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The Seven Pillars

Each of us can use a similar multi-faceted support system to help manage the obstacles we encounter along the path of our lives. What are these seven supports?  The seven general categories include:

  1. Family of Origin Pillar
    This support is comprised of relationships, both past and present, with parents, grandparents, and any other person that has been instrumental in our development.  Our internal stability is influenced by messages we have received about life, work and ourselves.

  2. Nuclear Family Pillar
    This pillar consists of the people with whom we live in the present such as spouses, partners, children, etc.

  3. Relational Network Pillar
    This system is very large and important.  It can be compared to a cross-section of a tree trunk in which every concentric ring represents a level of friendship or relationship.  The inner ring includes our closer friends that I like to call “our Friday night crowd”.  These are the people with whom we feel our most comfortable even after a long week at work.  The second ring is composed of friends with whom we feel close but more reserved.  Other friends and acquaintances are situated respectively on each of the subsequent rings according to depth and frequency of contact.

  4. Career/Work Pillar
    Work can support us financially and/or emotionally.  Having stability in our work environment is critical for us to survive financially; however, it is not always significant in helping us realize our vision and sense of meaning. For example, many artists fill this need through their art while “earning a living” doing some other work.  Meaning IS important in our lives but doesn’t always have to come from work for us to feel fulfilled.

  5. Hobbies and Outside-Activities Pillar
    Activities for which we have a passion are extremely important in order to develop our sense of personal identity.  They not only add diversion and fun to our lives but also increase our energy and self-esteem.

  6. Health & Well-being Pillar.  This pillar is divided into three smaller ones woven together to form one larger one:  our physical, psychological and spiritual components.  The way in which humans live in the world is influenced by their health in all three of these areas.  It is up to each of us to take care of ourselves in any means at our disposal to insure ourselves a healthy life.  Going to the gym, performing physical exercise, getting appropriate medical, psychological or spiritual care, meditating, eating, using prayer, having a healthy sexual life, etc. can all have positive effects upon our ability to function in the world.

  7. Internal Supervision Pillar
    This essential pillar is  responsible for calibrating and balancing the other six pillars making sure that they are strong and solid.  It is also important in helping to see ourselves from an external viewpoint.  We must be able to answer critical and difficult questions about ourselves, such as: “Would  I want to be the partner or spouse of this person?”, or “Would I be close friends with this person?” etc.  The Internal Supervision Pillar is one of the most difficult as we must really take a solid internal inventory of ourselves and our motives.

Obviously, the Seven Pillars are interconnected.  For example, a member of your friend network may also be a teammate on a sports team or a member of your book club.  In these situations, your interest in the activity may contribute to stabilizing two or three of your other pillars at the same time.  The important thing is to have a complete, rich, integrated life.