In today’s society, it can be easy to think we’re supposed to be able to do everything ourselves, but the truth is, no one is an island. And the sooner we recognise that we need a support system, the sooner we can foster rewarding, healthy relationships.
These relationships whether with family, friends, colleagues or partners, are crucial to our success as well as our happiness.
So if you’re wondering what your support system might look like for you then keep reading. I’ll share what it is, why you need one, or more, and how to attract and foster healthy, happy and mutually beneficial relationships.
What is a support system
According to Merriam-Webster, a support system is ‘a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support’.
This can include a romantic partner, friends, family, colleagues, caregivers and professionals who provide guidance, assistance or encouragement. It does not need to be limited to the people you are closest to, but it does need to comprise of people you trust and respect, and who offer valuable insight and help when you need it.
These relationships may have developed organically in your life (like friends and family), but it can also include paid professionals who assist on an ‘as need’ basis.
Why we all need one (or more)
A support system is not simply about having people you can turn to in a time of need but instead, it’s about having people who help you live a joyful and fulfilling life as well. Yes, at times you may need help but this group also provide support when in the good times as well.
By having a support network, which comprises of thriving, healthy relationships, we are able to achieve more. These relationships should also be mutually beneficial, creating a win-win scenario.
You can consider having different support structures for each part of their life. Or you may prefer to think of it as everyone being part of a big web, and you can call upon different people in that community as and when you want to.
It is totally acceptable to seek out different people different things. Some people you may turn to for career advice and others to help juggle daily logistics. Not every person in your support network needs to know, or be involved in every area of your life. It’s up to you to decide who is involved in, and privy to, what.
Some people you may interact with daily and other it’s once a year. There are no set requirements. Just remember, you do you.
How to create a thriving support network
In order to have a great support network, we need to focus on having healthy relationships. Here are a few great ideas on how to do just that:
- Focus on the needs of others
Healthy relationships are founded on ‘give-and-take’. That is to say, both parties need to have benefit in the alliance. Ensure you are providing value to the other party by not focusing just on your needs, but also theirs as well. By being the person that shows up for them, they’ll reciprocate that when you want them to.
- Think strategically
Consider all areas of your life (e.g. your health, finances, career, romantic relationships, friends and family, spirituality etc.) and identify where you need help. Seek out people who have the skills, characteristic or experience you need and be open to getting help.
- Don’t expect your romantic relationship to fulfil all your emotional needs
A romantic relationship can be deeply fulfilling, but I don’t think it should be expected to fulfil all our emotional needs. Nor is having a partner a fast track to having a happier life.
So please, can we all take the pressure off and change our expectations on what a romantic relationship can actually do?
And whether you in a relationship or single, let’s focus on appreciating all the amazing relationships in our lives, be it our girlfriends, colleague, counsellor or dog.
- Understand love languages
Gary Chapman’s 5 Languages of Love are a great way to think about how we interact with people in our lives, as well as how we feel appreciation and love ourselves. This is a book I recommend for everyone, but if you want the cheat sheet, check this out.
You are awesome – I have absolutely no doubt about this!
Find people you respect, love and value and consciously make them part of your life and your support network.
And remember, the more you put into your relationships, the more you’ll get out of them.
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