When we hold space, we offer a gift. It’s one of the best gifts you can offer or receive.
Holding space is you being the container without judging what you contain. You are the glass but you’re not commenting on whether you are half full or half empty. You are the mixing bowl holding cookie dough or cat food equally well.
When we hold space, we show care, respect, and love.
Especially when someone we care about is going through something hard, what they want and need from us is our space holding. They want to know that they can have a hard time without it being hard on us. They want to know they can struggle and we still believe in them. They want room to hear their own answers even if they feel clueless.
They need to hear that we trust them to handle their own lives. “You don’t need me to fix or rescue you or live it for you. You are the best possible person to live your life. And I’m here.” That’s the message you send when you are with someone rather than fixing them.
When we give advice or jump in with our own fears, we hijack the conversation. We make it about us instead of giving the other person the space they need to be fully heard and to fully express themselves.
Holding space is a learned skill. It feels wonderful to receive it, to receive the listening attention of someone who is not going to take what you say personally. Having room to be whatever and however you are without fear of being judged, shamed, reacted to, or fixed is both freedom and love. You’ll learn this and more in Jerk-Proof Your Relationships.
I’d love to hear how the concept of holding space shows up in your life. Do you hold space for others? Do they hold space for you? When does holding space work and when does it fall apart? What happens when you max your capacity and you can no longer hold space without being angry, sad, or reactive?