As we work towards lives, work and loves that are aligned and allow us to be our whole selves, we need to reflect upon our connections – the people around us who add to and support our best endeavours, those who advise and counsel us and those who deter and doubt us.

One of our strongest desires is to belong, to be accepted and wanted. It is an inbuilt motivator and one that can drive wonderful friendships, relationships and partnerships. But it can also be a driver to conform, sacrifice and deny our true selves, as well as harmful comparisons.

Belonging benefits our mental and physical wellbeing – did you know our immune system is buoyed by a strong sense of belonging? It also enables us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves or our singular efforts.

How do we create our support network whilst avoiding the potential downside?

Support comes in many forms. For some, our extended families can be a wonderful platform of love, acceptance and nurture. For others, not so much. Our friends and colleagues are also potential supporters.  

It can come from experts, gurus and professionals. Or from spiritual leaders or community groups.

Similarly, the type of support we need varies by what we are facing, how confident or comfortable we feel and the circumstances we find ourselves in. A smile in the moment, sharing a practical technique or some deeper teaching can all be valuable when given freely without judgement or expectation and from a place of expansion and growth.

Define what you seek

There are three areas to this: the outcomes you wish to achieve, what support you both have and need and how to fill the gaps. 

Looking to the first: how would you like to feel more joy in your life, work and love? 

Recognising where you wear a mask to hide the real you or when you shrink your true self to conform and fit in can be painful, however, it will shed light on areas where the work lies ahead. It can help you understand with clarity in what ways you can take action to bring out the authentic you in all aspects of your life. 

Perhaps you need to transition your career from one employer to another or become self-employed? Maybe your focus is to improve your self-acceptance and confidence? Or it could be about leveraging your energy to create and hold boundaries that better serve you.

 

Then consider the support you have already. Who enables you to feel courageous? Who celebrates your successes with joy or commiserates without allowing you to lurk in pity parties? Who feeds you energy and needs? Who’s wisdom creates new thinking and ideas for you to pursue? Who just “gets” you without exchanging a word? Who allows you to be fully expressed?

Women tend to hang back from asking for help, especially when we feel exposed, vulnerable or any challenging emotions like shame, guilt or fear. In what ways could these people, who are already supportive, provide additional or different support as you remove your mask and stop hiding your true self? 

Next what is missing from your support network? Is it an expertise or something less formal? And don’t forget you are also your own supporter!

A mentor might help you avoid their mistakes and a subject expert might suggest books or courses. A friend might provide dinner when you’re under pressure and a bodyworker the skills to release your tensions and stresses.

In terms of mindset shifts, a coach, counsellor or spiritual guide may expand your thinking, shift any outdated beliefs or limitations and enable you to create new foundations of self-forgiveness, compassion, self-acceptance and self-trust – as well as new behaviours that align to your value and needs. 

Closing the gaps might require research, asking for referrals, attending events or meet-ups. Your social media accounts might be sources of great people – a question asked, a resource tip or by directly reaching out – and you can also use them to find places of expertise like professional association, specialist groups and gurus’ own pages or sites.

You might also find your people at local classes, coworking spaces and community opportunities like volunteering. Our kin are also the people we choose, as well as the people we’re born to.

 

Lastly, don’t underestimate your own brilliance and resourcefulness. Practice your self-connection habits: morning journaling, gratitude practices and solo soft play dates to access Source and the insights, bravery and grounding it can bring you. Your need meeting habits and self-care practices also firm up the foundation for growth and your energy to take action.

Tell me, how can you expand your support network and enable yourself to experience more joy in your authentic life, work and love?