Do you ever struggle with wanting to call a previous partner or friend who may have hurt you or created toxicity in your life? One important step to prevent and eliminate this pattern is building a strong support system. When individuals have a stable and reliable support system, people feel less isolated and alone as well as more understood and emotionally connected to others. This is actually what individuals need when one is trying to detach from an unhealthy relationship, and reduce the risk of calling, emailing, text messaging, or using snap chat.
Support systems can be defined as any group of friends, family members, co-workers, and/or professionals that you feel safe with and who can help reduce destructive behaviors. It is very important to memorize the phone numbers of at least 3 people in your support system and to add them to speed dial. Likewise, you don’t want to drain one individual so having a few people is important. Another key factor is time zones; if you are awake at 2:00 AM, you may need a friend across the country if possible.
Key factors in your support system:
- Not feeling criticized or shamed. Look for people who are caring, supportive, and validating. Trust and honesty are equally important
- It needs to be a person you feel safe with, and also a person who isn’t insulting or attacking
- This person can help process as well as contain feelings
- Be careful of others projecting their own experiences or giving judgments
Support systems can also be dynamic and it is okay to be selective; one friend may be great for relationship advice but not as helpful for grieving loss. If someone makes you feel worse, it is likely they are not the person to use in that situation. Hurtful feedback is at times due to ignorance, envy, projective identification, closed-mindedness, and competitiveness. AND it is important to remember that the person you are detaching from is not in your support system. If you attempt to stay friends with this person, you are likely in denial and prolonging potential trauma. Boundaries are important for closure and moving forward.
If your support system is unavailable, consider an Alanon meeting, using support groups online, use other distractions (e.g., take a walk, TV), or journal what you would say to a friend.
Remember, “When one door closes, another door opens; but we often looks so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Focus on what you have rather than on what you may have lost or can’t have.