How to Build Your Support Network

Mar 15, 2016

How to Ask for Help |

It’s hard to ask for help. Some of us loathe to admit to vulnerability, others don’t want to put anyone out of their way on account of our needs. Still others believe they don’t deserve help to get through difficult situations that were, in some way or another, within their control (like having kids, or marrying a person who travels all the time for work…).

I’ve talked before about chivalrous support – provided by the kind of people that sneak up to your doorstep, drop off a lasagne, and sneak off again without you having to answer the door with tear-streaked cheeks in your pyjamas, or, worse…ask them to.


Usually these people – the ones that will come in the middle of the night and rock your baby when you’re losing your mind with exhaustion – are family, or lifelong friends, if you’re lucky enough to have them nearby. Even with these support networks, admitting vulnerability is a challenge.

And if you don’t have these kinds of support, what can you rely on?


You have to build your support network.  

Don’t worry, I’m not necessarily suggesting that you join your local soccer team, or chat up your weird co-worker.  People so often mistake the size of their support network for the quality of that network.

There’s nothing more depressing than feeling like you really need that lasagne (or someone to look after your kids, walk your dog, or just come over and be a warm body in your house when you’re lonely) and realizing that though you know all kinds of people, none of them are there for you when you really need it.

And then you get into that whole asking for help thing.

I have a different solution.

You need to show people how you want to be supported.


You need to be the one with the lasagne.  You need to call when your friend posts vague/heartbreaking things on Facebook.  You need to ask your co-worker to lunch when you hear sobs through the cubicle fabric.

By supporting others, when you can, in the way (and frequency) that you most often require help, you’re more likely to have a lasagne on the doorstep when you don’t have the time/heart to nourish yourself in the way you need.


Your turn:


How do you most often require support from others?  Childcare?  Food preparation?  Task delegation?

How can you provide that kind of support to someone else?

Can you make a plan to provide chivalrous support to at least one person per week?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!