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You Cannot Solve Everyone’s Problems

“You cannot solve everyone’s problems”. When you hear this it seems obvious; however, it was one of the more difficult concepts for me to “get through my thick head”.

For years people, I mean just about anyone who knew me, would tell me it over and over. I would nod my head and swear I knew. Then the next time, sometimes with the next breath, I was back to trying to solve someone’s problem. I am sure that more than one person wanted to just grab me and shake me until I finally got it. Thank goodness they had more self-control of their impulses than I did.

I have been told that I am an empath.  Along with that is the fact that my personality type is the ‘rescuer/hero/protector’ personality type.

I went to absurd levels of thinking I could solve everyone’s problems. For example, one time my friend was at risk of losing their home and because I couldn’t “fix it” for them, I felt like I had failed.

Another time I went so far as to pray to be allowed to take any suffering that was intended for another person so they could have a happy life. It was someone who I wanted to be with, but couldn’t. Since I couldn’t be there with them to care for them and protect them, I wanted to take their pain. It was the last thing I could do to try to help them.

It wasn’t until I learned and got a handle on radical acceptance that I was able to finally break this habit. Radical acceptance finally let me comprehend one very important fact. The fact that there are things I just cannot ‘fix’, there are things beyond my control.

It was radical acceptance that helped me learn to put up boundaries. I still have to remind myself at times that I cannot solve everyone’s problems for them. I remind myself it is not just OK to want to help, that it is a good thing, but that I cannot solve everyone’s problems.

Two other key discoveries came out of this understanding. The first, if the problem does not get resolved, it is not my failure. It is simply something outside of my control, and that is OK. I cannot control everything.

The other important thing was that even though I want to help, I cannot take responsibility for another person’s problems. I can help them with their problems, but I cannot own their problems. 

What made this constant mindset of having to solve everyone’s problems  dangerous for me was that I would always try to solve everyone else’s problems while ignoring my own. I would neglect and bury my problems. I can assure you, that is not a healthy thing to do.

Posted: March 10th, 2013 under Uncategorized.

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