A client recently told me that she had recommended her sister to come and see me and that she had told her that I was “very good at holding the space.”
Have you heard of this expression before?
It’s a term used by practitioners to describe what we ideally do for the client. We hold the space.
It basically refers to providing a space for someone that allows them to be open, honest and vulnerable without being worried about how that is going to affect the practitioner or that they may be judged for how they are feeling or what they are sharing. I personally would add that the only way to successfully hold the space for another is to not see them as a victim.
So why am I sharing this with you?
Well when another client recently shared “I always feel so much better talking to you than just talking to my friends.” I thought well that’s partly because I am very experienced at what I do but partly it’s because I’m holding the space. And it made me realise that everyone could benefit from learning to hold the space, for ourselves and for each other.
Do you know that most people when they begin to cry in the presence of someone, even in a session, will say ‘I’m sorry.’ Why are we sorry when we cry? Because we have been taught to not upset other people. We have been taught to ensure that we don’t make people uncomfortable. And people are never more uncomfortable then when faced with the ‘bad’ emotions. You know the ones… sadness, grief, anger, jealousy, fear.
Let’s become comfortable with allowing people to express their discomfort.
Let’s honour it. Respect it. Give it space and let’s not give into the ego driven desire to fix it and make everything ok as quickly as possible. Nothing can be ok, nothing can be ‘fixed’ until it’s felt.
When you are given the privileged opportunity to be with someone in their pain here’s what to do…
Nothing heals in the presence of judgement in fact it ensures that the emotions and thoughts being experienced go underground. They will either bury in the body or somewhere in the mind. To avoid this remind yourself that you don’t need to understand the person’s pain nor their reaction. It’s not your thing to get. It doesn’t matter how the experience would affect you it matters, right now, in this moment, how it is effecting them.
*Avoid seeing the person as a victim.
It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of a story. The injustice that someone feels or the disrespect that they determine to have been on the receiving end of is real, for them. So respect that this is how they feel, right now. Remember in order to heal it must be acknowledged. However, for you to get caught in it, and to see them as a victim is to fail to see them as who they really are.
Stay grounded and connected while they are spiralling and on a possible roller coaster of emotions. Continue to see them in their highest power. Continue to hold them in high regard. Know that they have the ability to move through this.
How do you convey this to them?
Do you remind them of it while they are fully in the pain? Not necessarily. Not if it invalidates their current experience.
You remind them of it by how you see them. When they look into your eyes make sure they see love looking back at them. Not pity. Not harshness. Just love. This will instantly make them feel better without the need to justify or defend how they are feeling. If you try to move them out of where they are too quickly their ego will dig its heels in and they will now feel the need to go on the defensive against you. By seeing them with love and knowing that they have the ability to move through this and return to a place of thriving, if they so choose, you are truly holding a space of very high vibration. A space where true healing and transformation can occur. And you will both benefit from the experience.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember to hold the space for yourself.
Listen to your emotions, allow your reactions. Don’t judge. Respect where you are. But keep a part of you conscious and connected to your right mind. The more of you that stays conscious the quicker you can move through the experience and get to the awareness part. That’s the good bit that comes out of the pain. That’s the gift from the pain.
How long does it take to go from the pain to the gift?
It takes as long as it takes.