When we were younger, life seemed so easy. If you felt mad, sad, or glad, you could just pass a note with a “pull here” tab. You could whisper on the playground. Yell in the backyard. You could talk all night at a slumber party or at the mall while getting your ears pierced. When you got older, it was parties, dorm rooms, friends basements, after parties and concerts. It was easy to connect, to vent, to cry and to laugh.
Then life happened. It got stressful. We got busier. We moved away. They moved away. Calls were reduced, writing letters was archaic and email was the new best thing. Social media emerged. Now, we have 1,000 friends all over the world. And still feel alone. Stressed and alone.
How did this happen? Who can we call when…
We are sick?
Our children are sick?
Our parents are dying?
Or pets go missing?
When we hate our jobs?
When we lose our jobs?
When divorce happens?
When we lose our way?
When the habit becomes an addiction?
When we are simply lonely?
When we hate life?
When we are running out of hope?
Life can be difficult and messy. Stress is a part of that challenge. With a good support system, not only can you navigate through these road bumps of life, but help improve problems on your own. And by dealing with problems overtime, you build emotional resilience not just for you, but to also help others. So how do you do it? You can lean into this:
Four Ways to Strengthen Your Social Support
Just like one size doesn’t fit all, the same goes for emotional support. You may have family members you talk with to deal with family issues. You may have a coworker you can confide in at work. You may have friend with whom you can discuss other issues such as relationships, raising kids or more. You may have the good fortune that someone can cover more than one need in your life. Just make sure that the people you confide in for emotional support are trustworthy and support you. Also, don’t have only one friend to be your emotional dumping ground. And speaking of dumping, anyone who is negative and consistently brings you down, release them. But what if you don’t have a lot of people in your life? Never fear. When it comes to emotional social support, it’s always quality over quantity.
Make the Time
When it comes to having a variety of people to support you, it’s vital that you create those relationships in advance. This means spending quality time with these people. Yes, you can use technology, but nothing beats face-to-face time. Making time means reaching out just to connect and not because you need something. In addition, be there for them in their time of need just as you would want them to be there for you.
By doing things that bring you joy in life, you can meet others who have your same interests. This is a good way to start introducing new people into your life. It will take time to create the friendship, but in the meantime, you can enjoy what you love while cultivating new relationships.
Ask. Ask. And Ask.
If you are looking for a specific support, you may not find it in your close circle. You may have to reach out to a group that can support you. If you have trouble socializing in general, have anxieties or bigger issues, ask for help with a therapist or a counselor. The more you ask, the more resources you will have not only to help yourself, but for others.
We are all here for a reason and that’s to help take care of each other. So do the work. It’s worth it. Find people you like and can trust and you would be there for them too. Cultivate all types of people. Make time to be patient and grow the relationship. When in doubt, ask them for help. And when you need them, they will be there for you to support and love you.
As, Shakespeare said, “Be to yourself as you would your friend.” I hope I’ve supported you today dear friend. Peace.