Support Network

Weaving a support network for ourselves throughout life really helps us during challenging times. This sounds so obvious and yet it is not always that straight forward.

Different Cases

If I look around me I see so many different scenarios: Carol will talk to anybody if she needs to solve a problem. She is quite willing to ask advice from all kinds of people who may be able to help her. It is amazing how often these connections open door for her to the “right” person. She has a few close friends in her support network to talk about more personal matters.

Gaynor on the other hand is very independent. She would not even think of asking anyone for their input. She does her own research, weighs up options and makes a decision. Recently she commented that she has never even thought of tapping into her circle of friends for advice on certain matters. She has a social network as opposed to a support network.

Paul is a strong intellectual. Mostly he does his homework on issues and then takes action. His support network consists of other intellectuals off whom he bounces ideas or whom he will consult. To him it is a mutually beneficial arrangement. So Paul’s support network consists of people who are his equal in many ways. His personal issues are dealt with in quite a rational manner.

Karen who grew up in quite a turbulent home and happened to marry a difficult man finds her refuge in a sewing hobby. She finds people draining and has a strong philosophy of allowing situations to unfold. She believes that just given time to ponder and reflect about challenges, these will just become resolved over time. As a result Karen has no support network, out of choice.

Mark, a retired managing director, used to talk to his wife about the dynamics at work. After a bad experience he decided he could not trust any of his colleagues again.

Sydney is a corporate executive. His support network is a handful of friends with whom he grew up and whom he trusts implicitly. He is quite comfortable speaking to them about politics and dynamics at work. Tembi is also in an executive position. He is inclined to figure things out for himself as he is well aware that you need to be careful to whom you speak in the business world.

Typical Factors Affecting Trust and Support

It is evident therefore that a lot depends on our personality as to whether we seek out a support network or not. The core issue often is whether we can truly trust the person with whom we are talking.

From experience it seems there are also other factors that play a role: few people are good at listening as opposed to just giving advice. Therefore we quickly learn not to talk to someone who actually is not interested in hearing us out.

Sometimes people feel they need to make us feel better by telling us a story of theirs which outdoes our dilemma: “My problem is bigger than yours”. Or they minimise our problem by saying everybody else also has similar issues so it is a universal problem. Soon we learn to stop talking to them too.

Wise Elders

The most rewarding network of support I have experienced are with men and women in their 70s or 80s. What is so special about them? There is an authenticity, a real connection that is often missing in other relationships. These elders listen: they refrain from trying to fix or rescue me. They hold a loving and caring space where we are two people sharing our life stories with each other. They avoid judging. Instead they seek to understand and honour my journey.

They somehow seem to bring the best out in me. When I think of them the following quote comes to mind:

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me”. George Elliot.

If you are feeling somewhat isolated and lacking a support network, you could benefit from coaching.

Posted in Relationships.