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FAMILY FUSION: Misplaced mechanics

Reverend Haynesley Griffith

FAMILY FUSION: Misplaced mechanics

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“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am coming across too many “mechanics” who believe they are qualified to liberate some people who are “stuck in gear”.

Many years ago, a friend told me that a man who claimed to be an experienced mechanic had offered to fix the gearbox of a vehicle that was having some transmission issues.

When the owner of that vehicle returned a few days later, the mechanic informed him it was fixed and working, but there were a few small screws that were left back and he was not sure from where they came. Can you imagine the look on the owner’s face when he heard the report of the mechanic?  

Last week I wrote of individuals who become stuck in life’s gear because of various hurtful past experiences, or simply refuse to develop their God-given capabilities.

 Interestingly, these “stuck” persons seem to attract individuals who believe that they can get these broken lives moving again. These “mechanics”, as I choose to call them, can sometimes view these “stuck” persons as projects and try to fix them so that at the end of the day, the pleasure of satisfaction of a job well done can be theirs to enjoy.

These “good Samaritans” often end up being emotionally attached to these “stuck” individuals and may sometimes go the route of marriage in order to get very close to their projects. When the “stuck” person does not yield to the tools of the “mechanic”, numerous agonising hardships such as domestic abuse, separation, divorce and emotionally scarred children may result. Some individuals who try to fix people are often unaware that it is extremely challenging to get a person out of the “stuck in gear” position.    

I have seen repeatedly over the years within the Caribbean and beyond, several instances of loving, caring and compassionate people who venture out to get individuals out of “stuck positions”.

There are young intelligent females who are very astute goal- setters, work diligently and are academically sound. Career-wise, these females are positioned in professions that they love and are doing very well, and have even secured some much-needed assets including real estate.

Unfortunately, some of these females may become attracted to males who are “stuck in gear” and who seem to think that honest work is a disease and therefore avoiding it is a normal daily pastime. What I have found is that some females, in their desire to get males out of their jammed state, begin to enable them.  

Some females speak of how such males would drain them financially and emotionally, make them feel guilty when they do not help them in their wrongdoings, threaten to commit suicide if they leave them, abuse them and shortly after the unjust acts, suddenly become very loving and caring.

I recall one female who tried for years to make a male “project” fit into a mould of her own design, but he just would not conform and the whole exercise frustrated her and made her sick. Fortunately, she was able to leave the male in his contented stuck state and move on with her life. Some other women are not that fortunate.  

I also know of men whose track record of positive accomplishments are envied by others but who themselves also link with females who lack ambition and drive. These men believe they are the best “mechanics” to get females ejected from their “stuck” position to a progressive place in society. Many men have reported that they regret the day they started out on the journey to fix these females because of the many horrors they have had to go through. I recall a husband who spoke of doing everything to make his wife the woman she is today, academically and otherwise, and one day she turned and told him that she never asked him to help her.

Like the mechanic to whom I earlier made reference who had some important screws in his possession after he attempted to correct a transmission problem, both male and female “mechanics” must first seek to have a relatively good knowledge of their candidates’ faulty “gearbox” before attempting to fix them.

This is where seeking good counsel from trusted friends and health-care providers can help you avoid a bumpy ride in life. When it comes to marriage, you should see pre-marital counselling as critically important because it will greatly assist in making you and your partner aware of certain personal and practical issues.

There is a flip side however to some people who desire to take on the role of trying to correct the perceived faults in others. Individuals may have deep-seated, unresolved, emotional childhood issues which they may see reflected in others. The quest therefore to fix these individuals is sometimes an attempt by these “mechanics” to bring some resolve to their own unsettled emotions.

These individuals acquire a great deal of satisfaction if the one they choose is compliant and conform to their many dictates. If, on the other hand, the protégé does not comply, then frustration, anger and other negative emotions may become evident.

I am aware of instances when the expectations of these hurting males and females are not met. They then begin to use subtle control tactics in an attempt to pressure their subjects to bend in their direction.

Here are some signs that may indicate that you may be a “misplaced mechanic”:

• If your focus is on making yourself feel good and not helping the individual to develop his or her capabilities with no strings attached.

• If you think you have to rescue and fix people and stick with them no matter how disrespectful they may be treating you.

• If you are continually feeling hurt when your work with the individual is not recognised.

• If you feel you have to hold on to the relationship at any cost and the fear of releasing him or her becomes increasingly difficult.

Be careful that in seeking to fix others, that you do not find yourself “stuck in gear”.

• Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant.