Everyone needs a support system. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have a strong family around you or a group of supportive friends, but if you don’t, you have to form your own village. How do you do that?
What kind of support do you need?
You may need emotional support as you work through your personal challenges, issues and problems. That particular aspect of your village may take time to develop. You have to find people you trust and whose opinion you value. Empathetic confidants are to be cherished. You may need physical support. At my age, I’m aware than I need someone in my village who is at least a generation younger, who can do the things I can no longer do physically. You may need spiritual support. My personal version is that you alone, have to develop your spiritual awareness. You might find suggestions and ideas from outside yourself, but that continuing journey is one you must take alone. Most of all, I need my village to hold some like-minded people who share at least some of my deepest interests. Since I live alone, the need to feel cared about has to come from my own self-love, self-appreciation, and self-acknowledgement. You are the most important resident of your support village. How you see yourself. What you believe can happen. What you think you deserve, all have powerful influence on your life experience.
Are you willing to accept support?
When I was in college, I remember asking an ex-priest, “If you believe God is within you and you get in trouble, where do you go for help?” He replied, “You pull yourself up by your own boot straps.” For a good portion of my life I felt I had to do it all by myself. It was a relief to finally accept the idea that I could ask for support and assistance from others and it often would be gladly given. There was also a period in my life when I was raising my four children where I didn’t dare ask for help because I was overwhelmed as it was and had no strength to give anything back. Do you think you have to go it alone? Do you think you have to give back when you receive? Are you willing to accept support from others?
Identify the members of your village that you already have in place
You probably have more support in place than you realize. Most likely, it does not come from one person. It may come in small doses from several people. Take loneliness, for instance. I live in a senior community and it is easy for me to have a brief conversation in the hallway whenever I choose. There are gatherings I can attend that allow me to get to know people better. There is enough diversity in my community that I can find a few compatible people. Look in places you frequent. My grocery store health store manager is a source of information and encouragement, as is the nutritionist there. I subscribe to vegan blogs and personally inspiriting spiritual blogs. My spiritual life is nurtured daily through reading, meditation and Qi Gong. I continue to look for like-minded people online. Make a list of people and resources that are already available in your support village.
Identify the places that need filling in your village
What do you need? What support would be the most welcome? I’m a bit of an explorer and find myself with interests that are less populated than most. What has been missing in my life is someone who shares those core interests. For instance, I’m the only vegan here but I did find one long-time vegetarian and we found that we share other philosophical concepts. My children will help me for major stuff but I don’t have the small physical plane stuff handled. I have friends here who will help, but we are all the same age and on a par physically. Identify the type of support your need and see about adding some people to your village.
What do you have to offer your village?
Receiving is not always about giving back to the person who gave to you, but it is about having a generosity of spirit that allows you to see what is needed and to be self-aware enough to recognize how and where you may be of service. I’m a strong organizer. I can offer that talent to others. I have a gift for seeing the overview. Sometimes that perspective helps someone work through his or her own process. I have had occasion to be in several 1:1 philosophical conversations that took on the tones of the spiritual counseling I used to do. That may be one of the ways I pay it forward. I’m a writer. I am good on the computer. I’m excited about being vegan and knowing Qi Gong. You get the picture, what are you excited about that you can share? What talent can you offer others? What skills can you put to use? A skill or ability that is easy for you can be take it for granted when in fact sharing it may make a huge difference in the life of someone else. Make a list of what you have to offer others, not just those in your village, but those you come across in your life. Then look for ways to offer your gifts to others.
Where do you look for people to invite into your village?
Since the Universe brings us what we focus on, pick one of the needs you identified and start thinking about it. Imagine how it would feel to have that support in place. Then look for the opportunities that show up, the people that suddenly appear. When you are clear about what you need, the answer will emerge. Express your need to others and see who and what they can suggest. Look in places you don’t expect. Focus on your need and pay attention to what and who shows up.
Establish a relationship
You can ask a perfect stranger for assistance, but the most rewarding path is to cultivate specific friendships. Get to know what a person needs, how you might be of service to them, and how their uniqueness might be of value in your village. If someone you don’t know well offers a service, take time to acknowledge their offer even if you don’t need it at that moment. It establishes a connection you may want to call upon in the future. Once you identify your needs, your intention will bring people into your life who can assist you. Just watch for them.
If I want more guidance on a choice I am planning to make, I need to talk about it to people who might have some answers. If I want someone to talk to about things that interest me, I need to deepen my conversations with others to identify our similarities. Be pro-active in attracting like-minded people into your circle. Ask for help. Start giving to others. That activates the energy of giving and receiving and will quickly fill your village.