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How Can I Build a Support Network?

February 20, 2020

We often carry the burden of mental health or substance use alone. You may have isolated for so long that you don’t know where to begin when you’re told to build a support network. It feels hard to trust people with knowledge of your struggles and connecting to others feels new and scary. But a support network is essential to lasting recovery, what can you use to build one?

Learning to Ask for Help

For many people, it can be hard to ask for support or help when there is so much stigma around mental health and substance use. It is hard to know who to trust to talk about your issues. However, the more support you have in your life, the more likely you are to succeed.

Imagine that your life right now is crossing a deep ravine with tiny, winding rapids way down below. If you try to do it by yourself, you get one rope that you have to carefully tightrope walk across. If you let your parents help you, they each add another rope. A mentor, one more rope. A church leader, there’s another rope. The more people you add to your support network, and suddenly, you have a sturdy rope bridge with ropes for your hands, too. 

This analogy is very similar to what building a support network will do for you. You go from teetering dangerously on your own to confidently and safely walking the path that will get you over this ravine and to the other side. The more people that you allow to support and help you in your journey, the safer your journey will be.

What You Need

When looking to build your support network, you need people that you can talk to. People who will ask you how you are doing and actually listen to what you say. You need some people, like your parents, who you can call in the middle of the night from anywhere, that will meet you with love and support. You need people in the various areas of your life, such as school, sports or music or other activities, church, or whatever you are involved in. They should be people who you can be accountable to, but also people who are willing to listen and give advice when needed. You have personal and specific needs, like empathy and experience, that you can look for in others as you choose people to support you on your journey.

What to Look For

When you are looking for specific people to add to your support network, look for people who match the following:

• Look for people in your life that you trust – if there are people in your life who have betrayed your trust before or who are in crisis before, you should not plan to count on them. You are rebuilding your life, and you need people who you can trust with your life, as well as maybe some of your darkest secrets.

• Look for people in your life who are there for you – you may be in a situation where even your parents or family members are not able to be there for you all of the time. That is okay, you are certainly not alone. Think of the people in your life who are there for you. The ones you know you can count on, no matter what. They are dependable, trustworthy, and caring. Those are people you want in your support network.

• Look for people in your life who inspire you – who are your everyday heroes? Who are the people who you look up to, who inspire you to be a better person? You want at least one of these people to be supporting you because you don’t just want to trudge through life, you want to be inspired to be the best version of yourself.

• Look for people in your life who make you feel safe – we all need to feel safe, especially when it comes to trust. Think of the people in your life who make you feel comfortable, secure, and above all, safe. You want to feel safe physically and mentally, so choose people that make you feel like a nice warm blanket, inside and out.

• Look for people in your life who make you feel loved – the bare minimum requirement of anyone in your support network is that they love and care about you. You might be surprised to find out how many people really do love you as you go through this process. 

You will find people who meet multiple criteria from the list above, and that is great. But still remember that the bigger your support network is, the safer your journey will be. The more people you have in your network, the more people you will have to call upon in times of need.

You can find the support you need and learn to ask for help, too. Look for the people in your life who will help you build that bridge, people that you can trust and depend on. Learning how many people love you can be a blessing in and of itself. Knowing that so many people care about you and your life is a reminder of how important you are. Your journey is important. People want to support you. They love you and want to help you succeed. Now build that network and let them help. You are worth every single person in your network.

Build a support network to help you navigate your journey of wellness. Call Potomac Programs 1-855-809-0409 today. Find all the support you need.

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