Having a supportive community around us is one of the best things we can do to build resilience and reduce our stress levels!
I want to direct you to focus in on the word “supportive.” What I refer to as a Peaceful Living Community is not made-up of a bunch of people who are just in our lives. A Peaceful Living Community is a support tribe; it is made up of people to whom you can turn in both happy and sad times and they are able to turn to you for support as well.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a metaphor that I like to use to explain what kinds of people belong in our support tribe: Grocery store people and hardware store people. Grocery store people are the people you turn to and find the support you need. Hardware store people are people who are not emotionally available to support you.
AREN’T OUR FAMILIES OUR SUPPORT TRIBE?
Many people are lucky enough to have parents or other family members who are the center or strong part of their support tribes. Find the people in your family who are positive, uplifting and nonjudgmental. Those are the people you want as part of your peaceful living community.
Just because someone is related to us does not mean that they are a grocery store person! Our parents, by their very role as parents “should” be our grocery stores, at least until we are adults. However, there are just some parents who are not emotionally supportive. This is especially hard as children because we don’t have many options to turn to but as adults it is up to us to find other people to fill our emotional needs. If you know of a child who does not have parents to fill their emotional needs, maybe you can be that person for them.
Even if you are a person who has a great family, it is still very important to have others in your community. Reach out using the suggestions from my “The Importance of Community” blog or come up with your own. A diverse support tribe is optimal – family, partner, coach/ therapist/ pastor, and friends – make up the strongest community but we can find support from all kinds of people in our lives.
WHEN “I DO” BECOMES “I DON’T”
Aren’t our spouses or romantic partners supposed to be our primary emotional support systems? Similar to our parents, technically, “yes.” And yet, sometimes they just are not. Perhaps they are going through an emotional downturn themselves or maybe they do not want to be a grocery store. At this point, as the person who needs emotional support we need to ask ourselves a few things:
- Are my emotional needs constant and perhaps overbearing?
- Do I have stress-management techniques in place to help me cope with my emotional needs?
- Do I have others to turn to besides my spouse or partner to help fill my emotional needs?
- Does my spouse or partner give me some emotional support, but it is just not enough?
Answering these questions honestly is very important. If you are a person who is very emotionally needy, for whatever reason, that is okay. But, it may be too much to ask of one person to fulfill all of those needs. If your emotional neediness comes from a place of insecurity, overwhelm or past trauma you may want to seek out a trained coach or therapist who can help you heal. You can ask your spouse or partner to support you in that endeavor, but be aware of asking him or her to be your sole emotional support system.
We all have stress. A spouse or partner can be a good person to go to when we need support in processing our everyday stress. However, your partner is not responsible for being your only source of stress management. Make sure you are exercising, sleeping well, eating healthy food, and using mindfulness techniques. If your stress is overwhelming, seek the guidance of a trained coach or therapist who can help you feel emotionally more fulfilled and relaxed.
Supportive friends and relatives, spiritual leaders, support groups, therapists and coaches are all appropriate “grocery stores” to go to in addition to your partner or spouse when you need your emotional needs met. It is particularly important to have a widespread net when you have a lot of need. And remember, there are times in our lives that WE ALL have an overwhelming amount of emotional need!
IS IT JUST NOT ENOUGH?
This one can take a deeper thought process. If you are not terribly needy, and your spouse is not even meeting your basic emotional needs, you are definitely in the hardware store! If you are getting your emotional support from other people and places, but your partner is still not meeting your emotional needs, you are most likely also in the hardware store. Or you are probably at least in the parking lot!
This is where mindful communication techniques about your feelings can be invoked to help your partner understand that your emotional needs are not being met. Stay tuned for a future posting about mindful communication! If you do find yourself in the hardware store with your spouse or partner it may be time to seek the guidance and support of a relationship coach or couples therapist. Trained professionals are skilled at bringing couples back together to a place of emotional intimacy and support.
FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES
There are some of us who pick and choose our friends very carefully. Then there are some of us who embrace almost everyone they meet as friends. This is an area in which asking yourself some questions will help you understand how to build the best tribe for you:
- Are you a person who needs deep connection with just one or two people?
- Or do you prefer to have more people in your circle so you are not too dependent on just one or two people?
Both of these scenarios can be conducive to building your support system. But, they also can both be detrimental if not approached with caution.
Let’s take a look at the first scenario. Having people that you can implicitly trust and respond to gives us a sense of strong emotional security since deep connection is very important to us as human beings. This is a positive side of having just one or two good friends. The negative side of this is if for some reason those people are no longer a part of your life, you can be left alone and wanting. If you are this kind of person you are well-served by having others in your support tribe: Family, partners, a therapist or coach, new friends you’re growing closer to, etc.
On the other side of the coin, if you are a lots of friends person you may feel like you have a very strong support tribe but after deeper examination you assess if your tribe is only giving you shallow support. If you have so many people in your tribe that you do not have time to connect deeply with any of them, you are missing out on that essential element of human connection – deep intimacy. You may also find that you are spread too thin trying to “be there” for all of your friends that your emotional well runs dry trying to tend to all of their needs.
The key to having a strong, emotional support tribe of friends is BALANCE.
Try to have more than just one or two close friends, but don’t spread yourself too thin. It is okay to have people in your life who are acquaintances, but not friends. You are friendly with them but they are not the people who you spend time with on a regular basis. They are not the people you turn to in your times of need or people who have a valued place in your Peaceful Living Community.
Who makes up your support tribe? Do you have a good balance?
I welcome your thoughts, questions and any value you want to add to my blog! You all are amazing, bright shining lights!
And I’m grateful for your shares and follows on Facebook @peacefullivingwellness & Instagram @peacelifecoach
Love & Light,