Calling in Backup: How to Secure a Reliable, Responsive Support System


“No man is an island” the saying goes. Well, no woman is either!

That’s not to say that women are weak. Quite to the contrary.

We’re strong, tough, and robust. We bear up under the pangs of childbirth—often multiple times. And we have an amazing ability to survive.

With all that going for us, sometimes it can be hard to accept that we still need a support system. We simply can’t carry the whole load, all the time.

Just think of a police officer. They’re strong and tough and trained to survive highly dangerous situations. But an astute officer always calls for backup. They know that part of their survival depends on the support they get from others.

It’s easy to see why someone in that line of work needs a good backup system.

Yet, it’s no different with negotiating the rough terrain of life. Sometimes you may get confronted with an unexpected crisis that makes you feel very discouraged. Trying to tough it out alone can be an uphill battle.

Wisdom tells you to call in backup. How can you obtain it?

Building a Reliable and Responsive Support System

It’s important to secure a backup system now—before you find yourself in a critical situation. The important thing is, your support group must be reliable and ready to help.

What should a support system be able to do for you?

An effective support system should be able to back you up, assist you to move in a direction of your choice, and leave you stronger than you were. Ideally, it should provide you with a variety of different types of support, such as:

  • Restore your confidence and competence in stressful situations – Helping you cope with major transitions, times of emotional difficulties, health crisis, or an overload of demands on you.
  • Assist you in gaining new abilities – Challenging you, teaching you, and providing emotional support when you’re feeling awkward or incompetent.
  • Collaborate with you to achieve specific goals – Contributing skills and resources that you may not have or don’t wish to develop to reach your objective.
  • Help you maintain a high level of performance – Having access to resourceful individuals when you’re doing well, not neglecting the need for support at that time.

Who should be part of your support system?

It should include a variety of individuals, not only those that are close to you or that listen well or give good advice. Some may fulfill a variety of functions, while others can only offer to fill one specific role. Which means you will have to be selective about who should be part of your backup, deciding who may be or not be particularly helpful.

Members of your backup system may be:

  • A confidant – Somebody close that is sympathetic, nurturing, and caring. Also, somebody who shares your interests, values your abilities, and respects your point of view.
  • A role model – Someone that can help you identify goals, values, and possibilities. Also, someone with knowledge about opportunities and the wisdom to give you good advice.
  • A challenger – Those people who motivate you to think outside the box, encourage you to explore and develop new skills and seek out hidden capabilities. They may be demanding but help you grow.
  • A helper – Someone you can depend on to provide assistance in a crisis situation. That may not be someone you’re personally close to but someone that can connect you with resources—people or organizations—and who may be very good at solving specific kinds of problems.
  • An associate with common interests – Those that may share a certain hobby with you or that can relate to a specific problem you’re dealing with because they have similar concerns. Also, groups that can help make changes in various systems through collective actions.

Where can you turn to find members for your support system?

Look around your —in your past, in the presence, at home, at work, during off-times. Keep your eyes open to who inspires you, who challenges you, who makes you feel cared for and secure, who provides you with invaluable information.

Once you determined who would be reliable and receptive to filling the roles in your support system, you’ll have to be proactive and reach out to them. Consider turning to:

  • Family and friends
  • Those in your church group or congregation
  • Members of your dance class, theater group, book club, or sports team
  • Your gym instructor or nutrition guide
  • Mothers you regularly see in your baby/toddler play circle
  • Your beautician or manicurist
  • Coworkers or your boss
  • Former or current teachers and classmates
  • Your physician or counselor
  • the list is endless…

Remember, you’re not alone—needing help at times is perfectly normal. You’re strong, but you’re not “Supermom” or “Superwife.” There’s no shame in having a support system and calling in backup when times get tough, when you need an extra hand, or when you don’t know what’s next.

Even when life runs smooth, it’s great to have the support to keep you going.


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