When I was about 12, I watched one of the old Clint Eastwood westerns where he plays the role of the hardened cowboy:

Very little emotional expression, very few words, a tough-as-nails attitude, an occasional fight, some woman to fall in love with him and then, at the end, he leaves town to ride off and disappear into the horizon of solitude.

I thought this was what real men were like and, without truly realizing it, I subconsciously took on this image. Somewhere in my early thirties I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt so alone and disconnected from others.

That’s when I realized what I’d done, and I decided to let my inner-cowboy go into retirement. Ever since then I’ve felt more exposed and vulnerable than ever before, but it’s totally acceptable considering the amount of love that I now feel as well.

Ego...Pride...Image. Time and time again I see how these three dynamics interfere with people’s well-being and the development of healthy support systems. There are some erroneous rumors floating around which suggest mis-truths such as, “I am weak if I need others’ support” or “Other people don’t want to hear about my stuff” or “I shouldn’t have to ask for help.”

If you’ve heard these rumors, perhaps you should listen to this new rumor (which I take full responsibility for starting): “You get no extra points for trying to be super-human and trying to do everything by yourself. You actually show more strength and courage for taking the risk of making yourself vulnerable by asking for help.”

The truth is you’ll all get much farther in life if you have a team you can rely on to support and encourage you, as well as people to help you see your (hmmmm, how shall I put this?) B.S.: Your Blind-Spots. We can all stand to be reminded by others when they see our B.S. arise.

Getting Lit-Up: Plugging Into Your Supportive Communities

Developing an effective support system is the same as building any other type of relationship: You have to know exactly what you’re looking for and the more specific you are, the higher the likelihood you have in creating a truly solid and reliable system.

You have to know those absolutely, positively, got-to-have qualities (your deal-makers) to create the support system you want and need. You have the opportunity for the people who meet all these qualifications to be part of your inner circle, or as I like to call it, your personal posse.

What is it specifically you need from your inner circle? Trustworthiness? Honesty? Directness? Empathetic listening? Feedback without judgment?

The more clear and specific you are about what you need, the easier it’ll be for you to find the people who’ll make up your personal posse.

There’s an obvious flip-side to these requirements as well. You must know what’s absolutely intolerable (your deal-breakers) since you’ll be counting on these individuals to function as your personal board of directors (with you as CEO, founder, creator, and owner).

Make a list of the traits and characteristics you require and refer to it as your “recipe for a successful support system.” Make another list of these unacceptable traits, and feel free at any time to demote anyone who demonstrates any of these unacceptable standards.

I’m often asked, “Where do I find people for my support network?”

With your list of requirements and knowing what you want and need, you can begin asking yourself where people of these qualities and traits are likely to appear.

Truth is they may appear anywhere at anytime, but there are probably certain venues where you are more likely to find them. If, for example, you are looking to add spiritual guidance to your support network you would be wise to go to events and communities that would appeal to those individuals who value and practice spirituality.

The more clearly you define what you are looking for, the easier it will be to find it. And, like everything in your life: If you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you ever possibly find it?

Author's Bio: 

I provide mental health counseling, marriage counseling and relationship counseling to help professionals and their families eliminate stress, maximize success and create extraordinary relationships at home, at work and in the community. As a mental health counselor, marriage counselor and relationship counselor my number one goal is to help people live their lives and relationships fully and completely. I've been offering counseling, coaching, and educational programs since 1987. My programs are focused on empowering people to have more successful lives, businesses and relationships. You'll always find FREE Life and Relationship Success Special Reports at http://kendonaldson.com/. I'm also the author of Marry YourSelf First! Say "I DO" to a Life of Passion, Power, Purpose and Prosperity http://www.marryyourselffirstbook.com/