Who are you surrounding yourself with these days? You have probably heard that old expression, “the company you keep.” Well, whoever said it first probably learned it from experiences, some good and some not so good. As most of us have.
Here is a question for you. What does your support network look like? Maybe the best way to answer that is: How do you feel after you spend time with the people in your life? Do you feel cared for? Listened to? Understood? Accepted for who you are? Confident that you have somebody to rely on if you need them? Basically, be there for you. If so, then you have some solid support behind you. And are there also people in your life who leave you feeling judged, ignored, criticized, misunderstood? How many people in the plus column and the minus column?
Not feeling so supported right now? If you want to figure out why, the starting place might be to think about what kind of people you most need in your life. So here’s another question to ask yourself: What the word “supportive” mean to you? And what do you most value in the people you surround yourself with?
To help you answer that question, here are some of the qualities of a supportive friend or family member:
+ Listens without judging you
+ Offers advice when you ask for it but does not tell you what to do
+ Gives you a helping hand when you need it, and lets you do the same for them
+ Defends you when other people criticize you
+ Lets you be the real you, and is real with you in return
+ Has an optimistic attitude toward life and encourages you to be optimistic
+ Let’s you express how you’re feeling, without cutting you off and telling you to “think positive” or “get over it”
+ Asks you questions about what it is like to deal with addiction instead of making assumptions or pretending everything is fine
+ Doesn’t share with others what you have said without your permission
+ Treats you with respect, when you are together and in front of other people
+ Stays with you during those times when you aren’t at your best
Now, keep in mind that these are some pretty big requirements. Unless your friend or family member’s middle name is God, expecting one person to have all of these qualities is a whole lot to ask, probably too much to ask. After all, like us, the people in our lives are human. They have good days and bad days, strengths and weaknesses, and their own challenges to deal with.
Try to avoid expecting one person to be everything you need, to be the perfect supporter. That’s a lot to ask.