I just read a fantastic article on Goop about Support Language and how to self identify your own support language with the concept that once you know what you need to feel supported you can share this information with your life partner, boss, family members, children, etc. so they are aware of how to meet your support needs, and visa versa.
What a fantastic concept, which tends to mirror the Love Language concept.
(excerpt from the article below)
The concept of the Support Language is based on the the four elements—fire, earth, air, and water—which is a wonderful ways to understand differing needs for support. Through examining these four matrices and recognizing yourself there, you can start to be clearer about what your support language is and how to explain it to others. You can also have your close crew examine them and share with you how they most like to be supported.
FIRE: SUPPORT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH ACTION AND BOLD DEMONSTRATIONS
Show me instead of telling me. Bring me food, flowers, and gift certificates for experiences.When Aly’s mom died, she had no bandwidth to talk to folks. Some people brought meals and flowers without needing any conversation, and that’s what felt most supportive to her.
Show up when you say you will. Be someone I know will literally be there for me—at the time we’ve agreed upon in advance.Kim feels truly supported when she can absolutely count on folks to show up and not to change plans at the last moment.
Be truthful with me. When it comes to your authentic feelings, I want you to share honestly and thoughtfully.Leah experiences support when she knows what is being shared is genuine and not just people-pleasing. You will tell me when I have egg on my face literally and figuratively.
Celebrate me with enthusiasm and special rituals. Acknowledge my accomplishments.Kalpana feels most supported when her close ones mark her successes with real joy and fanfare.
EARTH: SUPPORT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH CONSISTENT EFFORT
Do the chores—both small and big—without being asked or needing to be cheered on.Pippa feels thrilled when folks just do what’s needed to maintain the space they share without needing praise for doing their part.
Give me thoughtfully selected gifts and supplies. Notice what you might give me that will best support my endeavors.Sean, in the thick of starting his own small business, feels most supported when folks gift him items he needs to get that business up and running.
Be calm, patient, and accepting when I need to vent or work through problems.For Jake, it’s vital to be able to rely on close folks to be calm, safe listeners who can hear all the difficult problems he shares about without trying to fix any of them.
Be dependable and consistent with your affections and actions.Ren says that it matters most to her when loved ones act affectionately in words and deeds on a daily basis instead of making occasional grand and showy exhibitions.
AIR: SUPPORT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH COMMUNICATION
Speak words of affirmation and acknowledgment to me on a regular basis.It helps Mary tremendously when her euphoric plans and visions are met with positive reinforcement and excitement.
Be actively curious and interested in my beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. Ask me great follow-up questions.Emerson feels most supported when someone shows active interest in his ideas and intellectual pursuits.
When I am upset, please take deep breaths with me to help me recenter.For Ray, breathing is the best way to reset; having someone breathe slowly and deeply with her is truly centering.
Be willing to disagree with me in a respectful way. Always look for what we have in common.Barbara loves agreement, and when genuine disagreement exists, she feels most supported when both parties deeply desire to understand the other’s differing viewpoint.
WATER: SUPPORT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH GENUINE FEELING
Be a safe container for me to share my deep feelings and sensitivities. Recognize that I have big emotions that sometimes feel overwhelming to me.Suzu feels most supported when someone can lovingly sit and hold her through her big feelings. She feels best when someone can stay with her without merging into her pain.
Treat my issues with empathy and compassion. Validate my concerns.Alicia feels supported when someone shows patience and acceptance for what she is going through. Feelings can be processed much more easily when they are seen as valid no matter what.
Be present and attentive when you are with me. Make me the priority when we are together.Bree feels supported when someone is completely present with her through both eye contact and attentiveness. This is when devices are out of reach and there is nothing in the world more important than this conversation.
Trust that I will be okay even when I am in a dark place. Give me space.Caryn needs never to be pushed into sharing before she is ready. People who give her space and demonstrate faith in her process feel most supportive to her. Some of us need to go deep within before we can come out with our hearts open. Don’t push at the heart gates, please!
Imagine for a moment if everyone in your social sphere understood your support needs and had a realistic idea of what most sustains you.
We might assume that if someone loves us, they’ll know what we need. Or we might assume that others want to be supported in the same way we do. Both these assumptions miss the mark in subtle and profound ways.
I wanted to share this with all of you to see if you identify with this and I deeply encourage you to share your support language with me (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below). I would like to know what element resonates with you or if you are like me and identify with a combination of all the elements.