How to Feel Supported and be a Great Support

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April 13, 2016



There is a part of me that still feels a little reluctant to share what is real for me (and I think that’s kinda natural). It can feel scary to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to open our hearts and to share our story. I’ve learnt though that for me, the internal rewards far outweigh the initial fear.

I’ve found that seeking support, talking with others and sharing my problems can help to reduce the feeling of stress inside and also to build my resilience. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. When we share what’s going on for us, it alleviates the emotional charge from the problem and lets it sit in a more neutral place where you can allow the solutions to gracefully come forward.

I’ve been reflecting this last week on being supported and being supportive and what I’m realising is that both aspects are active, engaged processes. We might think of being supported as being more passive but it’s actually quite active too. You can’t support someone who is unwilling to receive support and you’ll never feel supported unless you are willing to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to the possibility that someone else may be able to help you, may have the key to help you unlock the next level, even if that is purely in listening to what is going on for you.

So, here’s what I’ve identified as some of the steps in the process to supporting and being supported:

How to support:
– Ask how someone is or if they are okay
– Allow them to share their story
– Listen with an open heart and mind – try to listen to them actively rather than spending that time trying to think of your response (the response will come naturally when needed if you are actively listening)
– A lot of the time, the power of the support is in the listening, in allowing someone to be heard and accepted along with their struggle
– If you have feedback, deliver it gently, this person has just made themselves vulnerable by sharing themselves and needs to be treated accordingly – remember that support isn’t forceful, it’s an offering
– Accept that your feedback may be taken on or may not – your feedback will be coming from your point of view which whether you like it or not, means that it’s coming through your own personal filter of experience, in addition, the person you’re speaking with may simply not be in a place yet to receive that information and that’s okay too, you can still deliver it and if it’s going to be of use to them later they can draw on that again from their memory or ask you more about it
– Thank the person for sharing their story with you – this creates a feeling of safety for them – you are a safe place for them to share what’s going on for them.

How to be supported:
– Surround yourself with a handful of solid friends or family you can call on when things get tough
– Reach out to whoever you feel is most appropriate given the issue you are dealing with
– Allow yourself to feel vulnerable and drop into your heart space
– Be willing to share your story, putting aside your fear of what others may think of you
– Accept feedback with grace and also take it with a grain of salt (as well meaning as your peeps are, we all operate through our own filter so take what feels right to you and leave the rest)
– Be thankful and appreciative of the support you’ve received
– Notice what you liked and didn’t like about how you were supported so you can refine your own support skills (we’re all constantly learning and improving)
– Pay it forward – offer support to someone who sounds a bit off when you speak to them or looks like they are having a rough time

We all experience pain and struggle at points in our life and one of the most critical factors for us is in having support around us. Feeling supported by those around you starts with supporting yourself too; believing that you and your life are worthy and capable of being better.

There is a gratitude exercise you can try right now where you spend just three minutes thinking of all the people in your life who’s support you are grateful for. Go ahead, take the time right now, it will give you an instant buzz.

I feel blessed by the support around me. I’m also incredibly grateful that I now have the wisdom to call on that support when needed.

I’d love to hear from you. Can you add any other steps in the process to supporting or being supported?

Let me know in the comments below.

xx

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