When Our Support Base Is Not Supportive

Posted July 2, 2019 – [Published in Natural Awakenings Magazine, June 2019 Edition.]

The reality is not everyone agrees with us or believes that what we are doing is the right thing and in light of these facts they will end up not being as supportive as we would like them to be.

We can ignore the hurtful interactions or lack of support, which is the classic option of avoidance. It might be because we don’t have the energy after having argued with that sibling our entire life, so we go on pretending we don’t hear those comments made about or to us. This is one option.

Another option might be to reframe or give our loved one the benefit of the doubt. While not all words are intended to be hurtful, sometimes they are. So, we can also choose to recognize that our loved one may have had a bad day, is dealing with stress we may not know about, or simply used the wrong words in that moment. This option is one full of grace.

We can try to change them. If our loved one doesn’t understand our choices, we can try to convert them to our way of thinking. This would be the option for someone who has a lot of time and energy to spend. Remember we can’t get anyone to do anything so, although healthy dialogue may be an option, we cannot change anyone.

We can change the way we interact. Here is where we have real power over ourselves and our responses. While we don’t have the power to change anyone or convert something like their religious or nutritious beliefs even if we want to, we can change the way we interact in the situation. We can choose to change the topic. Often just mixing up the interaction can create dialogue about emotions of hurt that can advance the relationship, as opposed to simply staying stuck and feeling unsupported.

We can choose to not participate. This is often a hard decision as non-participation can take the form of leaving a family gathering when the conversation turns to why we don’t have kids. Or, it can take the form of not participating in the relationship, period. Part of living from our intuition
is not just about what food or medical choices we make, but also what relationships serve us and which ones don’t.

Sometimes of course our interactions with loved ones are unavoidable, like when it is our mother who has called us fat our entire life. Here is our reminder that we can choose how much to participate in a relationship like this. We can choose how often or whether or not we get together for dinner with this person. We can give ourselves permission to either participate or not participate in whatever way we choose. Our self-care is not selfish, but rather it is important!

If we don’t have family or if we have family and they are horrible, we can make a chosen family. If we need better friends then we can make an effort to go out and find new ones. We all want to be supported. And, we all deserve it, but remember it is not our job to convert others into agreeing with us or supporting our choices. Our job to be mindful of our own choices.

~Ashley Carter Youngblood, LMSW, LMFT, CADC, ADS, CMHIMP

Ashley Carter Youngblood is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider who has been in the field since 2007. She offers counseling at her woman-owned business, Inner Peace Counseling, PLC, for those in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Battle Creek, Paw Paw, and the surrounding areas of Southwest Michigan. She is passionate about her work with clients, whether it’s providing individual counseling, couples counseling, family therapy, life coaching, or education about one of her growing passions and areas of expertise: the connection between nutrition and mental health. Her specialties include holistic healing/mindfulness, counseling for women, anxiety, couples counseling, and addictions/substance abuse.

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