The Benefits of Having a Support Network
An Excerpt from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family
Over the years as a career and executive coach, I have observed that people who are comfortable asking for and receiving help — whether that’s from a coach, a therapist, a mentor, a friend, a professional organization, or a business partner or colleague — experience greater success and feel more connected and confident at home and at work. One day at an executive team lunch, I asked the company’s CEO if he had ever been scared to initiate risky big business deals — mergers, buy-outs, going public. He said, “Hell yes, I was scared — often terrified! But I had an army of support surrounding me or I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.”
Having a support system can have a huge impact on how you experience day-to-day life. Research shows that individuals who have robust support systems
• are more effective in all aspects of their lives;
• keep resolutions, particularly those involving their health and physical well-being;
• weather personal and professional challenges more easily;
• are less likely to feel overwhelmed and find it easier to maintain perspective;
• stay healthier on all levels — mentally, physically, and emotionally;
• are less likely to feel isolated (which can lead to feelings of despair and failure);
• experience less stress and burnout; and
• have children who are comfortable asking for and receiving help from others.
In my own life and work, I’ve seen the truth of this over and over: feeling supported while moving through a transition or facing a challenging issue can make all the difference in how you experience the journey — and how your family does as well.
Sarah, a mother of two, confided, “When Bryan goes out of town for work for a week or longer, I know solo parenting will be challenging. I have finally learned these are the times I need to heap on the extra support. I usually ask my younger sister to babysit one night during the week so I can enjoy a quiet dinner out with a girlfriend, and I have our high school neighbor come over three nights during the week to help with dinner, baths, and bedtime. I also make sure I have frozen dinners or easy-to-prepare food in the house. I used to dread these business trips. I would want to dump the kids on my husband the minute he returned from his trip and run out the door to get some time for myself. It took a while, but I finally learned that I just have to build in extra support when he’s away on a trip. Now, not only are the weeks he’s traveling more peaceful and enjoyable, but my husband returns to a family that’s happy to see him, rather than resentful that he’s been away.”
However, our support networks help us even when we don’t have a specific need. More than ever before, we’re all craving community, and there are many benefits to gathering in small, intentional groups to share and explore what matters most. Humans have a strong desire to come together — not as a leisure-time luxury, but as a necessity. We need each other. And we need “belly time” — not just texts or Facebook updates.
We receive many gifts when we gather intentionally to feed our hearts and souls:
• When we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and open up to help, we embrace our interdependence and tap into one another’s wisdom on the deepest level. We realize we’re one another’s teachers.
• When going through a challenging time, reaching out to and gathering with like-minded friends for authentic conversation helps us feel validated and supported.
• Being with good friends who care deeply about us reminds us who we really are. They help us remember our stuff isn’t the “biggest thing that’s happening to us,” it’s just the “biggest thing in this moment!”
• When we ask for help or gather in groups, we experience our interconnectedness directly, so that we don’t feel alone.
• When we gather intentionally around a common theme, we realize how much our experience is shared by others. Having our friends or community articulate what we’ve been feeling in our own hearts can elicit an immediate shift in perspective or an aha moment!
• The practice of being real, vulnerable, and deeply authentic in front of others — as my mentor says, “showing up warts and all” — can be amazingly cathartic and freeing!
• When women gather in groups, our physiology changes: our im-mune systems and serotonin levels get a boost and we release oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) — which results in us feeling calmer and happier overall.
Finally, the act of giving and receiving support can be a spiritual practice. This is particularly true during times of extreme need — just ask anyone who has faced a major illness or has cared for a child with special needs. Occasionally, life forces us to surrender to divine grace and call in the troops!
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Life balance coach/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau is the author of the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. Visit her online at www.ReneeTrudeau.com
Excerpted from the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family ©2013 Renée Peterson Trudeau. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com