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How to build a Positive Support System

A key factor in healing is surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people. For many people that is easier said than done. Many people find themselves surrounded by people who reinforce old negative habits and may no longer have contact with positive people from their past. You might have to start from square one.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Figure out what you are looking for in a friend. Here is a great article that reviews healthy relationships that might help you decide what to look for.
  2. Connect with a professional. You may have difficulty finding a support system right away, and a talking with a counsellor is a great way to get support for your day to day challenges. The counselor can also give you tips and advice while you are looking to build your network.
  3. Build confidence. If shyness or self consciousness holds you back read this article to build up your confidence.
  4. Attend a support group. There are support groups for a wide range of experiences and illnesses. Going to a support group is a great way to meet people working towards similar goals. They will also have a good understanding of your current challenges because they are going through them as well. If there aren’t helpful support groups in your city you could also look online.
  5. Hobbies! There are so many great opportunities to connect with people through your hobbies. You could take a class to further develop your skills while meeting people with common interests. You could also check out Meetup, Kijiji or Craigslist to find events that would be of interest to you.
  6. Know your neighbours! Make the effort to get to know the people you see regularly (neighbours, coworkers, etc.) on a personal level. These people could become close friends you can eventually depend on.
  7. Train your brain to find the positives. This habit can be challenging and it might take some work to make it stick, but you will find that it’s worth it. People enjoy being around positivity and will gravitate towards you. You will might also notice that your mood improves. Read this article for some tips on how to get started.  
  8. Accept help. When people offer to help, say “yes”! Studies have shown that doing favours for people actually makes us like them more. This is known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Learn more.
  9. Find non-human supports! Plants, pet and stuffed animals can be great comforts. They will listen when you need to vent, and taking care of a cat or a plant can be rewarding and provide a sense of purpose.
  10. Be Patient-  Creating trusting and healthy relationships takes time. Have backups in place in the when you need additional support such as a crisis line number.

I hope you find these tips helpful. It can be scary to put yourself out there but don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to try different things if your first attempts don't go as you hope. Eventually you will find your people!