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Understanding Social Support

We all have to learn how to weather the storm, and part of going through tough times effectively is by being able to enlist the help of supportive family and friends. How well do you garner social support when you need it? One aspect of difficulty in dealing with adversity is the uncomfortable feeling of isolation and disconnection. When you’re faced with a difficult task, feeling like you have to face it alone makes the task significantly more daunting. One simple way of raising your resilience is developing this social support. Try evaluating these various areas and notice if there are any that you believe can be improved or adjusted:

Trust

How do you determine someone is trustworthy or not? Who or which group is safe for you in your life right now? Do you know someone who you feel confident asking  for help with feeling judged or criticized? Identify the people you would consider social support during difficult moments in life.

Balance of Independence and Dependence

Do you have a healthy balance of doing things on your own and knowing when to ask for help? Do you find yourself struggling and thinking it would be easier with someone there? How effective are you at noticing when something is beyond what you can handle? Understanding your tendency for independence can help you be aware of moments when you can check if you really can do it on your own or not.

Taking Initiative

Reflect; If seeking help does not come naturally for you, identify your roadblocks. What is stopping you from asking and preventing you from taking that step to reach out? Fear of being judged? Fear of being seen as weak? Begin practicing with little things that may not be so serious. Talk with a close support about your hesistencies to reaching out to them and see how they respond to your anxieties. This can also be a way to develop closer relationships with people by letting them know that you depend on them.

Creating and Keeping Strong Relationships

Developing social support may be the easiest or the most difficult thing to do for you. You may need to make small adjustments or you may need to place a lot more effort into cultivating strong relationships. Either way, these changes will make facing adversity seem more manageable. You can fight the feeling of isolation when you know you have these strong relationships alongside you. A big part of resiliency is not feeling like you have to face your struggles alone. Many stories of resilient people share a similar theme of them finding strength in the fact that they have supportive people, either directly or indirectly.  If you’re finding yourself struggling to identify or create strong relationships with people, reach out for help. You’re not alone in trying to develop meaningful connections. We all have different wounds that make it hard to become close with someone, and it takes time and support. Having a good understanding of that is the first piece to making steps toward strong relationships.

Written by therapist Daniel Pak

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