Social Support: The Benefits of Creating Positive Relationships

positive relationships


Building positive relationships is a vital component to living a happy and successful life. Do you have the social support you need to reach your full potential?


No man is an island. The aim of self-improvement isn’t to do everything completely on your own, but to cultivate positive relationships that bring out the best version of you.

We often like to believe that we are completely independent and we don’t need to rely on others to be happy or successful. However, the truth is your environment (including the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis) can ultimately “make you” or “break you.”

If you surround yourself with negative and toxic people, they will often bring you down to their level; but if you surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, they will raise you to new heights.

Social support is essential no matter what your goals are in life, whether it’s trying to overcome a drug addiction or become a successful CEO, you need the right people in your corner if you want to succeed.

Are the people in your life rooting for you or against you? Take a moment to reflect on the top 3 people you spend your time with, and ask yourself if they are having an overall positive or negative influence on your life.

Naturally, there are many benefits to creating positive relationships and building a robust social circle. Some of these benefits are obvious, while other benefits we often underestimate or ignore.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the importance of positive relationships and social support.


The Importance of Social Support and Positive Relationships

  • Encourage personal growth: Real friends like to see each other succeed. One benefit of positive relationships is to encourage each other to set goals and work toward them. If you have a friend trying to lose weight, you try your best to support their habit changes and compliment them when they make progress. If you have a friend in a band, you support them by listening to their music, going to their shows, and cheering for them. A good friend is happy for your success as if it is their own.
  • Support during tough times: When things get rough in life is when you most need to look toward others for love and support. Simply having someone you can talk to about your current problems and struggles can lift a huge psychological weight off your shoulders. Sometimes all we need is someone to say, “I feel you” and let us know they understand what we’re going through.
  • Collaborate on projects: The more we get along with someone, the better we are at collaborating and working together. Human relationships thrive when individuals can combine their skills and talents, and successfully create something greater than the sum of their parts. Research shows that having friends at work can often improve productivity and job satisfaction. When we work as teams, we often don’t want to let others down, especially when we like them. This is the stuff that makes businesses and other social organizations work.
  • Having fun and feeling good: One of the most obvious benefits of positive relationships is that they make life more enjoyable. Good friends, family, and co-workers make life an overall more fun and pleasant experience – we like spending time with these people and we often share positive moments (such as funny stories, jokes, and banter) with them on a frequent basis. It’s important to have friends you can spend time with when you’re just trying to relax and unwind after a long week, even if it’s just going to a local restaurant, or watching a movie, or going to a sports game together.
  • Role models and mentors: If you want to make the most of your positive relationships, it’s smart to surround yourself with people who are more intelligent, skilled, or successful than you, especially in areas of life you want to improve. Role models, mentors, and coaches can all play a huge role in bringing out your best self. If you want to take your exercise routine to the next level, get a trainer. If you want to become a better writer, reach out to professional authors for advice. Be willing to become a student, mentor, and peer, as we often learn best when we interact with people from all skill levels.
  • Meaning and purpose: Positive relationships are often the biggest source of a more meaningful life. Feeling a “sense of belonging” is a deep psychological need that stems from our biological drive to be a part of a coherent tribe or group. Unfortunately, in today’s world there’s been a disintegration of the community, and most people feel isolated and alienated even when they live in areas surrounded by people. Now more than ever, it’s important to find a tight-knit social circle (a family or strong group of friends) that we can call “home.” We all need to find our place in this world, and that is often defined by the relationships we build.
  • Help during a crisis: Tragedies and catastrophes bring people together – and they are often when we most depend on support from others. This can include a wide-range of different crises, including aid during natural disasters, assistance when going through serious health problems, or financial support during tough times (including fundraising and donations from others). One good way to assess the value of your current social circle is to ask yourself, “Do I have people who would take care of me if I ended up in a worst case scenario?” Take a moment to consider the zombie apocalypse thought experiment: would you be able to work together with your family and friends to survive?
  • Creating a better world: The relationships we build have a much broader influence than just ourselves and our immediate social circle. They also influence people whom we may never know exist. When you treat people with love and kindness, that can have a ripple effect on others in your environment. Research shows that when someone is the recipient of a good deed, they are more likely to perform another good deed for someone else. Our actions are part of a much larger chain of events that influence society as a whole, so building more positive relationships isn’t just a benefit to yourself but also the world at large.

By now it should be clear that the relationships we build in life can make a big difference to our overall happiness and success. It is very difficult to achieve your full potential all by yourself – we are built to connect and grow together.

One positive relationship doesn’t have to fulfill all the benefits mentioned above. Instead, you may have certain family and friends that satisfy different needs.

Perhaps you have one friend who is your “go to” when you’re feeling down and need to vent, while another friend is your “go to” when you just want to have fun and joke around.

All types of friends are important for our personal growth.

One thing to be mindful of in today’s world is parasocial relationships, where we feel a one-sided connection with personalities on TV, movies, or podcasts. These relationships can often mimic the feeling of friendship and connection, even though the person has no idea that we even exist.

It’s important we seek out real connections with people. This can include both online and offline relationships, as long as there is a genuine “back and forth” communication between both parties.

Take a moment to reflect on your current social circle – is it working for you or against you? Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it – it’s a strength, not a weakness.


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