There is an art to holding space. We explore the active listening, compassion, and kindness in allowing people to feel safe, heard and held amid vulnerability.
You may have heard the term “holding space” and thought it was only something done in a yoga studio or even in a counselling session. Yet this compassionate gesture you can do anytime and anywhere. Doing so can lead to deep connections and relationships with others, helping both parties feel more at ease with vulnerabilities.
Holding the space for someone involves being there for them by being fully present, offering empathy, kindness and perhaps even a shoulder to cry on. It means not rushing to fix the situation, cast judgement or offer well-meaning (but perhaps misguided) clichés.
Holding space means letting them have the platform to speak freely, to have a voice and to feel heard. It involves a conscious and deliberate choice to put aside our agenda – the need for our specific outcome and the desire to advise “fix” a person of their situation.
How do we hold the space for others?
1. Act with compassion
Compassion is what helps us authentically connect with and support others. When compassion is activated it inhibits the fear circuits in our brain which allows us to turn towards a person pain and suffering instead of away from it.
2. Move away from our judgement
It is part of being human is to judge. However, to hold a safe present space you need to quiet the noise. It is about moving your judgment to one side one the person is speaking. Casting judgment turns the focus away from the person who is confiding in us and becomes more about who we are and what we believe. Holding space for someone’s means focusing on them rather than ourselves.
Also, remember that you are viewing someone’s else's experience through your unique lens or view of the world. What seems like the best course of action or correct thing to do from your perspective is not necessary going to be the way forward for them no matter how right it feels for you.
3. Listen and taking a pause
There is more to listening then simple hearing. It is about listening without formatting your reply in your head at the same time. Doing this means you will miss out on information and causes that the speaker is giving as you will be distracted by your thoughts. By pausing and listening to the words they say can help you be fully present. You must learn how to be comfortable with some level of silence or pause in between speaking is so important. We do not need to respond with wisdom or “the right thing”.
4. Thoughtful responses
- I hear you
- Would you like to tell me more about it?
- I want to understand what that is like for you- would you like to tell me?
- I don’t have any answers for you but just know I am with you in this uncertainty
But being there with no words at all is the most powerful thing you can do for someone that needs you. The power of a hug, eye contact and a place for them to unpack is everything.
The next time someone comes to you for a shoulder to cry on, practice holding space for them. Practise it often and you’’ gain deeper connections and an unbreakable bond with those around you.
Let your inner beauty shine