Day 71: Holding Space

For a long time I have been really confused about the concept of holding space.

Space, space for emotions, space to process, space to just be.

What the fuck does that even mean?

I don’t love all of the terminology that makes up the therapy and coaching world. It all feels so scripted to me, and in that way, not super authentic.

So what is holding space?

It basically means just being present with someone, not judging them or trying to change the emotions and feeling that are coming up, but just sitting with them and allowing them to show up how they need to.

This is really hard for people to do. In fact, if you have someone in your life that will do this, hold on to them for dear life. I’ve met one person who has been able to really effectively do this for me. Everyone else that has tried either puts their own experience into the conversation and gives advice, or tries to change the emotions. When I am mad, I want and need to be mad, I don’t need someone to cheer me up! It is really hard to hold space for people if there isn’t mindfulness and presence. Sometimes this means knowing when to keep your mouth shut and just let people talk. It is a huge gift that you can give to someone, to just show up and listen.

The concept of holding space for someone, truly doing this, is that each person is capable of discovering their own path and their own needs. It is a place for them to process events and come up with whatever next steps they need to.

The thing about holding space for someone is being confident and secure enough in yourself to just let them say what they need to. This is much easier for me to do with a stranger than it is with someone I am intimately connected to. Those intimate connections, while I may listen, I still take in what’s being said and try to figure out how to fix things. This is one of the hardest things that we can do with our partners and friends, but also one of the most rewarding. When someone knows that you are listening, without judging or distraction, it opens up this whole arena for vulnerability, trust and compassion that may otherwise be lacking.

I challenge you to try it this week. The next time a friend comes to you to chat, just let them talk. Listen actively. Don’t worry about how you will respond or how you can help them. Listen, repeat back what they said, drop in some support and let them have their own emotional experience. I guarantee, people will love you for it.

There is nothing as loving as a friend who just listens. ❤ ❤

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