This is the missing ingredient to most support groups

by Heather Thatcher

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It used to be that if you wanted to join a support group, you had to look to community centers, YMCA’s, churches, or libraries. You had to find a physical place where people would get together to support one another in their struggles.

It’s a lot easier now, and you don’t even have to leave your couch!

Facebook, other online forums and social media platforms have made it so much easier to access support. It’s easy to find a group of people who have had similar experiences and who are struggling with the same issues that you are.

All you have to do is log onto the app and type whatever you want into the search bar, and right there, you will have a few choices for which group to join.

Getting support and understanding from people who genuinely get you can be so healing. These online groups give us somewhere to feel heard, validate our feelings, and let us know that we’re not alone.

But, a lot of these groups are missing one crucial ingredient for creating a truly positive, healing space.

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Part of being human is to struggle and overcome.

But, when you think about it, most of these groups have us staying caught in the struggle. Have you noticed that?

A lot of Facebook support groups for chronic illness, or mother’s groups, or others stay stuck in ruminating on all the negative things that are happening.

It’s not anyone’s fault, though. 

Talking about your struggles, and how you’re feeling and how everything is impacting your life is a vital part of the healing process. We can’t hang on to all of that energy and emotion.

We have to allow ourselves to experience it and process it BEFORE we have any chance of being able to let it go and rise above it.

The problem – or the situation that creates a problem, I should say – with these online forums and Facebook Groups, though, is that new members are joining all the time.

Not that more people supporting one another through troubled times is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I am all for communities coming together to help each other rise above their circumstances.

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It’s easy for the group to remain in this initial stage of focusing on the negative by venting and talking about the struggles when new people are joining every day.

Everyone is staying stuck on step one, even if they’ve already released the negativity and are ready to move on. But they can’t move on because the group is so focused on releasing the difficult emotions by looking for validation and confirmation that they’re not alone in this.

This is exactly what one of my client’s Sarah was experiencing when she and I first started working together. 

Sarah had a painful past, with trauma, abuse, and a long history of low self-esteem. All of these things led her to attract unhealthy relationships and friendships, but she didn’t feel that she deserved anything better. 

Sarah wanted to change her life, to have healthy boundaries and relationships that were supportive and kind – rather than relying on her generous nature.

One time I came over to her eating cat-food because she had spent all of her money on feeding and supporting her friends. At the end of the month, she had nothing left for herself.

It broke my heart.

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Sarah had been to so many support groups for victims of trauma and abuse that she’d lost count. And although it was helpful for her to know that others understood what she was going through, nothing was changing for her. 

She still felt unworthy of being happy. She didn’t know how to say no to friends because she wanted to be there for them, and she didn’t know how to prioritize herself to take better care of her health.

After we talked, Sarah realized that it was that these online support groups were keeping her stuck in her current patterns. They kept the focus on what she wanted to change rather than looking to who she wanted to be and how she wanted her life to look.

The Mindset Reboot framework gave Sarah the tools and strategies that she needed to break this cycle of negative self-talk and low self-worth and step into her feminine power.

 

Here’s what Sarah had to say when she finished the Mindset Reboot Program:

 “I can’t even begin to tell you how much you’ve changed my life. I love and respect myself enough to stand up for myself. Those friends we talked about who weren’t really friends (just used me), they’re gone, and the people in my life now actually care about me, and I can tell the difference! All of my relationships have changed for the better. I finally feel like me again. Happy, healthy, and free.” 

Sarah noticed that when she moved beyond that initial stage of processing her struggles and broke unhelpful thought patterns, other things started to shift in her life.

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After a few weeks, Sarah was automatically seeking healthy coping strategies to manage her stress like going for a walk or meditating, rather than falling back on emotional eating and binge-watching some Netflix series.

She felt less frazzled all the time and found that there was more than enough time in her day to do the things that were most important to her. 

She found more joy in her work and started to become a more active employee at work, encouraging others and seeking out opportunities to advance in her career. 

Instead of hoping that people would notice her for her hard work, Sarah spoke up. She started to share her ideas, where she used to stay quiet or only share her opinion with her close work colleagues. 

It had been several years since she had been given a raise. When she assertively brought this to the attention of her supervisors, using a scripting template from the Mindset Reboot Program,  she was surprised how quickly they gave it to her!

All because she broke free from staying stuck on step-one by remaining in support groups that didn’t offer tools and strategies to break the emotional cycles and patterns.

That, my friends, is what most support groups are missing.

So many support groups are missing the facilitation, the program, the strategies, the step-by-step instructions to move you past the validation and venting stage.

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Remember, this first step is important though because you can’t move on without letting it out and having people meet you where you are.

But when you’re ready to move on…

When you’ve had enough with talking about where you don’t want to be anymore, and you’re ready to move forward…

That’s when it’s time to seek out how to stop living in the same patterns that are creating the life that you’re living right now.

Our thoughts create emotions that create behaviours which then creates the life that we’re living.

So if you want to change your life, if you want to create a new lifestyle or change something about your life – you have to start by changing how you think.

This is something that we cover in-depth in my Mindset Reboot program and the doors for this program are going to be opening really soon. In preparation of this, I’m going to be hosting a free 5-day challenge that tackles this mindset work at the source – your inner critic.

Over the 5-days I’m going to share with you the exact same steps you’re going to use in the Mindset Reboot program to take back control from your Inner Critic and silence them. Everyone who goes through these exercises and applies them notices an almost immediate change in their self-talk. I get it, I know you’re busy, so the video for each day of the challenge is 5 minutes or less, and there is a downloadable audio version as well. Plus, the homework step for each day will take 15 minutes max. So you just need 20 minutes out of your day – I know you have 20 minutes. Maybe not all at once, but you definitely have 20 minutes.

I hold nothing back and you can join this challenge for free. We get started June 15, 2020. And if you’re listening to this episode at a later time, don’t worry. I run these challenges twice a year, so the next one won’t be too far away! 

Your action step for today is to go to heatherthatcher.com/innercritic to sign up for the free challenge. What do you have to lose except the negative impact of your Inner Critic keeping you stuck?

See you there.

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