What does it mean to “hold space,” and why has it become such a buzz word?
Holding space is creating an environment with your own presence for someone to feel safe enough to be vulnerable and share their process–whatever this looks like. It is a privilege to hold space, as the person you are witnessing is trusting you to see an internal world that they may not feel is pretty. You don’t have to agree, just listen and show that you see them. What powerful medicine when someone just sees us and doesn’t try to fix.
Tips on how to hold space:
Be in an area that preferably has little to no distraction, easy to hear one another without straining, and with only those people present with whom the sharer wants to know their vulnerability. If the environment is too loud or distracting, the person may have trouble stringing their thoughts and words together, especially if they are under distress regarding the topic. If the person fear that undesired others may enter into, or listen in, then the person may not feel safe to disclose and want to keep it in.
2. FULL presence. Be in your own body and invite them to be in theirs.
Tune into your body’s reactions (my chest just tightened), so you can check your own transference of self onto them. Right now this is not about you, it’s about them.
Maintain softened eye contact, relaxed posture, and deep, slower, breathing to calm your internal world so you can be here for their’s.
3. Allowing for vulnerability
Humanness attracts humanness. Show up as your authentic self, owning your own experience not as a victim, not as a blamer, not as a placator, but as your human self with human needs and human contractions and human emotions. Humans struggle with allowing themselves to be human, yet when you give yourself permission to be one, you attract other humans in awe of your ability to do so in vulnerability. “Thank you for allowing yourself to be soft, to be human. I see now that I can be the same. And it is relieving.”
Surrender your need to control and force a specific outcome. Let go of trying to find or make the ‘perfect’ experience happen. Allow and be present to the current moment and all it encompasses. This is also not time for you to preach, put your values onto someone else, or decide that what they think, feel, believe is wrong. It’s their reality, and whether it’s productive or not, let them have it unless they ask for another perspective.
5. “What was that like for you?” “What’s coming up for you?”
Questions like this allow for someone to know you are truly there with and for them.
Validation does not mean you agree with your partner. What it DOES mean is that you are making a conscious effort to see and feel into their reality and how they experience the world. Validation is acknowledging one nugget of truth or their volunteered experience that you can point to. Example: I see that you’re angry; I can feel your disappointment; I did leave the door unlocked; It feels heavy; I seems like there’s no way out.
We all want to be seen, validation helps us to feel this way.
7. Hold space for yourself
If we have difficulty accepting ourselves, then we will have difficulty validating each other. If one partner has difficulty experiencing a sense of felt vulnerability, then the vulnerability of the other may not be accepted. Unresolved emotional pain, unprocessed past trauma/distressing events, tends to keep people self absorbed. Accessing and accepting one’s own pain decreases the level of self-involvement and leads to the acceptance of the other with subsequent true compassion. So in other words…do your self work, practice vulnerability, tune into what you need so you can be there for others and their needs.