Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Building Your Support System

Are you getting enough support? There are different kinds of support, and different people in your life may be able to fill different support roles. It's important to recognize that each of us needs support, identify your potential sources, ask for the support you want, develop new support systems, and recognize your own role in supporting others towards their goals. There is lots of proof that support from family and friends not only correlates with more success in achieving academic, career and personal goals, but also helps people cope better with challenges, loss, and setbacks. Strong support can help you deal better when things in your life are stressful.

Even something as basic as getting in shape and getting to a healthy weight, or taking better care of your health is easier to achieve if your friends and family are supportive. Your family can help your efforts by encouraging you to do active, calorie-burning activities with them, or being careful about what they bring home from the grocery store. On the flip side, family and friends can influence you negatively by undermining your health efforts, whining when you make healthier choices, or insisting on the traditional high-fat foods or sedentary activities you have bonded over in the past. Some studies report that the weight and health choices of our family and friends can be a good predictor for how we are going to do with our own food and exercises choices.

Asking for the support you need is key. Your partner, family, and friends may be very willing to help support your goals if you ask. They are not clairvoyant, so don't assume they won't help just because you haven't asked. Be specific with your important support people about how they can be supportive of your goal. You may be very pleasantly surprised!

Great relationships require MUTUAL support, meaning that you not only ask for it yourself and receive it graciously, but that you also ask the people you care about how you can be more supportive of them--and do it! Strong relationships are mutually supportive, not one-way.

There are different kinds of support and different roles that need to be played. Think about a goal that you have, and list the various kinds of support you could use. For example, if you are working on getting in better physical health, perhaps you could list: walk with me, go to the gym with me, make encouraging statements, use care in choosing groceries that are brought home, choose restaurants where I can find something healthy on the menu, etc. Next, think about who you can ask to help you in each area.

There are different types of support:

Emotional Support-listening, encouragement, being there, celebrating your progress towards your goal with you

Practical Support- tasks, errands, assistance

Challenging Support-motivating and questioning if you are doing what you need to do to get to your goal

Informational Support-Gathering information, teaching you skills

This week, you may want to have some fun, and add some interest to your conversations with your key loved ones and friends about how you can be more supportive of them, and ask them for the specific kinds of support that will help you achieve your own important goals.

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