Feel Like You’re Not Being Supported?


In coaching conversations around relationships, I often hear the phrase “My (spouse, partner, family, etc.) doesn’t support me.” We want to feel like we can rely on others and that they have our back. Whether it is a simple task or a big life decision, we want to feel like those around us will support us. When someone feels that they are not being supported that often originates from one of three places.

Others are supporting you and you just don’t recognize it.
Everything that happens around us is seen through the lens of our perception. Your family may be supporting you, or believe that they are, and you simply aren’t seeing it. You might be overlooking their efforts or they aren’t registering because of feelings of low worth or poor self-esteem. To counteract this, look at people’s intent as well as their actions. Also, have a very clear (and reasonable) vision for yourself of what it means for others to be supportive.

You haven’t really asked for their support.
You can’t hold a grudge against someone if they didn’t know you were counting on them. Once you have a clear vision of what you’d like from others, you have to ask them. Don’t assume that they’ll know or intuitively pick-up on what you need right now. For example, let’s say you’re starting a new business venture and you really need time to work on a business plan. Instead of getting angry that your spouse isn’t seeing that you need quiet time and isn’t helping keep the kids busy, have a conversation. First, explain what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. Next, be reasonable and specific in stating your needs. “I really need an hour a day for the next week to work on this project. Can you keep the kids busy between 7 and 8 each night so I can work on this please?” (Or whatever works best for the both of you.) The more specific you are in expressing how you would like to be supported, the better the results. Be aware of need creep though. Don’t tell your partner you need X then assume they’ll know that now includes Y and Z too.

You’re really looking for approval and not support.
There’a a difference between support and agreement. A partner can be quite willing to support you in some endeavor but not have full buy-in or agreement. Are you actually looking for someone else’s approval instead of their support? When you make a choice, it has to be based on your own wisdom and experience which is unique from anyone else. Someone else’s experience may not allow them to reach your same decision. You need to understand that your decision is yours to make and you can’t rely on the approval of others. Trying to force someone to agree with you to gain their approval will be both fruitless and frustrating and can greatly strain a relationship.

The people that love you and care about you really do want to be there for you. It’s important that you let them know exactly what you need. If you’re surrounded by people that really don’t care to support you then realize you can’t make them. Draw up your internal strength and courage and forge ahead in your decision—and maybe add some new people to your life that share your vision.

Photo credit: FUNKYAH / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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