Support Systems - How To Give and Receive Support

Sep 23, 2014 5:57:00 PM Mirais Holden Support

how to give and receive supportAs human beings, we live in community with others, and a big part of living in community is supporting one another. Giving and receiving support allows us to feel connection and intimacy. But when we aren’t paying attention to the ways that we give and receive support, we sometimes inadvertently produce disconnection and resentment in our relationships.

Rate your experience of support in your life, both giving support and receiving support, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best and 1 being the worst. What was your rating?

Here are some distinctions that can help us move more effectively in our support systems and crank our ratings up to a 10.

Giving Support

  1. How often do we complain that the people in our lives do not support us adequately, but we pay very little attention to whether we are a good offering of support for others? 

  2. Am I a good offering of support to the people in my life? What types of support skills do I have? Perhaps you offer affection, hugs, or financial support? Perhaps you offer a listening ear, or you perform acts of service and complete tasks for others?

  3. Acknowledge yourself for the ways you offer support to the people in your life. Perhaps you have been more supportive than you’ve realized?

  4. And on the flip side of the coin, ask yourself how you could improve your support skills.

    • Do you often find that when you offer support, the other person reports that he or she does not actually feel supported?
    • Support looks different to everyone. But we often don’t consider asking the other person what support looks like to them in a particular situation. Instead of asking “How can I support you?,” we jump straight into our automatic supporting habits, and often, our attempted support is not well received, which creates resentment for both parties.

    • For Example: My friend, Jessica, has always wanted a closer relationship with her father. When she calls him to have a conversation, his response is always to offer her money. The type of support my friend wants from her father is an intimate conversation, but he never offers that kind of support, and my friend feels resentful. Likewise, her father is resentful that his daughter does not appreciate his financial support. The result is that despite their attempts to connect with each other, they both feel disconnected.

Receiving Support

  1. For many of us, it is difficult to ask for the support we need or to graciously receive support when it is offered. Some of us give fabulous support to others but find it challenging to accept the same in return. 

  2. What we miss is that when we don’t allow others to support us, we dishonor them, and we rob the relationship of connection and intimacy. We know how wonderful it feels for us to support the people we love, and we forget that the people who love us want to support us in the same way.

  3. Others of us gladly accept support from others, but we feel that we do not get the types of support we desire. Instead of making Effective Requests, we live in expectations about what support should look like. To move more effectively, we could tell others exactly what support looks like for us in a particular situation and then request that type of support.  For Example: Jessica could reassure her father that she appreciates his offer of money and let him know that the type of support she is actually looking for is an intimate conversation, not a financial contribution.

When we begin to take a closer look at the way we give and receive support, we can reduce resentment and increase intimacy and connection in our relationships. To learn more about how to give and receive support, register for our upcoming Effective Living I course.