When someone we care about is going through a tough time, we naturally want to offer our help. Often we do this by telling the person what we think they should do, or think of ways we can solve their problem for them.
This is not always the best way. Sometimes when someone you care about is going through a tough time, they just need someone to listen and a shoulder to lean on.
To support someone through a crisis or transition in a positive way, you can “hold space” for them.
What does this mean? It means that you walk alongside them on their journey without judgment, without making them feel inadequate, without trying to fix them, or without attempting to impact the outcome. You simply open your heart, walk alongside them, and let go of control.
No matter our age, it is human nature to want to fix, give advice, judge, help or even take on our loved one’s burden or pain. To truly support someone in their growth and transformation, you can’t take the experience away from them.
As a “space holder” you commit to being there for them, all while allowing them to find their own power by making their own choices. You offer unconditional love and support, and help them feel safe, even when they are confused or make a mistake.
“Space holding” is something we all need. No matter how strong you are as a leader, supporter or caregiver, you need to know that there is someone in your life with whom you can be vulnerable without fear of being judged.
I “hold space” for others daily, and I’m blessed with a few special people in my life who consistently “hold space” for me. It’s impossible to be a strong “space holder” for others unless we have people who do the same for us.
To “hold space” for someone, here are some points to follow:
1. Remember that it’s not about you. Keep your ego, opinions and judgments out of it.
2. Let them make the decisions they feel are best. Don’t take their power away.
3. Encourage them to trust their own wisdom and intuition.
4. Don’t give them more information than they can handle at the moment. This will only make them feel inadequate and insecure.
5. Allow for complex emotions to emerge without feeling you need to solve them. Just listen.
6. Make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.
7. Respect their choices by allowing them to have a different experience than you might want them to have.
Finally, “holding space” for another does not mean that you drain your personal energy reserves and life force. As a “space holder” you must consistently maintain your energy boundaries, while gently supporting others in rejuvenating theirs.
I’ve come to understand that “holding space” is a practice that evolves from intention — and you get better as you do it.
This is something that we all can do for one another during times of challenge.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.