Care and feeding of a good support system

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this lately. Your support system can make or break you, quite literally. I’ve seen and lived through the damage that is caused when a support system isn’t in place. A person’s family, friends, even Facebook friends make up that support system. Sometimes, you receive great support; other times, it falls flat. Sometimes, your “support” system is terribly toxic, and will do more damage than good. So how do you go about maintaining that support system?

1) Take control of YOUR support system.
Some people are simply toxic. We don’t always agree with people we love, even our parents, siblings, or spouses. That’s not what I’m taking about. I’m talking about those people who are a constant drain on you, physically, emotionally, whatever. Yes, relationships take work….but they don’t take every ounce of energy you have. If they do, get out of them. You should be able to receive as much energy as you give. It won’t always be equal, but it should level out at some point. You need to take personal responsibility for your surroundings, and that means ALL your surroundings.

2) Appreciate those who are trying to support you.
Even if you don’t agree with what they are trying to do for you, you need to appreciate the effort, or it will go away. My husband works incredibly long hours, in a very physical job, to support us. No, I can’t reciprocate by earning the same kind of money, or working the hours he does. What I can do is be HIS support system….I can manage the day to day running of the house, manage the finances, etc.  I can make sure he knows, beyond a doubt, that all the work he does is appreciated. It really does go a long way. This goes double for when he decides to take something off MY plate…I have had to learn not to quibble over the particulars. If he’s offering to wash the dishes because I hate doing them, then I shouldn’t complain if they aren’t done the way I would do them. At least I didn’t have to do them. 🙂

3) Tell people how they can best support you.
People are not mind readers. You can’t expect people to support you well if they don’t know what you need. I’m learning to be vocal. If I need the TV turned down, I try to explain WHY. If I need a hug, I will ask for it. If I need an hour to myself, I will ask someone to handle my responsibilities so I can take that hour. If I feel a meltdown coming on, I warn my family (whenever possible). No, I can’t always give people fair warning, but doing it when I can seems to help everyone involved.

4) Spread it out.
Don’t pile all your crap on one person. That’s simply not fair, and not practical. Not everyone is as good at handling certain things as someone else is. If I need to emotionally vent, I go to my wife. If I need well thought out, practical advice, I go to one husband;, if I need a good swift solution to a problem, I go to the other….everyone has their strengths. Try to use those strengths…it makes both of you feel more in control. Trying to get emotional support from someone who isn’t the emotional type will simply make you both frustrated.

5) Listen to your support.
If you trust them enough with your secrets and feelings, then trust them enough to have your best interests at heart. It’s difficult sometimes to remember to listen when you’re in the middle of a personal crisis. But it’s important to you and to them…you trust these people for a reason…so TRUST them.

These are just a few of the things I can think of, but it’s a good starting place. I put this here for myself, mainly. I need reminders sometimes, just like everyone else. Good support systems take work, from ALL involved.

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