People tend to find that they cope better with situations and enjoy life more if they have the support of family and friends. Your informal support networks are the personal ties you have with others. Friends, relatives and other people you turn to for comfort, advice or help are your “support network”.
Your informal support network helps in many ways. For example, someone in your support network might:
- Listen to your concerns.
- Help think about alternative plans and brainstorm ideas.
- Comfort you when you’re down.
- Celebrate your successes.
- Provide companionship and love.
- Help with material needs.
Identifying Your Support Network
To help you identify your support network, think about the following questions.
- Who listens to you when you need someone to talk to?
- With whom do you share good or bad news?
- Who appreciates you for who you are?
- Who stands up for you, even when they might not totally agree?
- When you need advice, who do you go to?
- When you have a problem, who do you turn to?
- Who helps you make decisions when you need to think through options and consequences?
Mapping out your Support Network
The people you named for each of these questions are an important part of your life. You depend on them. They form your informal support network. In turn, you also give them support.
A useful exercise is to draw your network out with yourself in the centre and those you rely on for support around you.
- Draw a line between yourself and each of these people.
- Add an arrow to each of the lines to represent the level of support going from them to you.
- Add arrows to show the level of support going from you to them.
- Different people may support you in different ways. You can label the arrows to show what kind of support is involved. Is the support they offer you similar to the support you offer them?
A healthy life-position in relation to others involves both giving and receiving support. Look at the support relationships in your network. As someone who supports others, it is important to know when you need support and to be able to ask for it, as well as to give it. What does your diagram tell you about your ability to ask for and receive support when you need it?