Do you have a good support system? Have you ever really given it much thought?
A good friend of mine once told me about a lesson she learned in therapy. It is all about building a web of support. She went on to explain that if you only have one person or very few people in your support circle, it is very easy to topple it all over. I picture it like trying to balance something on my fingers. Lets say it is a tray of food. If you only use one finger or two, it can be done but it is just as easily foiled by the gentlest of breezes. A completely broken mess is almost inevitable.
If you use your whole hand or both hands, it is far more difficult to knock that tray off. You can grab it with 2 hands, hold it steady, put one hand on top and one underneath if necessary. It takes a really strong force to upset it before it becomes the same broken mess.
Our support circle is no different. If you only have one or two people in your life, it is very easy to feel as if you have no support if that person becomes busy or is not there when you want them. It is also very stressful on that one special person even if they are also doing it to you.
If your support circle is larger and more diverse, it is so much more difficult for life to knock you over. If one friend is not home, you can call another, if they are not home either, you can walk to that coffee shop where they all know your name. If that fails as well? You can call someone from a support group that you’ve joined or a sponsor if you deal with addictions.
So many people do not have this wide support network built for themselves. I certainly didn’t. I had all my eggs laid in one basket and when that person disappeared for whatever the reason, I was screwed (for lack of a better word).
I also had people in my support circle who should not have been there. They were warm bodies filling space but they were not at all supportive. These people did a great job at creating situations where my one support was really put to the test. This was not at all fair to anyone involved.
So how do you change that? If you are dealing with people who should not be in your circle or your circle is very tiny, how do you go about improving that?
I can tell you what i have done. Maybe it will help you as well. 🙂
The first thing I did was start saying goodbye to the damaging, non-supportive people in my life. This was HARD to do because I feared the loneliness that would surely follow… and it did. This also left me with more time though. Time that I used to build a stronger network. Truthfully? Looking back now? I really didn’t have to look all that far. There were lovely people all over the place that I had just largely ignored or assumed they would not want me closer to them. I also wore blinders and didn’t really look beside or behind me. Only at what was directly in front.
Support and good people can be found in a lot of places. It doesn’t matter if you live in a very rural place (as I do) or a bustling city, whether you are young or old, fit or unfit, metal stability doesn’t even need to be an issue. There are people and programs out there that anyone can fit in to. You just need to look for what is right for you.
Some suggestions? You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging right? 😉
- Look around you first. Who is there that you can count on. Pull them closer and offer them the sane support.
- Family would be my next step. If your birth family is a bunch of useless knobs like some blogger I know very well, 😉 look to the family you are creating, your spouse’s family, or begin creating a family out of people who begin to really care about you. It takes time but it’s worth it.
- Churches are a good place to find support if you enjoy Church. I don’t so I look to other groups instead. Join in to a class or group. Help out in some way. Churches always seem to be in need of help and this in turn helps you feel good about yourself.
- Most people have access to a community centre, mental health unit, a hospital, or more specific organizations. If you look around and ask questions, you will find groups that are run, support that is offered, chances to learn to skills, and so much more but you need to look. These things don’t just fall in to our laps very often. 🙂 If you are in therapy or have a good doctor, ask him/her. Quite often they have information about a ton of things that they just do not share with everyone due to time constraints. If you ask though? Out comes the folder!
- Volunteering is also a great way to meet people. Volunteer somewhere that you know you will love. If you are smitten with animals? Volunteer at a (non-kill) shelter. If you love seniors? There are thousands of seniors who have no one in their lives. Become a special person in their life while improving yours too. If you are a medical geek like I am? Volunteer at a hospital or offer to help run a group if you feel capable of that. Even if all you do is hand out papers. 🙂 There is no limit to the places that need volunteer helpers and helping others makes you feel good too PLUS it builds your support circle with like-minded people.
- If getting around or money is a big issue, join an online group. I run one that is targeted towards people with Complex PTSD and I focus on positive questions and healing discussions. You may need to look around a fair bit before you find something that really clicks with you but there are thousands out there. Just start looking and then when you join? PARTICIPATE! Just adding your name to a members list does you no good. I’ve met and keep up with some of my best friends online.
- Certain agencies will also help you fill needs you have in trade for time given to them. When my children were very young and my budget was smaller than a speck of sand, we were constantly low on food in the house. I offered to help out a local play group in return for my children being there as well but they also saved any unused snacks after each session and gave them to me. Fruit, cookies, juices… in trade for me picking up toys, wiping down tables and helping the children with their needs. If you really look and are wiling to ask? There ARE people out there willing to help IF they know you have a need.
My support “circle” used to be rather anemic but with a lot of effort and a lot of reaching out, it’s grown nicely and that includes those of you who read my blog and have been so supportive. Thank you for all you do to make me feel welcome in this blogging world.
We can all have a much more robust circle and I hope you will strive for that. You are worthy of more good in your life. You deserve more support. Just keep reaching out and also be sure to thank the people who are already part of your “team”.