Being Supportive, Or Trying To "Fix" Other People

How do we know whether we're being supportive of another person because it's the right and healthy thing to do, or if we are actually a person with the control issue of trying to "fix" people?

There IS a difference, and the difference is pretty significant. 

Often, those who are supportive of others either personally or professionally (or both) are accused of wanting to "fix" people, but is it really true? Or is it a projection from the accuser?
In other words, who's "issue" is it really, the person being accused of being a "fixer", or the the person who is doing the accusing?

One way to take a better look at one's own motives is to break things down to a simple, factual level, and take the emotional reactions out of those facts. 

Here are some questions we can ask:

What exactly is our relationship* with the person who we are being supportive toward? 
Are they a family member? A close friend? A romantic partner? A neighbor?
If they are a person who is part of our personal life, then it is completely appropriate to be supportive toward them on a personal level.
It's also appropriate to be supportive of a person who is a client, a patient, or a total stranger, as long as we are aware of how much support we can actually "afford" to give, and/or what is appropriate in a professional relationship.
Healthy boundaries are essential in making these decisions, drawing these "lines", and standing by one's own decisions and values.
(Taking time off from scheduled work, for example, to drive someone to the mall is clearly inappropriate, as is giving someone money that one needed to pay their utility bill. But taking time off of work to drive one's child to the doctor is absolutely appropriate, and should be expected.)

*Being supportive to a family member, partner, or close friend when they are experiencing hardship, trauma, or physical or mental illness is also appropriate, important, and usually much needed.
This is not "fixing", this is being a healthy member of a functional family group or society. Only those who don't know the difference between "support" and "codependency", OR those with Narcissism issues would see healthy and appropriate supportiveness toward another person as "unhealthy".

When we are being "supportive" of another person, do we RESPECT that person as a human being?
Or do we think of that person as "lesser" than ourselves, defective, lower status, ignorant, incapable, less important?
People who like to "fix" others tend to see other people as either "superior" or "inferior", and often choose those whom they think they can lord over to "FIX".
Basically, they think "if this person was smarter, or neater, or tougher, more like ME, they'd be a lot 'better', like ME."
They tend to IGNORE or TWIST the person's character, strengths, accomplishments, intelligence, and abilities in order to make the person FIT INTO A SMALLER BOX in their mind, so they can maintain their view of the person being "inferior".
If this is you, then some self-reflection may be in order.

HOW do we give support to the other person?
Are we actually "supportive", or are we really just seeking an opportunity to feel dominant?

Do we give them advice when they ASK for it, or do we just give them advice because it makes us feel smart or superior?
Do we know the difference between respectful support and condescension, insult, or control?
Do we try to sabotage their AUTONOMY and SELF-CONFIDENCE by trying to force our "support" on them?
Do we INSULT them, BELITTLE them, or JUDGE them when they aren't following our "advice"?
Do we TAKE AWAY our "support" in order to "punish them"?
Do we GIVE THEM THINGS only when they DON'T ASK, but we DENY THEIR REQUESTS  when they DO ASK?
Do we tend to "suggest" things FOR them, but don't want to hear any "suggestions" FROM them? 
When they don't ask for it, do we ASK THEM if they want to hear our insight?
Do we know how to respectfully share our point of view when they don't ask for it, but WITHOUT judgment or condescension?
Can we take "NO" for an answer from them, or do we get OFFENDED when they say "no"?
Do we GIVE THEM ASSISTANCE, SUPPORT, or HELP as long as they "know their place" (as in, 'lower' than ourselves)?

What are WE getting out of being supportive toward the person?
Are we honestly doing it because it's the right and healthy thing to do, or are we doing it because it makes us feel like a "good person", or like we're in control, or like we don't have any "problems" compared to them? Are we trying to "prove" that we're worthy or a "good person" either to others or to ourselves? Are we trying to get "points" from someone? 
If these questions hit home, then some re-examining of our motives and priorities may be in order, and helpful for both the other person and ourselves.

Are we being supportive of a person because we have nothing else to do?
Then really, we're using the person to make ourselves feel better, to alleviate boredom or loneliness. ~HOWEVER, this is not necessarily a reason to simply STOP being supportive toward someone; being supportive toward someone who actually NEEDS IT is never BAD or DUMB, even if we're only doing it to improve our own lives. There are MANY, MANY people in the world who don't have ANYONE to be supportive toward them at all, so look around and weigh the pros and cons for the OTHER person as well as yourself.
If you abruptly remove your support, will you leave them in a lurch?

Are we giving support in order to GET something from the other person?
For example, do we offer them the use of our car, but only when WE want something from the store? Do we invite them over for coffee to "talk", and while they're visiting, we try to get them to fix our sink, or a hole in the wall, or the computer?
Do we feign support toward them in order to gain their companionship, their associations, their approval, their assistance, or physical things like access to their possessions, or sexual contact?
Do we ever just BE SUPPORTIVE of them without trying to get something FROM them?
Clearly, this needs no further explanation.

Do we "support" a person, and then spread rumors and gossip about them behind their back?

Do we know the difference between "venting"/ seeking support for ourselves, and GOSSIP?
We all need support at one time or another, and when we're being supportive of others, we may need extra support in order to sort things out and keep ourselves and our boundaries healthy. We may also want to gather more support for the other person from others who respect and care about them.
Reaching out for this support is completely appropriate, however when we talk about someone we are supposedly "helping" with contempt, with the intention of getting others to feel SORRY FOR US, or trying to turn others AGAINST the person, this is NOT "reaching out for support", this is gossip, slander, manipulation, and backstabbing. 

Are we allowing another person to take, judge, or rule over our possessions, our resources, our time, and our personal space, or dictate what our decisions should be? Do we have a HARD TIME SAYING "NO" when it's appropriate to say "NO"? By the time we DO say "NO", or stand up for ourselves, are we feeling some kind of rage or resentment?
(Like when we can't really afford to go to a certain restaurant, and the other person is not offering to pay? Or when someone TELLS us what The Plans for the weekend are, instead of asking or inviting? Or when someone bosses us around, or criticizes us? )

This is "Codependency", not "supportiveness". If this rings a bell for you, please click the link and read, and even if it doesn't ring a bell, it's worth reading for any human being who lives with or around other human beings. We Humans are highly susceptible to Codependency just because of the the fact that we're "social animals".

Do we like to be the one who is giving advice or support, but we get resentful or feel "controlled" or "emasculated" whenever someone suggests anything, or doesn't completely agree with us, or doesn't allow us to "run the show"? Do we have to be the one with the "information", do we often "correct" people when they talk, do we tend to claim that our own preferences and opinions are the right ones (like which pizza parlor is the best one in town, or what the best route is to the highway)?
This is also a sign of "Codependency", and it might also be a sign of something else along with it. These feelings of defensiveness, reactivity, and needing to be seen as the "knowledgeable" or "experienced one" show that a person is only comfortable when they feel like they have Control, and like they are trying to be an "authority" over others. This means the person will RESENT anyone whom they are trying to be an "authority" over, who does not ALLOW them to be. A person with these kind of issues is not actually able to be "supportive" of another person, because they will immediately see anyone who needs support as a lower person, and as a target for their "authority".

BEING SUPPORTIVE TOWARD OTHERS is absolutely appropriate, and essential for a family, group, community, or society to function in a healthy manner. 

A big part of being a member of a healthy family or group is knowing and understanding what  healthy and genuine support looks like, when we are either RECEIVING IT or GIVING iT. 
ALL humans need support and help from others at many different points in their lives, for many different reasons. It doesn't mean a person is "weak" or a "loser", unless we want to call EVERY HUMAN who ever LIVED a "loser", which definitely would NOT be in the category of "healthy". 

When we're genuinely supportive toward others, we are respectful, we are courteous, we behave appropriately, and we don't keep a TALLY, or try to "rank" another as "lesser" than ourselves. We aren't giving support in order to GET something, like credit, recognition, a feeling of supremacy, sympathy, quid pro quo, access, or "reward". We don't give more than we can honestly afford as a rule, either emotionally or materially, so we don't end up feeling resentful.

When we're receiving support in a healthy way, we don't feel ENTITLED to MORE support than others, we don't make DEMANDS on people who are giving their support, nor do we feel like "Losers" when someone is giving us assistance, because we don't think of other people as "lower" than us. We don't criticize those giving us genuine support, nor do we behave with hostility, arrogance, or manipulation toward them. 

When our BOUNDARIES are healthy, it is easier to tell the difference between healthy and genuine support, and unhealthy, codependent or manipulative "support", both from others, and from ourselves.