Feeling Supported

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

Time Required

15 minutes. Try to do this practice once a month to sustain your feelings of trust and connection.

How to Do It

1. Make a list of the people you're close to who offer you comfort or security. If it's helpful, consider: 

  • Who is the person you most like to spend time with?
  • Who is the person it is hardest to be away from?
  • Who is the person you want to talk to when you are worried about something?
  • Who is the person you turn to when you are feeling down?
  • Who is the person you know will always be there for you?
  • Who is the person you want to share your successes with?

2. Write down six positive qualities that are common to these people—qualities that they strongly embody.

3. Next, recall and visualize a specific situation when you were feeling distressed or worried and one of these people comforted and helped you.

4. Write a brief description of that situation and the way you felt during it.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

Why You Should Try It

Most of us want to be kind and caring, but that can be easier said than done, especially when we feel stressed, threatened, or insecure. Often in those moments, our natural reaction is to focus on ourselves and make sure that we’re safe instead of paying attention to other people’s needs and supporting them. But disconnecting from others can actually exacerbate our stress.

This exercise helps free you from that downward spiral. It asks you to think about the people you turn to when you’re distressed and recall times when you’ve felt comforted by them. Research suggests that increasing momentary feelings of comfort by thinking about supportive relationships can make us more trusting, compassionate, and helpful toward others in general.  

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

Evidence That It Works

Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., Gillath, O., & Nitzberg, R. A. (2005). Attachment, caregiving, and altruism: Boosting attachment security increases compassion and helping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.

Some study participants reflected on a supportive relationship by engaging in this writing exercise; other participants thought about an acquaintance or a professional relationship. Immediately afterwards, the people who reflected on the supportive relationship reported greater compassion for—and willingness to help—a person in distress.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

Why It Works

A great deal of research points to the importance of “attachment security,” a state that involves feelings of trust and comfort. When we feel safe and secure, our energy can be more easily directed toward caring for others. Reflecting on the people in our life who love and support us can increase our feelings of security and also remind us of the kinds of qualities we want to embody when supporting others—thereby making us more likely to respond compassionately when we encounter someone in need. 

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)


Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

For More

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/month | Duration: 15 mins
(5 member ratings)

The Feeling Supported practice invites you to call to mind your closest supporters, who form a crucial part of your social network. How strong are your social connections, online and off? Take the Social Capital quiz to find out. 

Completion Status

Comments & Reviews

  1. Arjuna Ranatunga
    Arjuna Ranatunga
    November 13, 2018

    Good article & concepts. They're visible or understandable. It helps, if or when one looks to the menu, to the left of the instructions; and takes a minute or two, to understand the reasons for & philosophy behind, the exercise.

  2. Katie
    February 11, 2018

    To everyone above, no where does it say that you have to use 6 people. It simple asks "who is the person..." six times. That doesn't mean you can't use two or three people and use the same person for different questions. I myself did it with 2 people. The only place it says 6 anything is when it asks for 6 positive qualities that are common to these people. I thought this was a great practice.

  3. JCG
    October 15, 2017

    I agree with the previous comments. The instructions should be changed to 1 or 2 people, because you are only making people feel worse when they realize they do not have 6 or more people they can turn to for comfort. A few quality relationships could be all a person needs to feel happy and supported.

  4. Julia Smith 1
    Julia Smith 1
    February 2, 2017

    6 People? Are you joking? Who has 6 people they are close to that they can trust and talk to? Having 2 people would be nice, let alone 6.

  5. JAZ
    March 26, 2016

    I love the idea of this practice. But I think this exercise might be a challenge for those with a very limited social network or those who have little experience connecting in this way. I'm wondering if it'd be as effective (empirically speaking) if it were done with a number smaller than 6. Could one start this exercise with a smaller number of people (even 1) to whom one turns to for support and still yield the positive outcomes? Perhaps even work up to a greater number over time.

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