Club"

This is absolutely one of my favorite movies of all time, and one of my favorite characters.

And as Buddhism becomes more of who I am and how I live, I take this quote that used to be a sarcastic middle finger to be really truthful.

The world is an imperfect place. Screws fall out all the time. Shit happens, basically.

Our work in the world is to figure how and what to fix, and when and why?

We see a lot of people scrambling trying to fix everything, especially since our current election brought a new administration onto the scene. Social media is full of big fixers. Social activists, more fixers. Co-dependents raised in dysfunctional or unstable homes, (i.e. most of us)? Fixers.

How do I know? I used to be a BIG fixer. Still am, more than I wish most days. Fixing is part of how I function in the world, coming from my upbringing. And duh, also because I’m human and we’re wired that way. We’re motivated to actualize our potential before our flame flickers out. So we seek (and sometimes destroy) in our attempt to be meaningful in some way.

Fixing can be good! It can help bring fresh water to people is desperate need of it. It can also change a political landscape to bring justice to more people. But sometimes in our need to fix and help, we can sometimes lose sight of the reasons why we are and if we even should. The world is imperfect and things break or end and fall apart. This has been my biggest breakthrough from my Buddhist studies and my experience living so freely in my life. It’s something so many people try to avoid and prevent, spending incredible amounts of time energy and money in the process. And for the most part, it’s all in vain.

Because things need to fall apart for us to learn resilience. Adversity is the stuff of life. Often what needs fixing isn’t something or someone or a situation but our own mindset about it.

Becoming a coach was part of my attempt to fix things. It was totally subconscious at the time, I didn’t perceive myself as a fixer, just someone who “wanted to help.” Expanding beyond individual clients to support teams and companies came from my desire to help more people, more efficiently. I pursued a master’s degree all about the how and why workplaces become toxic and how to help.

The problem with all my helping is finding the right people who seek out the help. Most humans are wired to fix other things, but not ask for help to fix themselves in the process. Ironic, isn’t it??

I was reminded about the delicate process of helping recently when someone kept trying to “fix” me. I was so put off by the experience that I used it to step back and assess. Why did it bother me so much? What was wrong with someone wanting to “help” me? I realized it was because I didn’t ask for help. I wasn’t actually in need of it. So the “help” was occurring to me as anything but! It was annoying, in fact. Really, really annoying.

Help is most helpful when it’s asked for and needed. It works best when it’s wanted.

What really troubles me about marketing lingo and jargon is how it manipulates people into thinking they need fixing just to make money. It’s why I’ve stepped so far back from it. It isn’t authentic. I know it’s how capitalism thrives but I’m finding my own way around that.

If you find yourself wandering around looking for ways to make things work better, start with how well you feed yourself and how much sleep you get. Work on how well your body moves and how your mind wanders and where your thoughts take you. Fix whatever you can about your own life and keep an ear out for someone asking for help and how it sounds. It may not be exactly as you’d ask for it, if you even do. Do you ask for help when you need it? Just wonderin’.

This process has worked for me in my own life. And I’m focusing my energy on finding those who are ready, willing and able to ask for help and listening well for how I can do that.