There are many different types of social support systems that we all need as humans. Now, more than ever, it’s important to figure out who is actually there to support you, and what kind of support he or she provides. Here’s a simple exercise that can help you define your social support system using pen and paper. No drawing skills needed!
Start with a small circle, just big enough to contain the people with whom you can be most intimate. Put their initials in that circle. The next circle is for family or close friends – draw a larger circle around the first and insert these folks in that circle. The next outer circle is for friends that you enjoy spending time with but are not people with whom you’d share your inner thoughts. You’re halfway there! Three more circles – professional colleagues are placed in the next circle, or those people whom you think you could count on for help if needed. Then comes a circle of non-professional acquaintances, more distant relations or neighbors. The outermost circle are people who provide informational; support, like your lawyer, banker, therapist or coach.
Now that you have a visual of your perceived social support system, you have a more concrete understanding of the people that you can call on. Perhaps the most helpful part of this is seeing where you have “holes” in your social support, and since friendships benefit all parties, reaching out now really can be very helpful to others who may need to fill holes, too. And, you might come away with a new perception and increased gratitude for supportive people in your life right now!
Taken from a Podcast with Dr. Shelley Carson, author of Your Creative Brain (Jossey-Bass).