“Holding space” is a phrase I’ve heard used quite frequently within the past few months.
It’s something I kept telling myself I was going to learn more about, but for some reason, I just didn’t do my “research”. Finally, I took the time to really sit down and give my full attention to an article that one of my bosses, Cindy Fabico, sent to me; and after reading it, I’m glad that I did.
So, first and foremost, how do we explain the concept of holding space for someone?
Heather Plett, the author of What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone, describes it in her article …
It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
So, it seems as if the true essence of holding space for someone, is being there for someone when they need you, but not to impose your “help” on them. It’s a very humanistic approach to interacting with and connecting with others. It is not your job to fix that person, or try to point out what they are doing wrong, or not “fast enough” for your liking. In fact, the whole idea is the very opposite. By holding space for someone, you are loving them for all that they are, and loving them unconditionally because of all that they are. You are seeing them as a whole person, instead of a person broken down by flaws, and places where they have room for improvement.
Holding space for someone sounds like it can be a very challenging approach to master. It is far too frequent of an occurrence for us to see a person, or situation, and dissect it and think, “
this is how I would handle it“. But, the truth of the matter is, other people’s feelings, situations, and “imperfections” are not ours to “fix”. The best thing we can do for another person is to be someone they can lean on, and let them go through their own motions- heal on their own time, and make their own decisions. It is when we allow others to grow on their own accord, that they can reach their most authentic self.
Think of a time when someone tried to change something about you, or something for you. I’m sure in a sense you were happy, because it felt as if someone cared enough to take control; but, maybe another part of you felt suffocated, or as if you had your own ideas about how to approach a situation and that you did not have the freedom to express it.
Holding space for someone allows that person to grow confidence in his/her self, and into their personhood/ indepedence.
To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away (ie. trying to fix their problems), shaming them (ie. implying that they should know more than they do), or overwhelming them (ie. giving them more information than they’re ready for). We have to be prepared to step to the side so that they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.
Heather Plett also listed 8 tips that she believes can help a person learn how to hold space for others, they are as follows:
1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
2. Give people only as much information as they can handle.
3. Don’t take away their power.
4. Keep your ego out of it.
5. Make them feel safe enough to fail.
6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc.
8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.
If you’re someone who thrives off of examples to really understand concepts, please click here for Heather’s full article! Though I have given a brief synopsis of the meaning of “holding space” for someone, to the best of my understanding, Heather uses a real-life experience she has had with this approach and is very open and honest about it.
Are you struggling with holding space for others, giving unconditional love or would like some guidance with not internalizing other people’s experiences, or are you just interested in talking to someone about things going on in your life because you simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.