How to Use Your Support Systems

Thanks to technology, communicating with others has never been easier – so
why are we so lonely?

Dr. Trish Henrie-Barrus breaks down new research that points at a need for
support systems, and an understand of how to use them.

Researchers are finding that our fast paced society, lack of connection and
need for achievement are creating more loneliness in the world. The
opposite of loneliness is belonging. As humans, we have an innate need to
belong. To one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and
country, to our world. Belonging has been shown to be fundamental to our
sense of happiness and well-being.

Abraham Maslow found that we all have needs and the need to belong and
have intimate relationships is very basic.

Research has also found that our interests, motivation, health and happiness
are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community
that may share common interests and aspirations.

Women particularly have this need to belong as we are very relational. We
have a need for support systems in our lives.

In times of high stress (divorce, death, financial problems, parenting
problems) we may lose our way or competence in handling life. A support
system helps us cope and return to our previous level of functioning.

“A sense of belonging,” writes Dr.Kenneth Pelletier of the Standford Center
for Research and Disesase Prevention, “appears to be a basic human need- as
basic as food and shelter. In fact, social support may be one of the critical
elements distinguishing those who remain healthy fr0m those who become

· Helps me gain a sense of who I am, especially in times of transition

· Helps build my self-esteem

· Doesn’t enable bad behavior but gives good feedback

· Is a resource pool

· Supports me

· Leaves me stronger

· Times of high stress may lose our way or competence in handling
life. A
support system helps me cope and return to our previous level of

· Helps me develop new skills and reach goals

· Advocates for me


· People with common interests
This would include groups to help through the transition such as divorce,
grieving, parenting groups. These support systems help us sort out our
problems and realize we aren’t the only one suffering with this issue.

· Experts
These are people who can act as mentors to us. They can challenge our way
of thinking and help us see new perspectives and ways of doing things.

· Close friends
They usually know us pretty well and are more open. They help strengthen us
and are nurturing.

How to Be A Good Support System:

· Don’t enable or coddle the person. Be honest and open. Being blunt and
challenging bad ideas is good at times.

· Nurture but don’t create dependency. Empower the person.
you can’t force the person to change or be happy. That is their

· Believe in the person. Start where they are at.

Dr. Trish Henrie-Barrus teaches Positive Psychology at the University of Utah.
She also has a private practice where she specializes in positive psychological
techniques to change lives. She can be reached at 801 787- 9855.

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