Getting courageous about supporting yourself

This post originally appeared in my Slow Letters, an email I send out every second Monday that I hope will feel supportive and nourishing to you. If you enjoy the following, sign up here to receive my Slow Letters delivered straight to your inbox.

I was filling out a few journaling prompts the other day, and I got to one that read “I feel supported when…”

Without thinking I immediately wrote “… when I am supporting myself.” And then I realized what I had written.

I feel supported when I am supporting myself.

I stopped writing abruptly, taken aback by the words I had just put on the page. I feel supported when I am supporting myself? Wait. Don’t I feel supported the most when other people are supporting me? But then it dawned on me, of course not. I need to support myself first. I absolutely rely on the support of my partner, friends, and family often and I am truly grateful for that. But I feel most supported by them when I can offer myself what I need first.

I’m not advocating for anyone to go it alone. There are absolutely times when we all need external support – from a friend, a partner, a therapist. Supporting myself doesn’t mean not asking for help, it means getting really clear about what I need in moments of pain or suffering first.

Supporting myself means not relying on anyone else for the answer.

More and more I’m learning that feeling supported can be an inside job.

So, I’m getting really clear about what I need to do to feel supported or to ask for that support from others.

When I’m in a place of overwhelm, vulnerability, shame or any other painful emotion, I can convince myself that someone else (often my partner) should do the work of making me feel better. It’s easy to fall into this pattern of relying on others to pull us out of our pain. But when I do that, while I’m immensely grateful that person is there, I can end up feeling disempowered.

It’s hard to feel truly supported from a place of reliance.

Instead, when I take the time to figure out what is going to make me feel truly supported, I immediately take that power back. Usually, this means I need a few minutes alone to work through what’s going on, feel my feelings, and get clear about my needs, before reaching out. Then, when I do ask for help, I do so from a place of empowerment and strength rather than from a place of lack.

This might look different for you – and that’s okay.

Being able to ask for support from others shows courage. However, I’ve learned that in the actual moment of pain, what I most need is a few minutes to feel my emotions and listen carefully to what I need before I involve other humans in the situation.

What is the most courageous thing you can do to take care of yourself when you are in emotional pain or feeling hurt?