by Nicole Heim
The biggest impact that we can have in life is to be a support system to someone else. When I chose to have my first son, it was unexpected. I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to be a parent, but my husband was 100% on board. I was in school at the time studying for my bachelor’s degree and was in my second to last semester when I gave birth. In my last semester, I decided to take all family studies and sociology classes to learn as much about successful parenting as I could. Not everything can be found in a textbook, but I had a great foundation. I made bullet points about how to have the most successful child. I got them involved in religion, school, and extra-curricular activities. When I saw my child struggle, my first instinct was to jump in situations to “control” the outcome, in attempt to save my child’s feelings. My husband would hold me back, and we would watch things play out. Sometimes it broke my heart to watch him fail, but those experiences enabled him to make better choices as an adult. I ran my household with strict rules, but with a lot of love. I always hugged my son when he cried and answered the phone every time he called. He still calls for advice, help, or all things of a more serious nature. My husband is the fun one. They text jokes and can hang together with the boys. I am jealous at times but am happy and content that he is SUPPORTED.
I have continued the same practice with all my boys, and they are even more supported because they have older brothers that implement the same practice. I once sat down with my son every day to do a repeat lesson that he was struggling with. I told him that there was no reason that he could not get straight A’s, we just have to work at it. My nanny commented that her parents did not have that expectation of her, and she never thought she could accomplish it. She stated, “at this point, I will never know.” Being supportive does not mean that we allow the anything goes policy. It means that we are supporting people with where they are at now, and in some cases like with children, we are supporting them for an easier and better life in the future.
We can all thrive with support. This is also true in the workplace. People need to feel supported to be effective. In the workplace, it is difficult to have creativity or to stay focused if you are constantly worried about what your coworkers are doing behind you back, or if your boss likes you. If you run a business, your employees need to know what is expected of them. If you are a conflict avoider, you have a responsibility to learn how to approach your employees if there are issues with work performance and conflicts between employees. Employees need to know that they are working in a competent environment. If employees don’t feel supported in the workplace, there can be less productivity and more turnover.
As an employer, it can be effective to schedule a short check in with your employees. Keep firm boundaries and suggest HR or EAP services if employees share too much. Empathize with employees when they have issues, but lay out the expectations of work duties, how to handle conflicts with co-workers, and keep the workplace professional. Do not develop relationships with people in positions under you that will affect the workplace. Employees may perceive these relationships as favoritism.
We all need some kind of support in our personal life. Whether it be financially, emotionally, physically (food and shelter), or sexually; we have needs that need to be fulfilled. Our jobs fulfill a need for many supports. It could be financially that we work to provide for ourselves and or our families. Emotional support would be for confidence or independence. All needs should be addressed personally.
Our personal needs can be simple and complicated. We may need more structure so that we are not scattered and stay on task. We may need more connections with people to be heard, touched, comforted, or respected. When our needs do not get met, we are more likely to succumb to mental and physical illnesses. When our needs are not met over long periods of time, we can develop fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, etc.
Being a support for someone is equally important. We gain independence and self-confidence this way. Being a support for someone can be as simple as sending a text to follow up with a friend or family member. It can be holding someone for as long as they need to be held to deal with grief. It may be sitting on the phone for hours listening to someone bare their soul over the loss of a relationship. Relationships have to be close to equal to be mutually beneficial.
If anxiety, depression, or physical ailments are surfacing, it is important to do something about getting support right away. Seek counseling, turn to your faith, look into medication, or make a Dr.’s appointment right away. Increase your support group if you don’t feel supported by enough people. Set boundaries with people who you support but are not supportive of you. Look into mindfulness and self-awareness, and awareness of others. I once read in a textbook that the healthiest relationships take 15 minutes of face to face interaction a day. You give someone your undivided attention for 15 minutes. It’s important to do when you are supporting someone emotionally and a good reason why therapy is so effective.