10 tips for a dynamic support network

7 min read

A support network is a group of people you can count on in times of need, whether it's for listening, advising, assisting, or comforting you.

Comprised of friends, family members, and the community, its positive impact on health is undeniable, acting as a protective shield against life's challenges. But more than that, these networks reinforce the sense of control and assurance, providing resources that enrich our daily lives.

It's an interconnected system, a set of reliable individuals where reciprocity plays a key role. What distinguishes a strong support network is this reciprocity. It's the ability to give and receive, exchange advice, emotions, and experiences. This sharing dynamic creates a sense of belonging, builds trust, and establishes lasting bonds. Thus, a well-woven social network is not only an individual asset but also a crucial pillar for the stability and well-being of a society.

Here are 10 tips for nurturing your network:

1. Take stock of your current relationships. Identify people who are close to you, who bring you comfort, who share your values and interests, who respect and accept you as you are. These individuals will form the core of your support network.

2. Strengthen the bonds with these individuals. Show them you care, appreciate their presence, and are grateful for their help. Communicate regularly with them, via phone, message, email, or face-to-face. Share your joys, sorrows, plans, or doubts. Be attentive, empathetic, compassionate, and curious about the concerns of those around you. Don't hesitate to ask for their help when you need it and offer your assistance when they do.

3. Expand your circle of acquaintances. Create opportunities to meet new people. Engage in social, cultural, sports, community, or professional activities that interest you. Be open, curious, smiling, and respectful. Initiate conversations, ask questions, express your opinion while listening to others', and offer compliments. Avoid judging people based on appearance, background, status, or opinion. Seek common ground, affinities, shared values instead.

4. Be selective. You don't need hundreds of friends. It's better to prioritize quality over quantity. Ask yourself why you associate with the people around you. Choose those who bring positivity, inspiration, motivation, and help you grow. However, also keep in mind that true friends may alert you if you exhibit harmful behavior. They can help you reflect on your actions and improve. Avoid toxic relationships that undermine your self-esteem, criticize you unfairly, or seek to manipulate you. Remember, cultivating strong relationships and trust takes time. It's a process built through shared experiences, moments lived together, and challenges overcome.

5. Diversify your exchanges. Don't rely on a single person for all your concerns; you risk overburdening, tiring, or losing them. Try to have several trusted people who can offer different perspectives based on the situations. You can also have reference people in different areas such as family, work, hobbies, health, etc.

6. Seek professional help if needed. Sometimes, your personal support network isn't enough to meet your needs, or you don't feel comfortable confiding in your loved ones. In such cases, you can seek the help of professionals such as doctors, psychologists, social workers, coaches, therapists... These individuals are trained to listen, guide, direct, and care for you. They can provide an objective, external, and compassionate view of your situation.

7. Join support groups if needed. There are support groups for individuals experiencing specific situations like illness, grief, separation, addiction, or disability. These groups are led by peers, volunteers, or professionals, offering a space for exchange, listening, sharing, and solidarity. You can meet people who understand, support, or inspire you there. You can find information, advice, resources, testimonials, and solutions.

8. Use technology wisely. Technologies like social networks, applications, forums, and blogs can be useful tools to create and maintain your support network. You can find people who share your interests, passions, or issues. You can communicate easily, quickly, and remotely. You can access them anytime and anywhere. But remember, technologies don't replace real human relationships. They can even be sources of stress, dependence, and isolation. Therefore, use them moderately, judiciously, and cautiously.

9. Be active in your support network. Don't just receive support, but also give it. Be attentive to the needs, requests, and expectations of those close to you. Be available, generous, and grateful yourself. Show initiative, creativity, humor, spontaneity. Suggest activities, outings, surprises, or gift ideas. Give compliments, encouragement, and thanks. Remember, support is an exchange, a sharing, a reciprocity.

10. Be yourself. The best way to create a good network is to be authentic, sincere, and honest. Don't try to please everyone, conform to norms, or hide behind a mask. Stay true to your values and convictions. Express your emotions and opinions. Respect yourself and don't devalue yourself. This way, you'll attract people who appreciate you for who you are and will accompany you enthusiastically on your journey.

Creating a support network isn't always easy, but it's possible. It's a valuable asset for flourishing and bouncing back in the face of adversity. Reciprocity within these networks strengthens bonds and ensures a continuous sense of well-being, both in difficult times and in the joys of daily life.