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Holding Space

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

This is probably not what you want to hear, but you have to get out of the way in order for your loved one to heal.

That can be really difficult for many people to understand, especially parents. Many of us (read: me!) want to jump in and ‘fix the situation’. Our intentions can be truly motivated out of love and concern, but when prescribing for another it can be more detrimental than helpful. Why? Well, because we need to honor another person’s space. We need to understand that just because something resonates for us (e.g., a book we found meaningful, or a therapist we think would be ‘helpful’) does not mean it will resonate or be helpful for our loved one.

We have to understand that they are their own person. We have to be aware that our egos will trick us into thinking we know what someone else wants or needs (that would be a superpower if true!). We think we know their life story and what’s best for them. And speaking as a mother, I know this can be a notion that is very difficult to let go of.

I have come to believe that one of the most important things you can do for your loved one is to “hold space.” That’s a psychological term I came across and the idea is very simple. When we hold space for our loved one, we walk alongside them in whatever journey they are on, without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or impact their outcome.

When I'm interacting with my daughter, I am constantly asking myself these questions:

  • Am I giving her the distance, respect, and space to support and encourage healing, growth, and transformation?

  • Am I giving her space to trust her own intuition and wisdom; giving her the confidence to believe in herself?

  • Am I giving her only as much information as she can handle? Or am I trying to influence her decisions and manage the outcome?

  • Do I make her feel safe enough to fail?

I'm constantly working to be better at holding space and sometimes it is really hard. That's why I wrote myself a little note that I carry in my phone case. When I find myself slipping back into my old habits and thought patterns of "I'm gonna do this/I know how to fix this," I pull it out, take a deep breath, and read it. I remind myself that I am here to share in her journey to an unknown destination and I'm doing it with respect, compassion, and most of all, love.

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