No, I cannot fix you

(Because I don't believe you're broken)

Sometimes things can feel really hard.

In my lines of work, that hardness has shown up for clients as knee pains or relationship pains or marketing pains. Regardless of the details of the situations, the crux is the same. Things feel really, really hard. Insurmountably hard.

It happens less now, because I've been so clear about this with people, but at one time it was not uncommon for an acupuncture client to lie down and say, "I just want you to fix me."

My response is an unequivocal "No. I cannot fix you."

This often surprises - and sometimes even angers - people. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm serious.

No. I am not a fixer of people. There are two reasons for that.


The first is that I don't want that relationship with you.

It interests me exactly 0% to be in a position of authority like that over a person.

Some people crave an "expert" to tell them what to do, how to feel, what to think, how to approach life. And some "experts" crave people to tell what to do, how to feel, what to think, how to approach life. These people are made for each other, and I hope they'll be very happy together.

But my devotion is to healing, not to “fixing.” This is a distinction that matters.

If I am ill, wronged, hurting, or in need of some sort of professional service, it might be rational to assume that I should seek an expert… a doctor, lawyer, surgeon, a witch, whatever. Yes, it checks out that I want to find someone credentialed to engage with me about whatever my problem is.

But here’s the thing. Hiring authoritative experts can get real weird real quick.

I suggest that we tread the authority/expert terrain with utmost attention. In my experience, it is healthier to seek people with expertise in a field or technique. People with agility and curiosity and imagination and relevant experience - but people who do not consider themselves to be so expert that they have The Formula.

The Formula is cringe-worthy material. It is narrow. It is restrictive and unencompassing. It requires imposition of someone else’s will onto you, and it requires that you practice Absolute Obedience.

The Formula is:

  • a way of thinking

    • also known as not thinking

  • a way of life

    • also known as not living

  • a construct

    • also known as destructive

Because of its nature, you can likely see that The Formula shows up in every freaking industry humans have created.

Beware The Formula. (And respect it. It, too, is a teacher.)

For robust emotional health and growth it’s crucial, I think, to surround ourselves with people are aware (at least to some degree) of their own inner authority. Who do not fear to know themselves - or if they do sometimes fear it, who face that fear - at least some of the time. It doesn't have to be flawless. But it does require persistence.

These are the folks who bring awareness to their actions and thoughts. These are people who develop a formula that evolves as they do. A Formula. Now that’ll preach. “A” has lots more flexibility and scope than “the.”

Circling back to my little world now, my clients want my opinion - of course, or they wouldn't work with me - but they (and I) recognize it as my opinion. Not as the ultimate guiding authority.

As an acupuncturist, yes, I was the one with the needle "expertise." But if you were my client I was never the expert of your body. You are.

As a writer, yes, I am the one with the messaging and composition "expertise." But if you were my client I was not the expert over your core messages and values. You are.

There's a second reason I cannot fix you.

I don't believe you're broken.

You might be in pain, limited in a way that frustrates you, angry, giving up, heartsick, grieving, dying, confused, depressed, exhausted, lost, too much, not enough, traumatized, stuck, disempowered, afraid, and/or overwhelmed, but I will not treat you as if you are broken.

Systems can be broken; stuff can be broken. But in my understanding, it's antithetical to healing to treat people as broken.

People always have a chance at redemption and self-connection - whether the pain points are in the knees or the apostrophes - and healing is a practice. I hope that feels like good news.


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