Team Lift Approach To Life


I always say life is a "Team Lift" effort. When we try to take on life and life's problems alone, we tend to get taken down and even hurt. We need healthy support from others. It can be scary to reach out to others and put our trust in them that they will not hurt us, but it is a necessary step in healing and recovery. Having a healthy support system and engaging with them is a key step in being successful. I often talk with patients about the concept of the Window of Tolerance. For ease of description, this is our comfort zone. When we go through life we encounter situations that cause us more anxiety/fear/anger and situations that cause hurt/sadness. We can typically manage these situations without shutting down or lashing out in anger or running away. When we experience traumas and stresses, our Window of Tolerance becomes smaller. At that point, the same negative situations that we were tolerating previously now become much more difficult than before and sometimes cause our fight/flight/freeze responses to be triggered. We can be proactive in keeping our Window wide. Exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep are some factors that play into this. Another big one is having a support system. Knowing that someone is there to catch us if we start to fall. Knowing that in times of need, we can pick up the phone and someone will be there to listen and provide support. This helps to make life easier. This helps to handle life's road bumps a bit easier. Last year I attended a men's group and we went through a curriculum written by some Navy Seals. In there it talked about how from day 1 they have to find their "swim buddy", i.e., that person that supports them, that holds them accountable, that pushes them forward, the one that will help them through the toughest of tough situations and to celebrate the victories. We were asked to think about who our swim buddies were and to purposely reach out to them. Tell them about ourselves. Tell them our needs. Listen to them. Listen to their needs. My rule of thumb is to have 5 "swim buddies". When talking about ourselves and our needs, we can get exhausted. We drop our masks and our defenses. We become vulnerable. This is emotionally taxing. 5 tends to be a good number to share this with. It is not too few that we really limit our options if we need to reach out and not too many that we aren't completely open with everyone. Who are your "swim buddies"? Who is there for you to help provide that "team lift" that we all need? If you are not sure who your team is then I encourage you to sit down today to start to think about it and start reaching out. There's no time like the present to begin working on ourselves!

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