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Your support systems aren't just for good days
I spend lots of time thinking about scaffolding, the platforms and walls used to elevate and support workers during construction. To me, it’s just the right metaphor for the structures that help us build new lives. If we are lucky, we find people and practices that allow us to climb higher than we ever knew we could. Whether it’s a group of friends, a community group, journaling, getting great sleep, eating well or fitness, we build powerful routines around these systems of support.
When we find ourselves feeling inspired we count on our scaffolds to help us move higher. But, as we progress higher, we often forget that they’re really there for the moments when we start to slip, to save us from free falling, and give us a sturdy platform to pick ourselves back up.
Instead of clinging more tightly to our scaffolds in slippery moments, many of us have a tendency to separate ourselves from our support systems. We fold inward, stop connecting and communicating, and start to wonder why we suddenly feel all alone and everything seems so much freaking harder.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring with clients this urge to run from support and have come to believe that it’s usually driven by fear of judgment and maybe a little self-punishment for guilt we feel about our struggles. It’s an understandable protective measure. When we are judging ourselves for lapsing back into old patterns, I think we often imagine others will judge us too. It’s really easy to forget that we chose those systems of support because we trusted them to hold us through the ups and downs. It’s also really easy to forget that we are imperfect, fallible, constantly learning… humans. And that when we slip, beating ourselves up and depriving ourselves of support usually just digs us into a deeper hole. What we really need is acceptance, encouragement and safe space to keep learning.
So maybe this note today is just a friendly and loving reminder to all of us to be scaffolds for each other, and to hold onto one another when we're falling fast. Reach out, write, paint, walk, plant something, boldly speak your truth. Grab onto some tiny thread of connection and pull yourself back onto your scaffolding. That’s why it’s there after all.
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Here’s to climbing higher, together.