How To Stop Trying To Fix Other People’s Problems

How To Stop Trying To Fix Other People’s Problems

It makes sense that you want to help the people you care about by alleviating their stress and anxiety and stepping in to sort out issues that seem overwhelming or insurmountable to them. However, constantly trying to fix everyone’s problems all the time is only going to lead to one thing: you feeling exhausted and completely drained. Here’s how to take a step back and let people sort their own lives moving forward.

1. Recognize that you have a problem.

woman working at laptop

The first step is acknowledging that you have a tendency to try to fix other people’s problems. Once you recognize this, you can start to make changes. It can be hard to admit that you’re not just “trying to help” — you’re trying to completely take over their lives for them, and it’s never going to work (nor is it your job).

2. Practice active listening.

Young woman talking on smart phone while working at home office

Instead of jumping in with solutions, zip your lips and open your ears when someone shares a problem with you. Listen to understand, not to respond. This can provide the person with emotional support, which is often more valuable than unsolicited advice. They’ll tell you what they need, either directly or indirectly, if you’re paying attention.

3. Encourage a bit of self-reliance.

A smiling woman listens to the advice of a consultant psychologist sitting on a sofa in the workshop.

Encourage the person to come up with their own solutions to the problems they’re having. This promotes self-reliance and builds confidence in their problem-solving abilities. Ask questions that guide them toward finding their own way through problems. That’s not to say that you can’t give your opinions if asked, but you don’t have to come up with all the answers.

4. Set some serious boundaries.

A smiling plus size woman sitting at her desk and writing a journal.

It’s important to set boundaries for your own mental and emotional health. Let the person know that while you’re there to support them, you can’t solve all their problems for them. It’s okay to say no when you need to. To be honest, they might actually be happy about you stepping back — they can actually take control of their own life again!

5. Encourage them to seek help if they need it.

If the person’s problems are severe or chronic, encourage them to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to handle complex issues and can provide the person with the tools they need to cope. They actually have the right qualifications and get paid to deal with these things — you don’t.

6. Look after yourself.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Helping other people shouldn’t come at the expense of your own mental health and general well-being. Engage in regular self-care activities and ensure you’re giving yourself the same level of care that you’re offering other people. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as they say.

7. Practice mindfulness.

Being present in the moment can help you resist the urge to jump in and fix everything. Mindfulness helps you to be a patient listener and a supportive presence without meddling. It allows you to detach from the situation and give the other person the space they need.

8. Reevaluate your role in people’s lives.

Reconsider what part you play in people’s lives. Are you a parent, friend, or mentor? Understanding your role can help you provide the right kind of support without overstepping boundaries. It can also help you strike a balance between offering support and respecting their autonomy.

9. Reframe your thinking.

Instead of viewing other people’s problems as predicaments that need fixing, see them as opportunities for your own personal growth. This perspective shift can help you stand back and let the person navigate their own challenges. It’s a way to promote resilience and independence in them.

10. Use affirmations.

Positive affirmations can reinforce your new approach, even if they feel a bit cheesy at first. Phrases like “I am not responsible for others’ problems” or “I can provide support without fixing” can help guide your interactions with others. Repeating these affirmations can gradually change your mindset and behavior. It takes time, but you might be shocked at how well they work!

11. Check your ego.

Sometimes, the need to fix everyone else’s problems stems from our own ego. We might enjoy the feeling of being needed or being the hero. Regularly checking with yourself in this way can help you avoid this pitfall and ensure that your actions are genuinely in other people’s best interests — and your own!

12. Get a hobby.

couple painting in room

This might seem a bit harsh, but it’s so important. Having a hobby can help you focus your energy on something productive, which then reduces the temptation to invest your time and energy in fixing other people’s issues. A hobby can also provide a healthy outlet for stress and enhance your overall well-being.

13. Visualizations can help too.

Visualize the person successfully solving their own problems. This can help you resist the urge to step in and also sends positive energy their way. Visualization can reinforce your trust in their capabilities, as well as your trust in your decision to back off and let things play out as they will.

14. Focus on personal growth.

Working on improving yourself can help you become more self-aware and less inclined to fix other people’s problems (among many other benefits, of course). You’ll be too busy evolving and leveling up in life to even worry about it. This can lead to better relationships as you learn to respect other people’s journey and growth process.

15. Try and be patient.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Practice patience with yourself and with other people as you shift from being a fixer to a supporter. Remember, it’s a journey, and it’s okay to make mistakes and learn along the way.

16. Seek support if you need it.

two businessmen having meeting together

If you’re finding it difficult to change your behavior, don’t hesitate to seek support. A therapist or a coach can provide valuable guidance and strategies to help you. They can provide an outside perspective and practical tools to help you manage this transition.

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Josh grew up in Connecticut and thought he could never be happier away from big bodies of water until he moved to Minneapolis and fell in love with it. He writes full-time, with his lifestyle content being published in the likes of Men's Health, Business Insider, and many more. When he's not writing, he likes running (but not enough to train for a marathon even though his buddy won't stop asking him).