Balancing your support network

If you feel hesitant to reach out, think about how you feel when you are able to help someone. Many people welcome the opportunity to help and are relieved to find out that we all need help from time to time.

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Why this matters

How do you feel after you help someone? If you are happy to help others and feel good doing it, do you also feel good about asking for help? If not, why not? Some of us were raised to believe that helping others was a sign of strength but asking for help was one of weakness. But do you actually think people who ask for help are weak? Probably not.

Resilience involves acknowledging our need to connect with each other.

All of us will have times when we can offer help and times when we should reach out for help. There are times we need to be supported and times we need to be supportive. Asking for help in our personal or work lives is one of the ways we can improve our resilience.

You may discover that there are more people than you were aware of who would be willing to help you. But not everyone can help with every issue. If the first person you reach out to is unable or unwilling to help, try someone else.

Explore and reflect

You never have to be alone when you need support: there is always someone who really wants to help, including a professional or volunteer. There are multiple organizational and community resources that can be found in person, online, and over the phone. Take time to discover these supports now so they will be easier to find when you actually need them. And then when you need them, reach out.

You may have more support than you first thought. You might also notice that your support network is not as large as it could be.

This is not a popularity contest. We are fortunate if we have a few good people in our lives who will be there to help us.

To help develop your network, look for opportunities to use your strengths to assist others.

This can include joining a group, collaborating online or in person, volunteering, or finding one person who needs your help. However you choose to build a support network, the more people you support, the more people who may also be there when you need help.

See Strengthening relationships to learn to build, maintain and deepen any relationship for a stronger connection.

Take action

Think about family, friends, associates, colleagues, neighbours, or services you could reach out to for help. From the list below, think of the names of people whom you can or do support for each specific task. Now repeat this, but instead, list the names of people who could provide that support to you.

Try to include a variety of names so that you can create a diverse network of support for yourself.

  • Do errands
  • Help with housework
  • Help with work tasks
  • Offer emotional support
  • Be trusted with a secret
  • Provide a tough love approach by calling me on my stuff
  • Provide a reality check and question my perspective
  • Encourage and support unconditionally
  • Celebrate
  • Generate laughter
  • Encourage positive action
  • Explore potential solutions
  • Hold accountable to follow through
  • Have fun
  • Go to a social or work event


Contributors include.articlesMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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