Meeting people exactly where they are in life. How are you at this skill? Don’t blow it off like it’s a no big deal thing. The ability to accept and share space with someone in a neutral non-judgmental fashion is a monumental trait. It speaks volumes about your emotional health and maturity. It’s next level human.
I guess I think perhaps some people are born innately understanding the concept of holding space. I was not one of those people. Quite the opposite. My love and concern would run amuck and I would become frustrated and exasperated and totally unable to accept a person’s current status. I would create an emotional wedge in my relationships with others because I didn’t understand that I could not love or fix someone out of their space. As if I am some guru on living life “the right way”?!
Yet, I have been protected by those who have continuously held space and accepted me. I have been gifted with the support of many souls being there for me. I am so grateful for that. Despite my obnoxious codependent behaviors and ignorance I was supported. People held space for me.
Somehow, someway- I don’t know exactly when or where. Perhaps seeded and sowed it grows and flourishes much like any other skills I have nurtured. In the process of my transformation my mindset shifted. My concept of being there for others evolved. I recognized the separateness of myself in relation to others. I awoke to the fact that I couldn’t bully or tough-love coerce anyone. Nor should I want to. Who am I to attempt to alter another’s journey and lessons to be acquired?
I guess this revelation has been part of my journey too. Holding space is still work for me. It doesn’t come naturally quite yet. I am required to pause, restrain, and ponder. To not immediately deluge with my opinions, advice and plan of attack. To take the time to listen. Genuinely listen. Because that person will cue me to their needs if I can quiet my own inner chatter and hear them. If I can truly meet them where they are.
I feel that is one of the greatest gifts we can give another human being. To demonstrate with our presence the solidarity, support, acceptance and love they need.
My inner turmoil with the concept of holding space comes in the details I concoct. For instance:
- Does holding space mean condoning unsafe or unhealthy choices?
- If I say and do nothing does my inaction presume complicity?
- Does it mean that I cannot maintain my own healthy boundaries?
- Am I being fake?
- Is that being a good support?
- Is that enough?
These are the thoughts that dupe me.
The concept of being open for another person does not need to be so complex and twisted. In the most basic form of holding space for another I just think of turning my life nonsense off for a bit and allowing another to have the room for their life stuff. To air it out. Let it breathe. That does not mean that they or their stuff now becomes mine. Nope, that’s not part of it. We just air it out into the universe, together. I do not impose myself on them, nor do I take on their stuff. My goal is to show neutral empathetic reinforcement.
Back in my days of supervising Occupational Therapy interns I would tell each of them in my beginning spiel. “When you come here- for this 8 hours. It is no longer about you. I don’t care what is going on in your life. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. But you put your shit on the back-burner while you are here. Because these people are sick and hurting and going through some big life altering shit. Part of your job is to be here for them. Not the other way around.”
Maybe I was next level human before I recognized it?!
What are your thoughts on holding space? Can you do it? Is this something you’re comfortable practicing? What does holding space look like to you?