Fixing What Isn't Broken

Where pure intentions need to be met with understanding

Once again, this week’s Love to Think was inspired by a quote that I read and it’s led to a topic that I haven’t spoken directly about for a while. Mental Health. Not only mental health as a whole, but the way that mental health troubles are approached (for the most part) by those of us who are confidants for people when they’re feeling low. The quote was short and it got to the point.

Not Broken. Please don’t try to fix.”

As simple as that quote is, it does speak to a big stigma when it comes to supporting those who are having any troubles with their emotional wellbeing. I think the key word is supporting, which can often be misinterpreted in those situations. As a person who has been open about my struggles in the past, a lot of people’s instinct when it comes to showing support is to fill the role of "fixer” and see my current state as broken.

Whether it’s pressuring someone to get dressed up and go out, inviting yourself around to someone’s house or a list of other things that people do in order to “fix” someone’s feelings, it can be incredibly challenging to be seen as someone who needs to be fixed, especially when you’re already in a potentially fragile space.

I guess it’s birthed from wanting someone that you care for to not be unhappy, as well as feeding the part of us that feels good through problem-solving and helping others. Although it’s innocent and virtuous in intention, I believe seeing someone at a an emotional low-point as broken (consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously) is far more detrimental to the conversation of mental health than we realise. I also think that one of the greatest blessings that comes from being a human being is the ability to feel a wide range of emotions.

Experiencing depression, anxiety and/or any other mental/emotional challenges doesn’t mean you’re broken, it makes you human.

My personal advice has been to let the person know that I hear them, ask them if they would like to talk about it and let them know that I’m there for them if they need anything. I do my best to approach the situation with curiosity more so than a desire to look for a resolution. That person may continue to live in that state and tell you that they’re fine. I appreciate it can be frustrating.

It’s important to understand that a person may not approach you with their troubles with the hopes of them being fixed, but with the intention that a problem shared is a problem halved.

I personally have 1 or 2 friends that I open up to in that way because I know they understand that I’m not their problem to fix, but I respect them greatly; I choose to be transparent about where I am emotionally. Good or bad. They may provide a perspective that helps or they may provide the comfort of knowing that they’re there for me. One thing I know is that I won’t come out of the conversation feeling like I’m wrong for not being at my best.

I’ve got no doubt that as you’re reading this, you’ll be called upon as a confidant and a compassionate ear for someone in their time of need. If you’re able to approach that with the understanding that most (if not all) emotional states are temporary and the best form of support may simply be your presence, you could be the reason that one more person take a positive step forward with their emotionally and mental wellbeing.

One love, Luca :) x

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