There comes a time in everyone’s life, where they do not feel supported by the people around them. That could be their spouse, their family, friends, co-workers, and I imagine, even their children. Lately I have been in my own emotional funk because of what I feel is lack of support by some of my own loved ones, on my business ventures. While I am used to people not understanding what it is I do, it is another thing altogether to realize that some people either don’t care, or maybe…. don’t agree with what I do. You can’t force people to agree with or like what you do, which I completely understand, but it does eventually take a toll on your relationship or your own self-worth.
When I first started this blog, I felt a lack of support from my parents. They did not understand why I did it and thought it was narcissistic, which caused multiple arguments during family trips. However, after many conversations and educational conversations, we all now feel a greater understanding to the other person’s point of view, and now my parent’s know that to help me, they need to actually read my blog, join instagram, like my posts, etc.
There are still quite a lot of people close to me who aren’t on instagram, never comment on my posts, never read my blog, or never ask me how anything is going with my business. Some of these people I talk to weekly, and yet my blog or business is never a conversation topic. I won’t say that it doesn’t bother me, because it does. But as much as I can be upset about it, I know from my own experience that there are ways I can address it. I have compiled a few steps to take to help people support you in whatever it is you feel needs support in your life, and a few questions to ask yourself about the support you really need. The result might surprise you.
What to do when you don’t feel supported
Step 1: Ask yourself: Are you supporting them? How do you show it?
This is the MOST important step. If you are not supporting them, in a way that they can feel, then how can you ever expect support back? Make sure you are asking questions about their life, their business, their family whenever possible. What are their pain points? Ask if there is any way you can help with them. Let them know that if they ever need to talk or vent, you are there for them. You cannot expect a great support if you do not give it.
Step 2: If yes, can you have a conversation with them in a productive, non-emotional manner?
The reality is that the only way to fix the problem, is to address it with them directly. If you cannot do that without getting upset and defensive, then you should bring up the topic. For me and my parents, this is probably one of the reasons why it took us so long to get on the same page. Instead of me being able to thoughtfully describe what it is I do and how they can understand it, I would just get pissed and yell at them. Not productive.
Step 3: Remind them of something you expect support on first before attacking. How do they respond?
Do not accuse first. Ask reminder questions. For me, this looks like; “Did you read that article I wrote last week about XYZ?” For you, it might be; “Remember that business idea I mentioned last week?” or “Did you ever read that article link I sent you?” or “Remember that art show I said I was having?”. This indicates that it is something that you did expect a response to or a follow-up conversation about.
Step 4: Suggest ways that might help you feel supported (give examples)
This is your chance to be direct in the response you expect. You might have a gig coming up and a friend says ‘Sounds fun!” to you, but what you really need is for them to ‘like’ and ‘share’ it on facebook. For me, this could be, “Well, I had you in mind when I wrote it and thought you might find it interesting. I would love for you to read it and tell me what you think”. For you, it could be, “Well I would like your support on this business venture if you are able. Can you connect me to XYZ?” or, “I was hoping you would respond about the article so that I could move forward with XYZ.” or “It would mean a lot to me to have you there for support. I am nervous not a lot of people will show up and I want to put my best foot forward.” This way, this takes away the misunderstanding of what they should be supporting, and how.
Step 5: If all else fails, ask yourself if it is really that important to have their support.
While step 1 is the most important, step 5 is often the hardest to stomach. Some people’s values or interests might be different than yours, so maybe these are not the people who’s support you really need or want. For my blog, anyone who isn’t interested, is of course, is not my target audience. I can’t make someone care, like, or comment, and neither can you. So it’s important to take the steps to understanding if you need their support to have a relationship at all. If you can move on without their support, do so, as you never know when their feelings will change. But if not, then gently cut the cord and realize that there are people out there who will become part of your tribe willingly!