Do you know your support language? Do you feel supported in your relationships?
I can think of the times I felt very unsupported by partners or friends. I remember when my ex-husband would criticize me in front of other people. I never knew what to say or do. Had it happened in private, I would have told him that what he said hurt me. But in the company of others, I just shrunk into myself, humiliated.
Criticism is obviously not supportive. Sometimes a lack of support is more subtle. Like the time, I was overworking and needed my husband to tell me that he would get involved and help. Or the times I was anxious, and I needed him to say to me that everything was going to be okay. I needed actual words of soothing.
Attachment Theory and Physical Contact
Many people need physical contact to feel fully supported and connected to their partners. Stan Tatkin, MFT, a clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® has an intervention called Welcome Home Exercise. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9FBdC2Kykg
He has couples struggling to create a more secure union by having the coming home couple be received by the at-home partner with an embrace. This sets full-body contact and is similar to what the baby and mother experience. Many of his interventions include slowing the couple down and having them attune to each other physically with physical contact. Our bodies often calm and relax when we are held or physically tune into each other (this is not sexual contact.)
This is, of course, sort of the ground root of support. It is the support we all needed as babies, the physical tuning in and comforting of one body to another.
That said, there are different kinds of support beyond this basic physical tuning in, and we may each gravitate towards feeling more supported by some kinds than other kinds.
According to Jennifer Freed (a psychological astrologer), there are four support languages. One for each element.
Fire support involves doing and actions and bold demonstrations
Do you need support in terms of doing? Do you need someone to take charge when you are overwhelmed? Bring flowers on your birthday? Have a party for you to celebrate an important event? Showing through bold action is more important than words for someone needing Fire Support.
Earth support involves consistent effort
Do you need your partner to share the household chores? Do you need someone who listens without fixing calmly and dependably? Sometimes we need help—rituals like you loading the dishwasher while I wipe up the counters after dinner. We want to feel like a team. We want to know that our partner wants to help and hold up his or her part of our responsibilities. This is important for Earth Support types.
Air support is expressed through communication
Do you need to be supported with words of affirmation? Do you need someone interested in your mental world, imagination, vision, and goals?
Do you need words of affirmation like:
I love you.
I am here for you.
I think you are amazing.
Communication like this is emphasized for Air Support types.
Water support is expressed through authentic feeling
Do you need someone who can listen to your vulnerable feelings and validate your concerns? Do you need someone who can just sit and be with you when you are upset? Do you need someone open with their feelings and able to tend yours? This kind of support is vital for Water Support types.
Personally, I need Earth, Air, and Water support more than Fire support. This is interesting because I have a predominance of fire in my chart. Maybe I need these other forms of support to balance out what I already have enough of innately?
We don’t always let others know what makes us feel supported (or unsupported). We may not have even identified for ourselves what it is that makes us feel loved.
Our friends, co-workers, and partners are not mind readers. It is our responsibility to let them know what helps us feel cared for.
Think about what feels unsupportive to you. Think about what feels supportive. Maybe make a list. Try to communicate with those you want to feel supported by what you learned.
Maybe find out what feels supportive to them.
Let us know what you learn about your support type!