Roses have trellises to support them. Buildings have scaffolding, then infrastructure. Even bicycles have training wheels. What kind of support do you have?

Somehow, many people hold a rugged, independent notion that they can make it on their own. Citizens of the United States love to harken back to pioneer ancestors who allegedly struck out on their own. Yet, those pioneers were some of the most interdependent people you could ever find. They had to reach out and help their fellow travelers and their neighbors if they expected to survive.

Fast forward to today - you might have a job (or two, in this economy), a spouse, children, parents, community responsibilities, religious obligations and maybe a pet or two all clamoring for your attention. At once. Consistently. And you have been led to believe that you can handle everything on your own.

Your support network

Not true. Not at all. You need a support network to get you through. A support network is a more organized way of thinking about which of your friends support you in what ways. It's helpful as a reminder of who is there when you need them. It's even more helpful as a reminder that not every friend can help in exactly the same way. You have your skills and talents - so do your friends. Thinking about who might be your first choice to meet a particular need can save you and your friends from a lot of frustration.

Think about who you rely on for different things. You go to your mechanic when the car needs work; to the doctor when you need medical advice; to a lawyer when you need a contract drawn up. It wouldn't make any sense to drop the car off at the dry cleaners and expect the oil to be changed, would it? In the same way, it wouldn't make sense to go to anyone but the most skilled for particular kinds of personal support.

Four kinds of support

Your support network should have four types of people in it: Cheerleaders, Comforters, Clarifiers, and Confronters.


Sometimes, you feel like you have never done anything worthwhile. Your self-esteem has slipped out of the room. Time to call your cheerleader! Cheerleaders offer unconditional support all the time. They think that you are wonderful "just the way you are" (to quote Bridget Jones' Diary). Cheerleaders will tell you how great you are even if all you did was get out of bed in the morning. Cheerleaders are relentlessly enthusiastic about even your smallest accomplishment. They urge you on to do whatever you want to do, not by pushing, but by applauding every effort and reminding you just how wonderful you are. This is exactly who you want to call when you're feeling it's all too much and you're too little.


A comforter is the first person you call when things aren't going well. Comforters give you all the sympathy you need - and nothing but sympathy. They make a pot of tea or open a bottle of wine or find something chocolate and sit down to listen and listen and listen. They offer you words of comfort. They are willing to hear the same story hundreds of times if that's what it takes. A comforter will not try to fix things or offer advice. They will agree with you when you say Fred is a louse and ought to disappear off the face of the earth ("I always hated that Fred!") and agree with you again five minutes later when you say that Fred is the most wonderful person who ever existed ("Your are so lucky to have someone like Fred in your life."). They just offer you all the unconditional support you need whenever you need it.


Eventually, you'll feel bolstered up enough to get some serious work done. This is when you'll want your clarifier. A clarifier is an expert at sorting things out. Clarifiers help you get at what is going on beneath the surface. They probe to find the real problem and help you get a clear idea of what you want to do about it. You can bring any situation to clarifiers and they will ask you questions, listen, ask more questions, pose hypothetical situations, help develop solutions, and, finally, help you pick the solution that will work best for you. When you can't figure out what went wrong - or right - or what to do next, sit down with a clarifier and work through the situation.


Once you have an action plan, you may get a little lazy about carrying it out. This is when confronters are wonderful. A confronter will not let you get away with a thing. Confronters remind you of your commitments and push and push until you meet them. If you mention a goal to them, they will ask for a progress report every time you see them. You may not always like your confronters, but they are essential for all of us who have a tendency to procrastinate. They don't accept excuses and they don't give up until you finish what you started.

Building a Network

You can create a four-square grid to look at your network. Try to have two people in each box. Try not to put the same person in more than one box. This reminds you to go to the most helpful person first and also helps you from overburdening friends by relying on them for too many things.

Create a second grid that shows who you support. Review your network every six months to see if the people in your life have changed and to see who else you can support. Need a little extra help with this? A good coach is a great way to get started!

Want more information about how to expand your comfort zone to build the life of your dreams? Life Architect, Susan R. Meyer can help you create your personal blueprint. Free resources at

Author's Bio: 

Susan R Meyer is a Life Architect, helping you create the blueprint for your ideal life. Want more information about how to expand your comfort zone to build the life of your dreams? Life Free resources incuding the Goal Blueprint Workbook can be found at