We all need “ride or die” people in our lives.
A true network of deep support that we can draw on when life gets bumpy/ messy/ dark/ confusing/ frustrating/ overwhelming as it so often does.
This is important because there’s a certain kind of healing that can only happen within the context of community. Listen, I’m all about some serious ‘self-care’ (especially the kind that’s proactive vs. reactive…read more here), but there are times we just need to be witnessed. Validated. When we need someone to tell us, “Yep, that totally sucks.” or “You got this woman!” And this brand of ‘community care’ is something that we simply cannot do on our own (no matter how hard we try).
Because as much as we applaud and champion the ‘I did it myself!’ mentality in our society, deep down we know it takes a damn village to thrive in our fast-paced, complex world.
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb
Which is why it’s so important to surround ourselves with friends who’ve earned our trust versus relying on one single person to fulfill all our needs (i.e. our bestie or significant other). Because it’s unrealistic to expect ONE person to be your everything. And I want to save you from the disappointment this kind of expectation can create. There will be times when your go-to person can’t be there for you because they’ve gotta take care of themselves and that doesn’t make them flawed, it just makes them human.
Case in point, awhile ago I had an absolute shite week and my usual go-to-for-calm-and-a-perspective-slap friend was already overwhelmed. I knew this and so I didn’t default to reaching out to them. Instead, I leaned on other friends who’ve also earned their trust with me and can hold that sacred space I needed. My community, my people, my “A-Team”.
I also did the Grief Recovery Method with a trained pro (who has also now become a trusted friend) and was finally able to unpack this heavy shit I’d been carrying around for 20 years (you can read about it here). And here’s the sorta hilarious thing, I started by just writing out the work of the Grief Recovery Method hoping that would be enough, even though I knew it wasn’t. Because uggh, I didn’t want to have to give voice to the pain. These were some OLD wounds I was excavating and I wanted to be vulnerable on my own in my own private sanctuary of home. I figured if I did all the steps by myself (I mean, I’m TRAINED in this, I know what to do), honoured it, cried it out, then I’d be good. But finding the courage to share it with another empathetic heart was what truly helped me move forward. To have her listen so deeply, then to simply say ‘that’s a lot to carry Tammy’ … it FREED me.
So ya, I get it. It’s natural to want to do the work on your own and hope that’s enough. It can feel scary to show up to others as the vulnerable, messy, grieving humans that we are. But here’s the thing, this is precisely where connection and trust are built, fortified, and strengthened. Vulnerability is what we want to see in each other, it’s what makes us human. Which is why it’s so vital to nurture these relationships. And it’s not that difficult to do. Really all it takes is checking in regularly. Holding space for them when they need it. Making time to connect and share belly laughs, raise a toast with your favourite red to another difficulty survived, or prepare and share something delicious in your kitchen (or get take-out, no judgment here!).
Even sharing my story on social media was a reminder of the love and support out there in the world. I received such heartfelt messages from people who I barely interact with, people that I didn’t even realize followed me. When you find the courage to be vulnerable, people can surprise you with their compassion and generosity.
Or think of it this way.
Close your eyes and reflect on how good it feels to be there for a friend in need. To help out, pitch in, and hold space for your loved ones. We love to help each other, human beings are like that. And especially in times of immense struggle or crisis, it feels good to even realize that there are always helpers around. ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ (Thanks Mr. Rogers’ mom, you nailed it.)
We like to be needed.
We like to help.
So let others help you.
Trash your proverbial superhero cape and reach out and get help if you need it.
But what if you don’t have an “A-Team” or you’re reading this thinking you’ve got room for a few more supportive souls in your life?
I have a few ideas for you.
1 – Trust
Earning trust happens over time but it helps to know how others can build trust with us. How do people “earn their marbles” with you?
Is it by regularly checking in?
Making you laugh (especially when you’re stressed out)?
Holding sacred space for you?
(Watch this incredible talk by Brene Brown on The Anatomy of Trust – you’ll know what I mean by “earning marbles”)
2 – Set intentions
Start just by noticing the qualities you love most in a friend (those qualities are probably what you most need in a relationship).
Do you love spending time with someone who’s a natural cheerleader?
Someone who’s discerning?
Someone who’s loving and affectionate?
Someone who’ll give you tough love and tell it to you straight?
Someone who’ll listen without judgment or trying to “fix” it?
Once you can clearly visualize the friendships you want to cultivate, create clear intentions around inviting these people into your life. (If you need help setting intentions read this)
3 – Know what you can give
Because all relationships are a two-way street and giving freely and without expectation is part of the package.
Are you great at helping a friend see something from a new perspective?
Or making a plan and figuring out next steps?
Or asking the questions they haven’t dared to ask yet?
Or showing up with groceries/ to walk the dog/ clean the house/ babysit when they’re sick?
Can you be counted on to lovingly point out blindspots?
Or catch a mid-week-how-is-it-not-Friday-yet coffee?
4 – Find a space where you feel like you belong
Because that’s also a great place to cultivate friendships and a sense of community. We all need to find a space where we feel comfortable and surrounded by people who “get” us. I loved the community I found at YogaBlend in California so much I moved there to do all my training! (and since YogaBlend closed during the pandemic, I now have to get my buns out to Elevation Central in Nashville to see Christy!)
Some healing only happens in community. Love up your people. Give freely. Be courageous enough to ask for help when you need it. And if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking for that space where you feel like you belong. You’re most definitely welcome here in this little corner of the interwebs because I know in my heart that “no one belongs here more than you.” (Thanks Brené Brown, you nailed it too.)