Develop A Support Group
Develop a support group of friends who contribute to a healthy spiritual and psychological life. Discover these simple and practical steps to happier living.
“Many people will walk in and out of your life. But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”― Eleanor Roosevelt
We all need people who fill the empty gaps in our lives, but one person can’t do that. We cannot expect our spouses, or any one person to meet all our needs. We need people who care about us, who want the best for us and are there for us, physically and emotionally. We need people who care enough to tell us the truth when we don’t want to hear it, but we know they are right. We need people we can complain to and hope they understand. We need people to hang out with, to have fun with. We need people to support us, friends who appreciate us and are loyal to us.
FRIENDS INCLUDE SOMEONE WITH WHOM TO:
- Talk to about your relationships with others
- Have fun
- Discuss philosophy
- Discuss politics
- Discuss theology
- Discuss work or business
- Discuss sports
- Share good news
- Complain to
- Calm you when you are reacting and out of control
- Understand you and like you anyway
- Provide advice, encouragement or mentoring.
- Just be there for you, listen to you and won’t try to solve your problems.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THESE FRIENDS? Put yourself in situations where you can talk to people. Consider network meetings, college alumni meetings; special interest meetings, those relating to hobbies or singles groups; political meetings; church meetings; join a gym; walk your dog; take a class, jog. The internet is not going to get you what you want. Even the matchmaking companies are beginning to realize that people need personal contact. Body language is a huge part of communication.
Go where you will meet many people. As you meet people, you will be narrowing the group down. If you meet one hundred people, you may find twenty-five people you want to get to know better. You will not meet them at once. It may take a year to meet one hundred new people and sort them out. Finding new friends takes time. You develop a casual relationship with them. Start with small talk. As time goes by, you may narrow it down to ten people. You spend more time with them, talk about more personal things. In the end, you may have one or two people with whom you connect. Over time, you develop trust. See Levels of Communication, page 110.
There is one situation to consider, however. Do not include sexual relationships. They are different. Everything changes in a sexually oriented relationship.
“Friends, you and me. You brought another friend. And then there were three. We started our group, our circle of friends and like that circle there is no beginning or end.” ―Eleanor Roosevelt
HOW DO I MAINTAIN THE FRIENDSHIP? Set aside time needed to develop a friendship. Plan it in your schedule. Make it a priority.
Consider e-mail and instant messaging to share details of your daily life. This helps build a solid friendship.
Be a friend to have a friend. Be patient with your friend. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry.”
If you are not comfortable with something your friend says or does, let him know. Calmly discuss any grievances. Do not hold in angry frustrations. Politely work things out.
Laugh with your friends when they are happy and cry with them when they are sad.
Ask your friends for a favor. How can you know you are important to them if you don’t feel you have the right to ask something of them? Give them a chance to be nice to you. The relationship needs to be in balance. Don’t keep track of who gave last and who received. A healthy friendship includes give and take on both sides.
You may decide to hire someone such as a coach to listen and advise you if you have not yet found that friend.
“When you have no one in your life who you can call and say, ‘I’m scared,’ then your life is uninteresting, unfulfilling, superficial. You need somebody you can trust enough to say, ‘I need help.’” ― Steven Soderbergh in Vogue
Because a friend is part of one part of your life, do not expect that person to fill every area. Limit your friendship to areas that work for both of you and don’t include him in others. Do not expect your Friday night fun friend to help you when your car breaks down or help you move. Do not expect something from your friend that he cannot deliver. Remember that your friend has a life, too. You may not be his first priority.
WHAT ARE TOXIC FRIENDS? What if you have a friend who drains you or discourages you, a toxic friend? A toxic person is not someone in a bad mood or someone who has a negative personality. It is a person who is bitter and angry or hates life and everyone in it and pours his venom out at anyone who will listen. A toxic person will destroy you. He is not a necessary evil. He is dangerous. If you cannot completely remove this person from your life, be around him as little as possible and recognize that he is poisonous. Do not take what he says personally or believe his poison.If this person is emotionally abusive, admit it early in the relationship and end it.
“There’s always going to be people that hurt you. So what you have to do is keep on trusting and just be more careful about who you trust next time around.” ― Anonymous
Ten Questions to ask yourself
1. What need in my life is this person filling?
2. Is this relationship meeting my needs? Is it satisfying to me? Can I be myself around this person?
3. After spending time with this person how do I feel about myself? Am I happier or unhappier with my circumstances and myself?
4. Do I have to be careful about what I say to this person?
5. Can I share my successes with him or do I hold back?
6. Do I ever feel used? Do I feel this person is taking advantage of me?
7. Is this person there for me when I need him?
8. Can this person tolerate a difference of opinion or do I feel that I always have to agree with him?
9. Does this person make me feel inferior or worthless? Is this person verbally or emotionally destructive?
10. Is this person there for me until someone with more money, connections or power, better looking or a member of the opposite sex comes along?
Follow your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with your friend and you decide to break off the relationship ― and you will come to this point once in a while ― be less available. Do not return calls right away. Tell this person that you are very busy right now. If slowing down the relationship does not work, you may need to be more direct and let this person know that the relationship is not working out for you. Getting rid of a toxic person gives you more time and energy for real friends.
“A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.” ― Anonymous
As you develop new friendships, take advantage of the wonderful opportunities they offer to be supportive of you and you be supportive in return. Life will become easier and much more enjoyable.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Do you have a support group?
- Does it fill all your needs?
- How will you meet more people?
- Are there meetings you can go to on a regular basis where you can get to know people?
- When will you begin to add to your list?
[box type=”bio”] Betty Eddy is a published author and member of the Netiv community. Her work as a life coach has given her unique insight into self help. In her book “Untying the Knots of Life” she deals with concepts which guides the reader though self discovery. [/box]