Psych astrologist Jennifer Fried says finding and providing support is a two-way street. Often times, Fred discovers that it doesn’t mean that people lack support from one another – rather, that people just don’t know how to deliver the kind of support they really want to receive. Even with the best of intentions, when we assume that people automatically know what we need, or worse yet, when we think everyone wants to be supported in the same way, we can miss the point.
Our support languages, which are very similar to our love languages, are divergent, Fred says, and it’s important to take the guesswork out of figuring out how best to support each other. When selecting our support language (which Freed instructs us below), we can also see how other people like to be supported. Farid asked her clients to share their feeling of greater support from others and found that most people fall into one of the four categories, which can be described using the elements of fire, earth, air and water. “It’s not difficult to support someone when you know what they are interested in,” she explains, “and there is nothing more satisfying than receiving your support well.”
What is your support language?
Written by Jennifer Farid, PhD
We all need support more than ever, but it isn’t always clear to us or to others what real support looks like or feels like. We can learn about our own love languages and the love languages of others through self-help books and articles, but this does not completely cover the depth and breadth of the ways in which we can truly support each other as friends, family, co-workers or lovers.
I have asked dozens of clients to share what they feel is support from others. While talking to people about their language of support, I saw that most people hadn’t really thought about it. They certainly did not communicate these needs to their closest staff, nor did they know exactly what their staff needed to feel supported.
To help them define their own support language, it made them think when they felt unsupported. They shared that they felt unsupported when:
Someone belittles my feelings
Someone interrupts him repeatedly while I’m talking
I was unfairly judged or criticized
People seem to have been checked in while I was speaking
People complain, undermine, or compare themselves to me
When people chatter and belittle others (because I know if they are doing this to others, they probably do to me too)
When people talk behind my back
When people don’t tell me what they want or need from me
When people don’t recognize me
From this list, it seems clear that what people want the most is to be understood and encouraged. Sounds simple enough, right? However, this is the most interesting place, because each of us has a very specific map of what we experience as support. One size does not fit all.
It turns out that the four elements – Fire, Earth, Air and Water – are great ways to understand the different needs for support. By examining these four matrices and getting to know yourself there, you can begin to be more clear about what support language is and how to explain it to others. You can also have your close staff examine them and share how they would like to receive support.
Fire: Support is expressed through action and bold demonstrations
Show me instead of telling me. Bring me food certificates, flowers, and gifts for experiences.
When Ali’s mother died, she did not have a frequency band to talk to people. Some people brought meals and flowers without needing any conversation, which is what she felt most supportive of.
Show up when you say you will. Be someone I know who will literally be there for me – at the time we agreed in advance.
Kim feels really supported when she can totally count on people to show up and not change plans at the last minute.
be honest with me. When it comes to your true feelings, I want you to share them honestly and thoughtfully.
Leah enjoys the experience of support when she knows what is being shared is real and not just people-pleasing. You’ll tell me when I have an egg on my face, literally and figuratively.
He celebrated me with special enthusiasm and rituals. Acknowledge my accomplishments.
Kalpana feels most supported when her relatives record her successes with real joy and noise.
Earth: Support is expressed through constant voltage
Do household chores – small and large – without being asked or encouraged.
Pippa feels excited when people only do what is needed to preserve the space they share without having to be complimented for doing their part.
Give me carefully selected gifts and supplies. Notice what she might offer me that will better support my endeavors.
Sean, in the midst of starting his own small business, feels the most support when people provide him with the items he needs to get this business up and running.
Be calm, patient and accepting when I need to vent problems or solve problems.
For Jake, it is imperative that you be able to count on close people to be calm and safe listeners who can hear all the difficult issues he shares without trying to fix any of them.
Be trustworthy and consistent with your emotions and actions.
The most important thing for her, Ren says, is for her loved ones to act affectionately in words and deeds on a daily basis rather than holding big, cheerful exhibitions once in a while.
Air: Support is expressed through communication
Speak to me with words of affirmation and recognition on a regular basis.
He helps Mary immensely when her joyful plans and visions are met with positive reinforcement and excitement.
Be active with curiosity and interest in my beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. Ask me great follow-up questions.
Emerson feels the most support when someone shows an active interest in their ideas and intellectual endeavors.
When I’m upset, please take a deep breath with me To help me refocus.
For Ray, breathing is the best way to reset; Having someone to breathe with her slowly and deeply is really pivotal.
Be prepared to disagree with me in a respectful way. Always look out for the commonalities between us.
Barbara loves agreement, and when there is a real disagreement, she feels the most support when both parties deeply want to understand the other side’s different viewpoint.
Water: Support is expressed through real feeling
Be a safe container for me to share my deepest feelings and sensitivities. I realize I have great emotions that sometimes feel overwhelming for me.
Suzu feels the most support when someone can sit her lovingly and hold her down with her great feelings. She feels comfortable when someone can stay with her without indulging in her pain.
I deal with my problems with compassion and compassion. Validate my concerns.
Alicia feels supported when someone shows patience and acceptance of what she’s going through. Feelings can be addressed more easily when they are seen as valid, regardless of the cause.
Be present and alert when you are with me. Make me the priority when we are together.
Brie feels supported when someone is totally there with her through eye contact and attention. This happens when devices are out of reach and nothing in the world is more important than this conversation.
Trust that I’ll be fine even when I’m in the dark. Give me space.
Caryn never needs to pay to participate before she is ready. People who give her space and demonstrate faith in her work feel more supportive of her. Some of us need to go deep inside before we come out with our hearts open. Don’t hit the heart gates please!
Imagine for a moment if everyone in the social sphere understands your needs for support and has a realistic idea of what keeps you the most.
We might assume that if someone loved us, he would know what we need. Or we might assume that others want to be supported in the same way we are. Each of these assumptions miss the point in subtle and profound ways.
For example: In my relationship, I feel supported when my partner gives me consistent words of encouragement and fascinates me with my creative ideas; My support profile mostly falls under the Air component. My partner experiences support when I do a lot of housework without any alert or need for recognition – a kind of earthy support. When we both remember to prioritize these support needs, we feel energized and loved.
At work, my support needs are different. I experience support when people are directly with me with their needs, desires, and appreciation. Two of my colleagues feel most supported by a frank and consistent acknowledgment of their efforts. Supporting someone is not difficult when you know what they are interested in, and there is nothing more satisfying than receiving your support well.
None of us should be tasked with knowing how to support another person unless that person tells us what they need. When we release the pressure to guess or mind-read, we can have a clear connection about what support is effective for us and others, and become more effective in preserving and caring for one another.
Jennifer Freid, PhD, Counselor, Workshop Leader, and Author with more than thirty years of experience in the fields of psychological astrology and social-emotional learning. Fred works as a consultant for Co-Star and an author Use Your Planets Wisely: Master your cosmic potential through psychological astrology.
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