Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fixing people

The big mistake many people do, is that they are so certain that they know all the answers that they want now to use this knowledge in order to fix other people. They have already answered to most questions regarding themselves and what is life's purpose that they feel it's time to just apply the same knowledge to people who seem to be incomplete to their eyes. Of course what they have learned about themselves and life applies similarly to everyone in their view.

That sounds strange to me because as a person I don't even feel like I have answered everything about myself. While I have finally build a more concrete personality and learned to stick by the things I feel certain or almost certain about myself and my purpose and not worry much about the things still missing, I still don't feel like I am in the position to "fix" others. Even with the persons who seem to be very similar to myself and I feel a sympathy about their worries and fears that are similar to mine, I am not sure whether I could somehow help them at this particular moment even if I had the confidence to do so.

And yet it doesn't end there. Shouldn't I consider the question whether that person actually needs "fixing"? And if it so then what is the strategy towards this goal? Is the problem just a logical one? Should I press the other persons into it because I know it's the right thing? And finally, who am I to think I can "fix" anyone as if I am the only perfectly correct person and everyone else is dysfunctional?

These are the questions most people "fixers" never seem to do. Some people come to me and say that they were just like me (I doubt it considering the kind of minds I encounter) and they want to "help" me, by reminding my how wrong and how miserable I am. There was one guy who really had evolved this talent to notice people's small reactions, like myself shaking nervously my foot. "This was a sign of being nervous" he said (really? :P) and as a wise man who can observe people he advised me to stop doing it because I will improve my self image to others. I don't say it's a bad thought (for example in a job interview) but that guy seemed to have an absolute view on this, like I was some kind of freak that had to be "fixed" and the only right way is to be perfectly still. Much later I discovered in random conversations that a lot of other people confessed that they have this habit of shaking nervously their foot. And there is nothing seriously wrong about it of course. Some of these "fixers" are similar to the absurd phenomenon of the smoking quitter. Certain people who have quit smoking might later start preaching about how bad smoking is to other smoker friends. Did the smoking quitters already forgot how hard the addiction was for them and that the solution to the problem can't really be the simple logic that smoking is bad? Why can't nobody tell me what magic did they suddenly do to change eating habits in order to loose weight, even obese people similar to me who felt how impossible it was before? We have the logic but miss the emotional spark that could change lifes.

And yet another kind of fixers are the angry people who arrogantly thing that the world around them is stupid and they are the smartest people in the world. And then these people don't just try to "fix" other people but also the world. The world is wrong, they are right.

I remember some of these people (the most characteristic examples I have been thinking while writing this post come from random people I met during my greek army duty, I am just saying this so that my close friends don't think I could have any of you in my mind, if you ever feared of this anyway). They were actually smart and educated people. They were interesting. They thought in logic but omitted one or two important things. People are different. People with the same problem might still need a different approach.

And one more thing. Are we perceiving the right thing here? Do people actually need "fixing"?

I think this is a trend from psychotherapy. I need to rewatch The Century of the Self. Not that I have anything against psychotherapy or psychology and similar disciplines. It's just that according to that documentary and also according to people's misconceptions, these disciplines try to cure (fix) people who are not normal. And most fixers, even those who don't believe in psychology, go along with this trend. In reality a good psychologist doesn't try to fix a person but to help him in cooperation. One should try to understand the other person, understand why he or she goes through bad times and how that goes bad with the rest of the world, and discuss whether things could be evolved in a way that goes well enough with the individual and the society. And if it's not very possible, that's just fine, as long as the sufferer has gained a better view of where the problem lies and what are the disadvantages in this world. It's his/her own responsibility from now to choose which path to follow.

I wish I could summarize this view in a more concrete and simple to understand way. The keyword for me is approach. Do not bash the individual with what has to be done. People who are sensitive might get more saddened and dive further into negativity (thank you for "helping" :P). People who are more brute will just tell you to fuck off and then you have lost them. Attempt to listen to the individual and understand, try to imagine how they are living with their problems. Remember that the pain or anxiety they feel about things might be quite more or less strong than your own feelings. Even if we set aside the brain differences, just a different upbringing could make things more complicated and your simple logical steps might not work here.

At the end of all, don't be too obsessed about "fixing". The person might be just fine and your view about him or her might be skewed. You can approach and try to understand for bit, but then it's time to move along. Changes come slowly, you are not going to "fix" someone in one instance. And take the credit? Come on! It's the person who has slowly evolved after so many obstacles and sorrows that has succeeded into this. That's why it takes so long and that's why you can't just "fix" but only approach and maybe pass a part of your wisdom that might be naive or if it's not it takes time and it could just be an inspiration to the whole process. I think that another reason we perceive "fixing" wrongly, is every movie where at some tipping point a person reveals a deep wisdom (usually cliche stuff :) to another person, whose life suddenly changes from that particular moment. Ugh! As if all that was needed was a magic phrase! As if people could change that easily. Not taking in account the whole evolving process that should take in order for a person to change his habits or character. (and one could actually argue that he observed a sudden change in one of his friends or relatives, it is only external in my opinion and I believe there has to be a long hidden history of internal evolving process that lead to these results)

It would be a good food for thought how to extrapolate this 'approach, understand and spark evolution' method (instead of instantly fixing) for the world. All I see around me is people bitching. Bitching about the world, about the economy, the politicians, the other people who are all wrong except the people who are bitching (that goes recursive, lol :P). I think I like the Zen way (It might be a misunderstanding of what Zen means though, just my own feeling of it) and I believe if more people tried to get hold on this then the world could easily be a better place. Don't jump instantly into fighting. Pause for a while. Be patient. Understand the world, understand the people, instead of just blaming everyone without second thought. Clear your mind and start again.

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