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WE GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
BY LINDA G. SMITH, MA.
LICENSED CLIINICAL SOCIAL WORKER
LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR
CERTIFIED THERAPEUTIC RECREATION SPECIALIST

Do you have the support that you need in your life?  Are you just as motivated in being there for others and giving them support?  The answers to these questions may mean that you need a relationship skills check-up.  Here's a way to look at the status of your circle of significant others.

1.  Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle.
2.  Write the world "me" inside the circle.
3.  Write in the names of your closest family members and friends.  This is your inner circle of support.
4.  Draw a circle around the group of names and write down the names of other people whoa re the next closest to you.  Repeat the steps three and four and include more circles with other family, friends, or associates. When you stop, look at what you've drawn.  It reflects the personal resources you have in your life.  It also reflects the degree of closeness that you have with them.

How do you feel about what you see?  Is it more or less than a few years ago.  If here are less people , what have you been overlooking?

Many factors can impact upon your abiity to establish and maintain relationships.  These factors could include various phases of life (childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, midlife, or being an older adult), career and world changes, single, marriage, divorce and death.  re you an out-going person or prefer solitude?  Are you the type that never meets a stranger and can be friendly to someone who you don't know" Or do you make it a practice to never speak to a stranger?

There's one thing for sure, in order to have a friend, you hove to be a friend and be friendly.  Your people skills impact greatly on your ability to develop relationships.  Cultivating and maintaining relationships are life-long processes.  Stopping either one will cause a significant drop in people who are supportive and want to be a part of your life.  Here are some suggestions to boost your circle of support: 

1.  Share Your Interests With Others.  Instead of rehashing work problems and complaints while at lunch, ask co-workers about their "life after work."  Then you can have an opener to share your interests and hobbies.  You might learn new areas whereby you can connect with others.

2.  Increase Your People Skills.   Proper communications usually begin with introductions.  Work on greeting those who you meet.  If you go to a meeting, make sure that you introduce yourself to those seated around you.  The more you do it, the more natural it will become.

3.  Use Your Natural Assets.  You have probably heard it said, "God gave us two ears for listening, but only one mouth."  This means we should probably learn to listen more than we speak.  Use the gifts that God gave you via your sense organs when conversing with others--smile, use eye contact, be attentive, touch, and listen.

4.  Reach Out and Touch.  When family and friends are experiencing difficult life situations, it is not the time for you to be out-of-sight.  Find a way to reach out and help.  Maybe this can be in the way of doing an errand, listening without being judgmental, fixing a food gift, sending a card or note, and just being there.  It's like the old adage, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you."

5. A Personal Touch of Gratitude.  Don't ever worry about sending a thank-you card if you don't have anyone to thank.  The main reason that you may never send a card is because you don't acknowledge the kindness of others.  And folks may not be doing anything nice for you, too.  You may not have a attitude of gratitude.  People are always doing nice things, but we don't acknowledge them.  It has always been proper etiquette for one to send a hand-written note of thanks for gifts or acts of kindness, etc.  I think it's an economical way to say thank-you.  Purchasing a stamp is not going to break the bank or bust your budget.  Someone said that it should be in the character of a Christian to send a thank-you note. 

When I think about the importance of having  a circle of support, I am reminded of Moses and how he had some social support during a critical time.  When the Israelites were in battle with the Amalekites, Moses had to hold his staff from God up for the battle to be won. His brother , Aaron and Hur,  a friend, placed a stone for him to sit on and held his hands up--one on one side, and one on the other side.  They helped Moses hold his arms up until the sun set and the battle was won. 

With a little help from friends, you can have a life filled with support, companionship, happiness, peace, and joy.  Without an adequate circle of support, you are setting yourself up for isolation and loneliness, factors that impact upon your mental health.  A circle of support can provide you opportunities to make a difference in someone else's life, just as a person can make a difference in yours.


For some tips on writing thank you notes go to :  http://entertaining.about.com/cs/etiquette/a/thankyou_2.htm