Five step process to help you build a thriving support circle
In this blog, I will explain some common causes of loneliness and present a simple five step model to help you build a thriving social support network. The aim is to make you aware that taking steps to overcome loneliness can have many other related benefits.
Some of the main sources of loneliness are:
- Lack of confidence to connect with others due to low self-esteem. Building a social circle of like-minded people can help to build self-worth and confidence.
- Loss of trust due to past relationship issues and a fear of being hurt again. When you take the risk to connect and explore new relationships, this alleviates the prospect of long-term loneliness and isolation.
- Moving to a new location, far from your usual support circle. When you begin to build a network of groups and people, this gives you a new sense of belonging.
- Loss of a close loved one. Looking for support with the grieving process and finding options for filling the void helps to heal the loss.
- Lack of people with similar interests. Using the internet and social media gives options to build new relationships remotely and in person.
- Lack of energy to devote to relationships due to ill health. Making wellbeing your number one priority by using energy-boosting initiatives brings renewed motivation to socialise and interact with others.
We can be lonely for different reasons.
As human beings, we need practical, emotional and moral support at different times in our lives, so think about your specific needs in these categories.
For instance, you may go out and have fun with friends, but find it difficult to talk about painful emotions or you may have a friend who helps with practical things but is not a good listener. Or perhaps you can call your mother who lives abroad for moral support, but you have no one to help with your young children.
Some of you may identify with the above (or know of someone in that situation). In that case, it may help to reflect on a time when you were not lonely and had a happy social circle. How did you achieve it? How can you do the same again? What would you need?
Make a list of how you did this and take the first steps. The following process provides additional guidance.
Here is a five step process to help you build a thriving support circle
- Make a list of all your contacts – at work, family, friends and even casual acquaintances.
- Tick nine people from this list- three each for moral, practical, and emotional support.
- Gradually build connections with these people. You may begin by sending a text, then a short telephone call, then inviting them for coffee or a meal.
- Over a period, do the same with all nine people. The reason, I am suggesting nine people is because at any given time, a few may not be available for various reasons, in which case there would always be someone there for support.5. Review your network and make changes as needed after several months.
- Review your network and make changes as needed after several months.
Three case studies
- Amanda was very close to her husband and always relied on him for moral, practical and emotional support. He had a sudden heart condition and was hospitalised for a long period. Amanda slipped into loneliness and found it hard to support herself and her husband for many years until she applied the five-step process.
- Vincent had a difficult divorce. Despite being attracted to other women he did not want to get hurt again. After 10 years he experiences acute loneliness which affected his mental health. He took the risk to begin to connect with women again. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but he tried again and struck a friendship that provided much-needed companionship.
- Randip was offered a promotion abroad. He missed his family, friends and colleagues desperately as he was in a foreign country with a completely different culture. He took the initiative to talk to his neighbour and a colleague who both introduced him to others in the community.
Taking small gradual steps to build a threefold social support circle around you, not only alleviates loneliness but has many other benefits, such as building confidence, enhancing wellbeing, learning new skills and creating a sense of belonging.
About Hansa Pankhania
Hansa Pankhania is an Author, Executive Coach and Speaker. These are all means by which she guides you to integrate remarkably simple natural practices that will ignite wellbeing and happiness in your life. She has published 6 paperback books on Stress Prevention and Wellbeing including ‘Stress To Success In 28 Days’ available on Amazon.
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