The session with my life coach began as ordinary. I told her of my recent certification as a Reiki practitioner and the shifts in energy I felt since the training. I realized that over the last year I had become more passive, more willing to let life happen as it unfolds, more detached from and surrendering to the outcome. She realized that I found all of this extremely difficult because I like being in control.
She asked me how I find myself living in this new perspective. I paused as something was rising to the surface. Then a kind of revelation: I don’t need to be fixed! I said to her. I kept repeating it, in awe at the power of these words.
I don’t need to fix myself. And I don’t need to fix anyone else! These statements seemed to have a new and deeper meaning. I was in such shock as I heard myself that tears welled up in my eyes. It was as if a hot poker had pierced the core of my heart.
Where was all of this coming from? I began to sort it out. I always had a need to help others ever since I fantasized becoming a doctor as a child. But this need to help others seemed also to be a compulsion to fix, to make things, institutions, and people function more effectively. My world felt like a giant machine with a myriad of moving parts, many of which needed replacement.
Why the need to fix? With more work came the answer: if I fixed what was missing in others then maybe someone would fix me too. If I fixed my world, maybe I’d be happy and feel as if my life were worth living. A nuclear bomb is so powerful that it needs another, smaller bomb within it to act as a detonator. My need to fix was like that detonator, deep in my core waiting to explode in order to set off a chain reaction of repairing the world.
Even though I was motivated by genuine idealism and altruism to become a priest, I also see how much ministry had to do with fixing. I wanted to fix the church institution to be more like what Jesus envisioned. I wanted to fix the communication of the gospel to be more effective. I wanted to fix my parishioners so that they could find empowerment and deeply spiritual lives. I wanted to fix mistaken notions by teaching objective truths. I wanted to fix behavior by giving sound advice.
But in time I came to realize that even God’s eternal love could not penetrate this perspective. Not God’s fault! It’s just that I didn’t trust love. My personal experiences constricted my capacity to receive love. I feared that love would betray and hurt me again.
When we’re hell-bent on making our point, on becoming a success, on leaving our mark in the world, we get side-tracked if our motivation is not pure. I now see more clearly the conditions I’d placed on giving and receiving love. I hadn’t been able to let love in because there had been no space both for my need to fix and my need for gracious love. I was caught in a conundrum.
In fact, my need to fix and be fixed became a major saboteur, an internalized bully that constantly reminded me that I was not worth it, not good enough. It heightened my narcissism, caused me to us my gifts and authority with questionable motives at times, and compelled me daily to justify my existence.
Do you have a sense that something is not working in your life? Are you seeking to be fixed, or to fix others before you can experience a measure of contentment? Are you afraid to look at your limitations for fear that somehow they indicate you are broken, and not simply human? Isn’t our mere existence in this world sufficient evidence that we are already whole and don’t need fixing?
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