The 4 parts of a complete support system
What are the elements of your support system?
You probably have in mind the people in your life who help you and guide you. And having supportive people is vital to taking care of yourself. But there's more to a support system than that.
As part of Integrated Self-Care, my clients explore their support system - what works, what doesn't, what support they have, and what support they still need.
In this work, we use a definition of support system that includes 4 types of supports: people, places, things, and beliefs.
This is great news! Because you can rely on more than just the people in your life to help get you through.
Let's investigate each of these 4 types - in reverse order, because why not? - and how they can each be helpful in creating an intentional life for yourself.
The beliefs you hold to be true are part of your support system. Ideas like "I am a good person" or "I deserve to have a happy life" or "life can be hard sometimes and that's okay" are important backbones to get you through stressful times.
Your beliefs also partially determine whether you will allow yourself to seek out other types of support.
What beliefs do you hold that support you in your efforts to take care of yourself?
Objects can be part of your support system!
Think about the dishwasher that helps you manage your dirty dishes. Or the photo album that makes you laugh every time you leaf through. Or your phone that helps you connect with people who are far away.
Maybe it's a book that comforts you. Or a workbook that reminds you of how you can take care of yourself without ditching your responsibilities.
Okay, you get the point. Don't discount these objects! They are part of your support system, too.
Your environment can agitate you or comfort you.
At the end of a long day, returning to a home that brings you joy can erase your earlier difficulties.
Conversely, a space that puts you on edge (hopefully not your whole home, but maybe the messy basement or a busy bar) will not relieve you of any stress.
Think about the places that make you feel warm and cozy - how can you incorporate more of those places into your concept of your support system?
And, of course, the well-known leg of the support system, the people.
It's not only the best friend or partner, though. The co-worker who makes you smile is part of your support system. So is the friend of a friend who always includes you in outings.
Your life coach or therapist is part of your support system. And include pets in this category if your fuzzy friends bring you comfort!
Take this opportunity to reflect on all of the aspects of your support system.
Write them down!
Not only is it encouraging to see a more robust list of support than you may have initially considered, but it will be a handy list to have on hand for moments of overwhelm.
What comes next? Figuring out how you can better take advantage of your support system to create the life you want to see. If you want serious support to make these changes and make them last, take a look at Integrated Self-Care.
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