I am sat here in the Amsterdam autumn sun on a terrace, this blog just wanting to spill out onto paper.
What I am wanting to write about is something that has become so obvious in my life in the past years that I almost forgot about it, yet it is really important and vital for my wellbeing:
I need a team. You need a team.
Your team is the people close to you, that support you while you are doing your own work of coming more and more into your own.
I once read a title of an email that I kept in my inbox ever since, so I could see it on a regular basis: “why becoming yourself is a team sport”
This first time I read it struck me. A little like: “huh? How is that possible?” And then I let it sink in. The essence of the message was: no matter how switched on you are, how determined, how well you learn to love yourself; you will need other people.
You will need your people. People that support you on your journey, that offer you perspective when you can’t see one, that cook for you or take you out into the world when you might want to hide under the covers. That join you under the covers when that’s the right thing to do. That slap you on your ass when you are stuck in the same old story. That love the parts of you that you can’t love at that moment. That show you that you are loveable, awesome and amazing just the way you are.
Because you simply cannot do it alone.
That message is an ever-evolving learning process to me, yet, when I let that sink in I feel such a sense of deep relief. Of connection to my tribe around me. To this realisation that we are all in this together. And that I simply don’t have to know everything all the time. That I can ask for help, for support, on my journey.
And that is totally okay.
The thing is: I had to learn this. Growing up fiercely independent, asking for help wasn’t easy. There were times I would rather die then admit I didn’t know, or needed support. I felt much better supporting other people. That felt good: I felt I was contributing in a meaningful way. Yet receiving support was really not on the radar.
I guess we all have our stories: beliefs that we are not strong when we need help, maybe a fear of becoming co-dependant (been there), maybe a fear of loosing yourself (been there), feeling protective of yourself (been there) and so on. I am not saying some of these stories do not carry value.
Yet, I have also discovered that true strength comes from a place of deep trust and also vulnerability, which includes knowing when I need to ask for help and allow myself to be be supported. I need support in order to fully become myself.
I know I can support myself on many levels. I have the capacity to be with so much more parts of me, than I have ever been able to do before. And I imagine most of you reading this have that capacity too.
Until at some point I simply don’t know anymore. I can’t get myself out of a jam, I don’t know which way is forward or which way is straight into the mess. I am caught in stuff I believe about myself.
And then I have learned to recognise: “Ha! I need support!”
Such a liberating realisation!
And trust me, that process is not always rainbows and unicorns. It used to take me days, weeks, heck sometimes even years to ask for help. It has gotten way easier by doing it, yet the only way I can often tell that I need support is that I just feel really ‘off’. Reverse engineering so to speak.
Since allowing support has been massive for my own development, I would love to share some insights I gathered along the way:
1. Want to build trust? Ask for support.
The number one way to build trust is: to ask for support. Yup. You read that right. People like it when you ask for support. It makes you more trustworthy. Isn’t that amazing?
Don’t take my word on it, but Brene Brown’s. She extensively researched this topic. Watch her insights here, and you’re guaranteed to get inspired.
2. Identify your trusted friends
It might be scary just to randomly reach out whenever you feel down and stuck. So it might really work to set some context with a few people you really trust to hold you in your vulnerable moments. You can explicitly ask them: “hey I want to practise asking for support; and you are one of my trusted friends, can I call you next time I feel down?” Considering number 1 above, and assuming that they are a trusted friend, they are very likely to say ‘yes’.
This way you are giving yourself a safe space to glide into it so to speak. Because when you are stuck, down, confused and need support the most, you are probably least likely to reach out. So do some prep work when you feel good! It’s such a nice way to care for yourself.
3. Learn to differentiate between support and ‘making it better’
I know for most people it is tempting to want to help a friend by offering advice, handy tips or trying to cheer them up. In authentic relating we call this ‘fixing’. I know this comes from a good place, yet in my experience, having a friend just be there without trying to make it better, allows me to deeply relax and feel seen just the way I am.
I don’t need to ‘manage’ anything, or defend my position, or explain ‘why it is so’. I can just be a mess and know that person loves me anyway. When I feel seen that way, not as a problem to be fixed but as a human being in need of support, it often transforms the situation on it’s own. No need to do anything else.
4. Build your team.
This is a little like number 2, but the next step.
Have a look at your life. What things are imported for your well-being? Where do you feel fed, and where are you maybe a little contracted, shrivelled up or neglected? In other words: where do you feel really supported, and which areas could be better? By getting a sense of this you can start expanding your team.
For instance, right now I feel really supported by some amazing women (my female tribe) and men (I had to learn that!), I feel I have my physical support in order (yoga, dance, tango and healthy eating), I like my balance between doing and being, I get out into nature on a regular basis, I love my energy work (chi kung and tantra), yet I want to implement more touch (massage, physical closeness) and I am also looking for a new coach to support me in my own coaching and business development. And I want to have more silly, uncomplicated fun. Still working on that one.
It is a pragmatic look at life, which I really love. Because the more I know what feeds me and where I can ask for support, the more I can allow myself to be nourished, and become a more whole(some) human being.
And that’s why becoming yourself is a team sport.