In our emphasis on personal strength and independence, many of us forget that we are part of a network of support. We spend a good bit of our time helping others, and we may need to remind ourselves that others are happy to help us out when we need it. In times of challenge and stress, it may be our turn to accept that help and support.
We suggest that you - perhaps with a member of your family or a friend - take a little time to consider the support network that you have created for yourself. It is a help to see whom you can count on for a variety of needs, those friends and family members who might become a support if you invite that.
For this exercise, we give workshop participants a large sheet of paper and magic markers of many colors; if you are at home, you might try to find the same. If not, use whatever pens and pencils you might have; it is helpful to have some variety of colors.
It is fun to be as creative as you can. Use colors and shapes to describe the relationships of these individuals with you and with each other. Place yourself in the center of the page and identify those people in your life who do support you, or who might support you if you invited them to help in some way. Use colors to get in touch with the feelings you have about these people and their relationships to one another. Be imaginative and see what you can learn about the network of support you can count on.
Now take some time to consider what you have learned about the support network you have.
What surprised you as you played with shapes and colors, with people and relationships?
Who else would you like to have support from?
Are there individuals or caregivers you forgot to put on your page?
Do you need to help some people in your family or among your friends to see that you could use their support or to see how they might be of help to you at this time?
How easy is it for you to ask for, and receive, support?
If more than one of you did this exercise, were there differences between your perceptions of a support network?
Now take a little time to make a list of helpful things that others might do for you at this time. This is a list you can update as your situation changes.