Wanting the best for those we care about is a very common trait. We try to support those around us, helping them on their path, providing them with support and encouragement. This can often be very successful and we see those we care about grow in confidence as they progress through life. How much support and what types of support is it best to provide? These are two questions that I frequently ponder upon and wanted to share with you.
I believe the answer to this lies in Positive Psychology, as Positive Psychology’s philosophical roots are firmly grounded in Humanistic Psychology. The branch of psychology known as Humanistic Psychology views humans from the perspective that they are unique, self-determining individuals. So therefore it is best to tailor the amount of support we give to those we care about according to their individual needs at any specific time. Sometimes they may want direction, at others they may want practical tools, while at others they may just want to know we are there in the background providing encouragement and stability. We are fortunate in that we all have different roles to play in different people’s lives.
The Dark Side of Support
While our care and support may be wanted, it is best if we tread carefully when providing this support. If we can manage to stay in a mindful and reflective state so that we can fully tune in to what the persons wants or needs, we will be able create a more nurturing environment that facilitates growth/ enables ha individual to grow. However, if we think we know what is best for them or the best way to achieve something, we may actually be hindering them. We may be preventing them from acting in their unique way to become their full unique self. Positive Psychology and humanistic psychology suggest the best form of support is that which allows the person to become the best version of who they are meant to be. In other words to self-actualise.
Positive Psychology Interventions
Fortunately, we have many Positive Psychology tools we can use to help others develop through self-discovery and self-reflection. Activities such as identifying and using strengths enable the individual to complete tasks in their own preferred style which is energising. Encouraging them to cultivate gratitude can be very powerful especially in times of change and uncertainty. Helping them to develop self-compassion can help when trying new things or when the individual is starting out on their own path.
An Example From Nature
I was recently reminded of the pros and cons of support while observing the lavender in the picture above come into bloom. This always provides me with a sense of joy and anticipation, while watching the shoots appear, then the buds and finally the blue of the flowers becoming more and more vivid.
You may notice that the lavender on the left is a strong plant with many shoots, it has a dense shape and deep colour that can be seen from afar. While the plant on the right, circled in red, is spindly. It has only a few blooms that instead of standing tall, flop to the ground. This is because this second plant grew behind another plant, Saxifraga Urbium and the flowers from the Saxifraga propped up the emerging lavender blooms. However, once the Saxifraga had been cut back, the lavender flopped. The plant that had initially supported it, had actually done the opposite. On the other hand, the lavender that was free to grow naturally, supported through soil, sun and water and unimpeded by plants or props, grew into a strong healthy vibrant plant.
That is one of the reasons I find Positive Psychology so compelling, we have such a wide variety of tools available to us, that enable us to become strong, unique, supportive people.
Let me know what Positive Psychology Interventions have you shared with others to help them through their journey of personal growth.
Read more about Bryony Shaw and her other articles HERE
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