Personal Growth

Compulsive Helping and Why You Need to Stop

Is compulsive helping a part of your daily life? You just love giving advice and helping people, almost to the point of you having the need to fix everything! While you mean well, over giving is bad for you in the long run. 

There is unfortunately an ugly side of over giving. The psychological benefits of breaking this habit will ASTOUND YOU.

This article contains:

  1. What is a fixer personality? Signs that you’re a fixer.
  2. Why you’re an over giver.
  3. Why compulsive helping is actually bad for you.
  4. Overcoming the need to fix: The steps you need to take
How to stop compulsive helping

What is a Fixer Personality? Signs That You’re a Fixer

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you might have seen yourself in the title. This is a good sign, because identifying this trait is the first step in overcoming the need to fix.

To put it bluntly, you have a fixer personality if you love to solve problems for other people and find it validating

A lot of the times, you might even treat these people like projects that need a bit of TLC.

You might also have a higher chance of being a fixer if you identify as a highly sensitive person. HSPs are people who can sense and respond to people’s emotions quicker than the average person. They:

  • Sense people’s emotions without them saying it or without that person displaying obvious signs of feeling that way.
  • Absorb people’s energies a little too well.
  • Feel things very deeply and have a good gut feeling.

Does this sound like you? If not, don’t worry, you could still have a fixer personality! 

The whole point of being a fixer is the whole caregiver archetype. Not only do you love helping people, but you might sometimes take over for them in their time of need.

You’re like a parent figure for them! You see the good in everyone and tend to be a people pleaser if you need to fix things.

A mini quiz: Do you have a fixer personality?

Still not sure? Here are the main signs you need to look out for that you or someone else has a fixer personality:

  1. You seem to attract manipulative people and narcissists;
  2. People tend to open up to you really quickly;
  3. People tell you about their problems, even when you don’t ask;
  4. You love to be the one people rely on, and love to be needed;
  5. You’re pretty empathetic;
  6. Setting boundaries is something you struggle with;
  7. You have a hard time not caring about things or people;
  8. A lot of times, you get overstimulated quickly;
  9. You can’t help but give suggestions even when no one asks you.
  10. You hate seeing people struggle, to the point of it making you sick.
Highly Sensitive People are often compulsive helpers.

If you can relate to most of these statements, you have a need to fix, my friend!

Why You’re an Over Giver

Giving is something totally natural that everyone does! Over giving, however, is something that you had to learn to do.

For most people, compulsive helping is something developed at a certain point in childhood. This is a skill you took on and transferred in your adult life.

Let’s Talk About Your Childhood

So, compulsive helping started out when you were a kid as a coping mechanism! Let’s give you some examples of how the need to fix might have helped you out in the past:

  • You might have had fighting parents. To keep the peace, you stepped in as a mediator to make everyone happy again.
  • You had an adult in your life who was unstable. They either got angry or sad, and you played the role of a therapist to make them happy.

Those are just two examples, but you might have had to take on an over giver role anytime things were unstable in your life. You were the glue keeping everything on track!

It’s a survival mechanism. No one likes chaos, so to make the environment happy again, you fixed it. 

Since you might be a highly sensitive person, the negative energy might have been too much for you to handle, so you fixed it. Learning to leave a situation was definitely not something you did.

PLEASE NOTE: You didn’t have to have a chaotic life or absolutely terrible adult role models to become a fixer. It can happen with any degree of chaos.

Over Giving is a Trick You Still Use

Over giving in a situation is still a trick you might be using in adulthood.

You might find yourself interacting with a lot of toxic people. Why do people like that find me? You’re probably asking yourself.

Well. I have the solution for you!

Toxic people love the fact that you do a lot of compulsive helping.

Stay with me. 

You might be unconsciously attracting toxic people to fix them. Fixing them might be giving you a sense of control.

You take on the familiar role of a caregiver and help these people work on themselves. Cute, right?

Sure, except when dealing with manipulative people.

  • In abusive situations, we baby abusive people to overpower their toxicity. This can be super exhausting for us, but it might have negative effects on them.
  • You try to fix them to make the situation happy and less toxic.
  • It doesn’t work. They ask for even more help, or their behaviour gets worse.

Your need to fix things can actually put you in a tough situation when dealing with manipulative people. Gotta be careful!

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Toxic People

With Compulsive Helping is Actually Bad for You

I gave you a little taste of why compulsive helping is bad in the last section, but let’s get into more specific reasons of why it’s bad.

Trying too hard to change something might make it worse.

While your intentions might be pure, trying to help people might make it worse. They might resent you always butting in, or might think of it as being a personal attack on them.

Your relationships are codependent. 

Codependent relationships are unhealthy.

Codependent relationships are unhealthy relationships because you enable one another. You have someone you use for your compulsive helping tendencies, and they have someone who can baby them.

You’re avoiding what’s going on in your life.

Sure, helping other people makes you feel good about yourself! It’s just a distraction, though. By spending your time satisfying your need to fix people, you don’t have the time or energy to focus on your own problems. Helpful, when you have things you want to avoid.

You’re enabling them by compulsively helping.

Compulsive helping is actually hurting your friends and family in the long run.

Mistakes and making tough decisions build character. It results in a lot of personal growth.

If you’re helping people so much to the point of them not making those tough decisions, you’re hurting them in the long run. You’re accidentally hindering that personal growth!

People need to make mistakes to learn, and if they can’t do that, they might become dependent on your help. You would be enabling that stagnancy.

Your energy is being wasted.

Sucks to say, but people will only change if they want to change. That means that you could be giving the best advice in the world, but it’ll fall on deaf ears if they don’t want to change.

All that brainpower you put into helping people is being wasted!

What’s even worse is if you’re trying to help someone who always asks for help. This is because of 2 reasons:

  • If they actually took your advice, they wouldn’t need your help so much.
  • Your energy is so frequently drained.

Honey, you’re spreading yourself way too thin. Your mental health deteriorates by spending so much of your resources on these people.

Your desire to help can be unethical.

If your fixer personality is so extreme to the point of breaking rules, that could reflect poorly on you.

Let’s say your friend asks you to help them cheat on a test. If you’re willing to help them because you feel bad for them, you might get in trouble.

You feel me? If you’re helping people do bad things, that’s bad.

Your relationships are transactional.

It’s a fact of life that some people out there use people for their own personal gain. You might be attracting people like that if you have a compulsive helping problem.

You might not even realize it, but you might have some relationships that depend on you doing things for the other person. This is super unhealthy!

Another important thing to note is that you might become resentful because you’re not valued for who you are, but what you do for them.

It might turn into a huge commitment.

This applies especially when you have a hard time saying no. 

Helping someone out just once can turn into this long-term commitment if you don’t set proper boundaries. People might take advantage of your compulsive helping tendency! They will keep asking you to do more and more for them, creating a huge commitment for you.

Take for example babysitting. Something you agree to do for just one night when your friend is in a pinch can turn into her being in a pinch almost every night. It won’t stop either, because you can’t say no!

Overcoming the Need to Fix: The Steps You Need to Take to Stop Your Compulsive Helping

Now that I’ve convinced you to fix your need to fix (oof, lots of fixing going on there), let’s look at a few ways you can work on this tendency:

Learn how to say no.

Say no to stop compulsive helping.

“No” is a complete sentence. It really is! 

It isn’t being rude to say no, it’s simply setting boundaries. 

Boundaries are necessary for a healthy relationship, and are absent in toxic ones. Relationships where you do a lot of compulsive helping are not healthy.

Not sure when to say no? Here are the main reasons why you can say no:

  • You don’t want to do it;
  • It would poorly affect your mental health;
  • It would be too consuming either with your time, energy or money.

If you’re unsure of how you want to word it when refusing to do something, here are 2 sentences you can use:

  • “I’m not comfortable with that”
  • “That doesn’t work for me”

You can edit those sentences to suit your particular situation, but they work! Healthy people will respect your decision and won’t push you on it.

Understand when you’re being baited.

Normal people ask for help when they need it and accept whatever answer you give, whether or not you accept to do it.

When you are being baited, you’re being led to offer your help without the other person having to explicitly ask you for help. Here are a few examples of sentences that are baits:

“God, I wish I knew someone who could help me.”

“I’d really love to move out of my apartment, but I have nowhere to go in the meantime.”

“I’d go eat out with you but I never have any money. I really want to go though.”

If you immediately get stressed out thinking of solutions to their problems or trying to help, stop and think before you get baited. This helps you avoid compulsive helping. Do not help these people, because the way they went about seeking help is extremely manipulative. 

Instead, sympathize with them. You can say something general like “that sucks” or “I’m sorry you have to go through that”. This preserves your mental energy and stops the manipulation. Resist the over giving tendencies!

Test your group of people.

When you refuse to do a task for them, do your friends insist or get mad? Or do they respect your decision and change the subject?

Healthy relationships are not transactional. People you surround yourself with should respect you when you say no.

Also, be aware of flattery. If you hear a sentence like this,

“Oh, but you’re just so helpful/good at this!”

Be aware that they’re trying to flatter you so you can change your answer. While this might not always be intention, just be aware that that’s what they’re doing.

Do a deep dive into your past and forgive yourself.

A lot of people find peace in understanding why they are the way that they are.

If you’re one of those people, take the time to reflect on events in your life that might have caused this. You can choose to do this yourself, or get the help of a therapist.

The end goal is to forgive your childhood self for doing the best that they could.

If anything, understand this one concept.

People will not improve unless they want the help.

You can send someone to therapy all you want, but only they can do the work necessary to improve. 

Wasting energy that you can spend on healing your childhood wound isn’t wise, and you deserve to heal.

Period.

Do you have issues with compulsive helping? Please pin this article on Pinterest if it was helpful to you.

Peace out!

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