FINDING SUPPORT

“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.”

― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

DISCLAIMER

If you’re struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, or isolation – always seek out a professional. Do not use the materials on this website to replace or delay treatment from a trained medical professional. This website is intended to be used in addition to therapy or other treatments. The ideas & exercises here are meant to be discussed with your therapist. They may have different or better recommendations regarding your treatment. Please always follow their advice over any material you find on this page. You’re worth more than you realize – please don’t go at this alone! 

THE GROUP EFFORT

Why Social Support Groups Matter

Human beings are designed to be social creatures. In ancient times, we lived in tribal societies with interdependence on the skills of others. You can find examples of these close-knit groups by studying the history of just about any cultural group of human beings. From the Paleolithic age into not too long ago, we relied on each other for social support. In our modern age, we have moved away from this close personal connection with others in favor of the convenience of new technology. Social media has provided us with a cheap outlet for social interaction while the COVID-19 pandemic has made many public tasks contact less. I’m not here to bash these essential changes to our society or to shun the dawn of the technological era.  I am here to point out such changes have changed how humanity interacts with one another. 

Good social support can help with depression, anxiety, & also experiencing a new spiritual Path such as Paganism. We are not invalidating the individual experiences of solitary practitioners because their experiences are just different from the group experience. When we’re in a social situation, be it a support group for depression or engaging with a Coven, we are given new opportunities to explore. Groups also present their own set of challenges. The more people involved with a group will potentially create drama, awkwardness, or misunderstanding. Given time and cooperation, a social support group can dramatically affect an individual’s perspective on their own life in a very positive way.

CHALLENGES

What’s the catch?

So what are the challenges in either finding or interacting with your social support group? Location can be a hurdle for some folks who live in rural areas. Utilization of resources on the internet is essential for people who live in isolation. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with building connections online if you live in a situation where meeting people of like mind can be an overwhelming reality. My advice, however, is to keep online interactions in perspective. Most people are not their full selves online and it’s always braver to challenge someone behind a keyboard than it is face-to-face.

I think one of the other common things which comes to my attention when working with others is hearing over and over how draining some social situations can be. It’s important to know what you want out of a group & also set clear boundaries for yourself when dealing with new folks. Usually, the headaches arise when folks aren’t being genuine to themselves or others in these social situations. I recommend journaling about what you expect from a group and also talking this over with friends, family, or other trusted persons in your life. 

IDENTIFYING YOUR NEEDS

As I mentioned before, it’s vital to first understand what your needs are from a group before engaging in larger social situations. Examples of identifying your needs include:

  • Asking yourself what you need. Don’t feel that you absolutely need to squish a round peg into a square hole. Be honest with yourself & don’t jump to quick judgement. Not every support system is going to work the same way for everyone. 

IE: Do I need a close group of people to share my recovery process with such as a support group? Do I need a place where I can openly practice my spirituality such as a church?

  • Set your boundaries. Not a hug person? Let people know you aren’t into physical contact. Are you uncomfortable participating in rituals however you enjoy workshops? That’s alright too! Before engaging with anyone, it’s good to take the time to write this down. When you head out to your group, review what you have written and don’t be ashamed to ask the staff of that group for help in communicating your desires. 

  • How often do you want to interact with others? Most support groups offer weekly meetings. Some Pagan churches offer gatherings and workshops on a monthly basis. Knowing how much you want to be around others and what your limits are is crucial when avoiding stressful situations.

  • What is your takeaway after visiting or interacting with your social support group? I believe what you learn from others is a very essential part of your personal transformation story. If you’re leaving a bar, for instance and feeling the toxic grip of a bunch of sad alcoholics each time… is that really contributing anything toward your growth? On the flip side, if you interact with a group of people who excite you, confuse you in positive ways, and leave you craving more… then you’re probably in the right place. 

  • Patience. It does take time for others to adjust to new people. Some people need more time to come out of their shell and interact with you. It will also take some time to learn the habits and distinct personalities of others. 

Please Check out this article for more on social support groups!

Resources

Head on over to the mega list of resources for Pagans!

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