No man is an island. And especially emotionally, no one is self-sufficient. Everyone needs everyone in some way or the other. Human interaction and connection keep economies running. But even more, they keep our emotional sanity in place.
Even the quietest among us have a lot of words to say and emotions to express. Feelings experienced deserve to eventually be poured out. Either to a friend, a family member, or just anyone you trust. But unfortunately, far too many of us choose to hide our emotions and bottle everything up until it’s too late.
Here’s where being a part of a peer support group helps. It’s basically a group of people who share difficult experiences helping and supporting each other. The group doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal one. It could even be just a group of your friends who take time to be there for each other.
The benefits of participating in such groups are never-ending. But I’ve narrowed down five good reasons to be a part of one:
A judgment-free environment
The biggest barrier for most people facing personal struggles is the fear of being judged, shamed, or ridiculed for sharing them. In a peer support group, it’s implied that there’s no room for judging anyone or their experiences. Every such group is meant to be an emotionally safe space, where people can speak about their experiences freely. Also, assuming or giving undue advice is always frowned upon in such communities, so it’s the best place to share your story.
You’ll understand your feelings better
The more you talk about your emotions, the more you’ll learn about it. Talking about your experiences with a peer leads to them asking questions to further understand your story. This makes you think more about how you feel, thus letting you understand your feelings better. Also, it helps you process your emotions, and begin helping yourself out of your present circumstance.
Better social skills
The more you talk with people, the more your social skills improve. Having mental health issues and facing emotional struggles can negatively affect our ability to communicate. It’s easy to feel like breaking ties with friends and family too when things aren’t right. But, when you’re a part of a peer support group, you’re allowed to speak freely, and that gives you a chance to develop confidence.
Learn from people who’ve faced your struggles
In a peer support group, you’re very likely to come across people who’ve been through the same experience you’re facing presently. That’s an advantage for you, for it lets you know that they understand how you must be feeling, and that makes you feel less alone.
It also gives you an idea about things you may not have considered while coping with your present scenario, and that will help you deal with it better.
A chance to give back
Peer support is all about being there for each other at all times. And in such groups, you’ll find yourself consoling and helping others. This is your chance to give back to the group and be there for your peers who’ve been there for you.
If a member of the group reaches out to you, listen to their story, and empathize with them. Let them know that while you may not have all the answers, you can always be there for them as they figure things out.
Being a part of an emotional support network gives you the chance to not only share your struggles but also be there for others. You get to express yourself to a community that values empathy, kindness, and trust. And most of all, you get to grow with them and exchange comfort and inspiration.
So find that peer support group you deserve and pop that bottle of emotions open!