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If you’re feeling like Chuck and Wilson stranded on a deserted island, you probably need to reach out to your support system, that curated network of people who get you. You might refer to them as your inner circle, your posse, your tribe (although unless you’re indigenous, that term is misappropriated).

For many of us, we may have multiple support systems depending on our lives and interests.

I love yoga (obvs) but I’m not going to turn to my husband when I have a frustrating client. I also enjoy reading and writing romance novels (stow your judgy face) but my yoga peeps don’t care what a character arc is or how maddening the publishing world can be.

5 types of people in your support system

Whether it’s caber-throwing or dog-showing, there are five types of people you need in your support system. Find out who they are.

The Mentor

This is the person that we can turn to when we have questions, when you’re getting down, when you need some accountability. This mentor, they don’t have to be an expert in their field, or whatever you are wanting them to mentor you for, but, be experienced.

What is that person’s experience, and how can you benefit from this persons experience? They don’t need to be 10 or 20 years older; they just need to be a few steps ahead of you on their journey to be a good mentor.

The BFF

This could be your best friend forever or your best friend for now – whichever works the best for you. The BFF is that person who listens to you–good and bad–lets you rant, cheer, and share all of your wins and losses.

There’s an equal balance shared between the two of you, so not a BFF that’s all about her, or that she might be one of those 5 people that you need to let go of. But a BFF that when you get together, no matter how much time has passed between visits, you pick up where you left off.

 

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The Peer

Whether you’re working in the corporate world, own your own business, or teach yoga as a career or a hobby, it’s important for you to have a peer.

This isn’t your BFF that you talk about all your personal or professional issues. A peer is someone who is somewhat equal to you, a counterpart; someone doing similar or comparable work to you. You can bounce off ideas, share in the unique struggles and frustrations.

The Mentee

Just like you have a mentor that’s just a little bit above you, you’re also giving back. You’re working with a person who’s just a little bit under you, providing your expertise, guidance, and advice. You may just be a couple of steps ahead of them just like your mentor might be a couple of steps ahead of you.

Take time to help your mentee, because in reality, none of us got to where we are today by ourselves. Somebody along the way helped you out, and did it out of the kindness and generosity of their heart. So, in turn, be that person for somebody else.

An Unconditional Love

Someone that you love unconditionally – and that loves you unconditionally back. Love makes the world go round. Love is what gives meaning and purpose to everything we do, and it’s such a comfort to go home and have that person.

And it doesn’t matter who that person is. It could be your parents or your child. Someone who when you walk in the door, they open up their arms and give you a big hug. A pet can provide unconditional love. I can lay on the bed with my dog, pet her, and everything feels just that much better.

An unconditional love could be a spouse or a partner. Again, just somebody who when the world feels topsy-turvy, you know you can reach out and get a hug from them. And having that person there makes everything a little bit better.

How to Build a Support System

If one of these five types of people is missing from your support system, or you’re generally looking to expand your circle of friends, you’re probably going to need to cultivate new relationships. (Did all the introverts run to their closets to hide?) Cause I get it. Reaching out, meeting people, genuinely engaging is super hard.

You may need to create “space” for new relationships by releasing old, tired, or toxic people. Then your focus is freed up to try groups like Meetup or CitySocializer, a workshop in your area of interest, or continuing education at your local community college. You can also try volunteering at non-profit organizations, starting a book club, or taking a yoga class at a different studio.

Over time, the right people who are there for you in a real way will show up.

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