One idea that I developed a while ago is that of support levels.
I originally imagined the idea after a long arduous trip to a camping site.
There are 3 levels of support that I can envisage.
Level 1 is simply offering emotional support for a challenge you are facing. This can be as simple as just listening, and helping a person feel heard. Often someone who’s keen to help will skip past this level, and just switch straight to level 2, when really it’s about acknowledgment of the difficulty, rather than seeking a solution. In the camping situation this is someone listening to me rant about the difficulty of the journey to the campsite while I set up my tent.
Level 2 is active advice and suggestions. More than just listening to my problems, this is someone suggesting what they think is the best course of action for me to succeed at my current goal. In the camping situation, this would represent being given advice on how to construct my tent, potentially talking me through the process, suggesting what I should look for when picking where to setup and what to be wary of.
Level 3 is offering ownership (either partial or total) over a problem. I think this is a rarer form of support because it has a higher risk of either encouraging a sense of helplessness or being unwanted. I think it often fails to happen because the person who wants it hesitates to ask if someone will just do something for them, and the person who could do it doesn’t want to feel like they are imposing. I think level 3 is the easiest to go wrong. In this case level 3 would represent someone taking the tent out of my hands and just constructing my tent for me.
I’m hoping that with this model people will be better able to work out both what kind of support they need and what kind they feel comfortable offering.
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