How’s Your Safety Net?

Thanks to the marvels of 21st century technology, we have email, text-messaging and video conferencing – all on our smart phones. We also have hundreds, perhaps thousands of “friends” on our social media sites. But, how many of these people have you actually visited with face-to-face lately? How many of these friends do you have meaningful social ties with? Perhaps you were classmates at one time, or you served together in the military, but they may have moved out of state or never even actually lived nearby.

Do You Know Your Neighbors?

Meaningful social ties are usually nearby i.e., in close proximity. A few decades ago, during the last century, proximity meant down the block or across the street. You all walked to school together or rode the school bus to school and back. Today we are more apt to make online friends, and too many people don’t even know their neighbors.

Strong Support Network

The phrase “meaningful social ties” actually refers to one question: how would your life change if the person wasn’t in it anymore? If the answer is “a lot” or “more than you care to think about,” then you have a meaningful relationship. Now ask yourself, of all the friends on your social media sites and your smart phone directory, how many people can you really count on for psychological support? This question is important, because everyone needs a strong support network, which requires more than an inspirational text-message or tweet.

The Downside of Upward Mobility

As people become more mobile, perhaps moving away from family members, or employment transfers, even just becoming more independent, the very nature of the support network can change drastically. Even today’s family structure has changed. The size of families has shrunk. Many people don’t even have a sibling, and their mother or their pet has become their “significant other.” Many people can’t name a spouse as a person in their support network!

A Safety Net With Real People

Some of your closest relationships may be with people who live far away geographically, in other states or opposite parts of the country. Their emotional or psychological support would be via long distance. A network of “friends” is very nice, especially if you enjoy receiving Christmas cards, but serious thought should be given to building your safety net with people who can provide support and advice.

Who’s More Frank and Honest?

You need to be certain there will always be people in your corner to provide emotional support when you need help. The same holds true for professional, legal or medical guidance. You need to know who you can contact quickly. Another type of support comes from frank, honest feedback about yourself. This can never come from strangers or acquaintances.

Consider building a strong safety net with mentors, skilled professionals, healthy peers and supportive family members who are all physically near you.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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