8.26.2012

The Enlightening Mat: Learning Not to Fix

 nothing to fix (lake tahoe)

Recently I discovered that it's highly possible that I have never loved without a personal agenda attached to the outcome. Tangled up in my love are some subtle needs like wanting someone else to be happy, so I'm happy too, but I think my favorite personal agenda has been the desire to fix others.

Ouch! This was a painful realization. Especially since I have already done so much conscious work on my co-dependent behavior. Nevertheless, this past year I dug into my fixing habit. Because of this work I've found that loving what is happening in the moment without a personal agenda is actually pretty difficult for me to master.

The way I've been learning a new response is by practicing not reacting when I sense I want to fix someone or the conditions of a situation. I've found that one of the best places to grow my practice is in the Bikram yoga studio. When you put a lot of stressed out people in a extremely hot room for 90 minutes, it generates some weird experiences that test your trusted strategy for fixing.

For instance, if the teacher makes a mistake and skips a posture, I pay them no mind but just continue to follow their dialogue. If the studio feels too hot, too stuffy, or too cold, I don't ask the teacher to change the conditions of the room. If the gal sitting next to me runs out of water, I don't offer her my water bottle, but let the teacher handle it. If the person next to me starts crying, I don't react.

This all might sound pretty unfriendly and cold, but there is a difference between remaining aware of a situation with the conscious belief that everything will unfold naturally without me meddling (and may actually be better off for it), and not offering help because I don't want to get involved.

I'm practicing an awareness where I choose to focus on the situation without reacting so I can see what will unfold without me trying to fix it -- a strategy to meet my own needs for balance, safety, happiness, peace, etc. Many times if I remain aware but don't react, the person or conditions that I want to fix magically transform in their own unique way that I couldn't have imagined. It's like watching a movie for the first time, but in this case I didn't write the script with my preferred solutions so it's a complete surprise.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures

9 comments:

  1. GF! I definitely get what you mean...I have learned not to try and offer unless its needed/warranted... I remember when my daughter would call me up crying and not knowing what/why she was... I naturally went thru a checklist... well instead of her just asking me to listen to her, that she did not need any advice, I did what came naturally... lol... btw, her crying was due to the grief she was dealing with... I even told her after she figured it out, that I was new to this 'grief thing'.. so I had no clue that she just wanted to vent... oy vey!.

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    1. I'm still learning this lesson! Learning to ask what someone might be needing - listening or feedback? Sounds like you've managed to grow into this naturally with your daughter.

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  2. this is very interesting - you have kind of taken the stance of a nature photographer... observing without engaging... and allowing the participants to remain what they are - the participants... i find this to be very intriguing, thanks so much!

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  3. This is another one of your posts that really struck a chord with me. I am a "fixer" by nature, and I've come to realize that what is "helping" to me is sometimes "meddling" to others and that I should I should be more conscious and deliberate about this--that sometimes it is best for people to learn on their own.

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    1. So glad to hear you've been gaining the same insights and seeing the value of individual learning!! Maybe we need a recovering "fixers" group :)

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  4. Thank you, Beth for recording this... I shall revisit Lake Tahoe daily... and for your wise words. For me, it's like learning to drive a car - it took me such a long time and 7 attempts to finally pass the test, so I needed to dig deep and learn the lesson - over and over and over - I too am a fixer/rescuer by nature and it's hard to resist the urge, as it's a compulsion to act.... in the same way as it's a compulsion to smoke that cigarette or have another drink or bet on another poker game for some... It's in the resistance, as you say, that makes us stronger - sometimes I forget and I slip and go through a period of recycling... But each time I resist, wow! It feels great to have overcome that compulsion to fix! Allowing others to find their own answers is the greatest gift we can offer to others... Allowing ourselves to find our own answers within - letting go of the need for external validation - that's got to be the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

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    1. That is so sweet! This day out on the lake was one of those perfect moments when all felt right with the world. This story of learning how to drive is just amazing. I love your tenacity and willingness to stay with the learning process!! I also appreciate how you have brought this other connection of the "compulsion" to fix. It is on my addictive list too! Finding one own answers is such a gift and it's something I have to keep reminding myself of when I interact with other people. Thank you for sharing your insights and light to this post.

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  5. Just by fate I ended up here - Brava to you for allowing others to flow on their own paths unobstructed. I think that sometimes we hinder that flow when we view the situation as less than perfect and step in to try to "correct" it. I see this as a societal tendency as well, when we systematically and mechanically try to "fix" certain societal problems. So glad I stopped in.

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    1. How neat! Am glad this post spoke to you and I like how you've added this part about fixing something when subtly we may view it as "less than perfect." This is such a great teaching to hear. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and energy with me!!

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