I recently had a challenging situation in my personal life. As the weekend approached when I knew I’d be dealing with it, I intuitively scheduled visits with a few friends, and also some client and supervision sessions. I even held an informal counseling session for someone as a favor to a friend.
In other words, I created a community for myself. By the end of what could have been a very difficult weekend, I realized that there had been 14 women who had touched my life and supported my journey over a three-day period.
It’s not always in my nature to reach out for help, but it’s becoming more and more the norm as I experience just how amazing it feels to have a personal community to draw on for support.
Another benefit of asking for help is that it actually makes it easier for people to bond with us. In her powerful TED Talks The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame, Brené Brown talks about becoming vulnerable and piercing shame with vulnerability.
Sometimes there have been people I haven’t cared for, but as soon as they’re vulnerable with me and the barrier in them is down, I look at them so differently. Their vulnerability humanizes them and that’s such an important ingredient in a relationship. That’s true intimacy, being able to share grief with someone, being able to witness someone’s stories.
In fact that’s one of the main reasons 12-step groups are so successful. There is no other place you can find a community of people who understand what you’re going through. Even without the steps, even without abstinence, just to be in the community, to belong, to be one among many, with no hierarchy, that’s where the magic happens. You can’t recover in a vacuum by yourself. It takes other people.
Twelve-step groups and other personal communities act like a safe miniature version of the rest of the world, giving us a place to practice being better friends and better people.
Relationship issues may be what got someone into an eating disorder; cultivating healthy and supportive relationships can help them climb out.