Trying to be supportive and actually being supportive are two very different things.
My AMAZING friend and business/male counterpart, Corey Teramana, defines support as this:
"Support is the process of empowering someone through their own faculties and abilities to accomplish, succeed, and grow. Support doesn’t steer someone so much as it aids them to discover their greatest attributes and abilities not actively seen. The major key to support is leaving someone empowered."
So this means that what we thought was being supportive was actually really trying to change our partner, which shows a total lack of acceptance of the person we love so much. Oops! Our bad.
In other words, if not by request, the following activities are NOT being supportive:
- Making suggestions;
- Trying to inspire, correct, or control;
- Coddling, doting, or nurturing without invitation;
- Psyching, healing, coaching, or managing;
- Doing research or solving problems for;
- Or any other action we perceive as being "helpful."
So the bottom line is this: if you can let go of trying to be supportive by ceasing engagement with the behaviors listed above, you then naturally drop into a state of true support.
By allowing your partner (or anyone else for that matter) to simply be who he/she is at each and every moment—even if they’re miserable, depressed, lethargic, chronically ill, etc.—you are accepting them just as they are, and offering true support. And from this place, the unhealthy person has the space to change themselves.
No one wants to be told what to do, and when an adult is told what to do by a partner, something inside of them rebels like an angsty teen.
So then what can you do to help shift your relationship into something you're really excited about? Well, I'll tell ya.
Here are three ways you can show your partner true support starting right now:
- Give them space—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. By giving your partner space, you help them feel more independent while reminding yourself that you, too, are an independent being with your own needs to meet. Take some time, step back, and focus on you.
- Notice when you make a suggestion, try to fix something, or “help” in some way. Then stop. Seriously. Even if you have to cut yourself off in the middle of a sentence or turn your car around in the middle of an errand, do it. Don’t buy that thing you think they’d like, don’t do that thing they should be doing themselves. Don’t have that conversation you’re dying to have because you know if they just did this one little thing, everything would be better. Stop the impulse, and let them be. By doing so, you give them the space to ask for help when they need it, and then you can be helpful from a place of consciousness and humility. If this gets too difficult, look for your own support system that can help you stay strong.
- Reflect on the triggers. Take a look inside and witness which behaviors trigger you most. With this raw emotion in mind and feeling, go to a quiet place, set an alarm for 5 minutes, and with an inquisitive energy breathe deeply into your lower belly. Count your breaths and let them deepen over this period of time, all while holding the trigger in your consciousness. Allow what comes up to present itself without judgment. Try to not attach to any feeling or idea too strongly, simply see what shows up. After your time is up, jot down any new thoughts or ideas that give you fresh perspective on yourself and/or your relationship.
By holding the space of true support—no matter how difficult it is—amazing things can begin to happen.
Sometimes that space will need to be held for a lengthy period of time before the unhealthy person finally decides to make small movements toward health—whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. And it can be difficult to maintain a truly supportive role alone. If you find yourself needing support, definitely be in touch with me and I'll be happy to carve our some time just for you.
Now I'd love to hear from you! What have you done (or are planning to do) to cease being "helpful," and in fact drop into a supportive role in your relationship? What specifically will you STOP doing?
Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing! Because when you do, you help even more people discover new ways to love themselves, their partners, and each other. Woohoo for you! <3
LOVE TO YOU.