What it means to “hold space” and how to do it for others.

  Venice / Art by @isabellegorilla

Venice / Art by @isabellegorilla

In the past few weeks, I had a lot of friends call me in need of advice, venting and sympathy from dealing with deaths, break-ups and major changes in career. As much as this is such an exciting time dealing with endings and beginnings, it’s an intense time! We are all going through this shift and some are releasing more than others. How do we get through these times? We call our friends and family and subconsciously need someone to “hold space” for us.


What does it mean to “hold space” for someone?

It means you are listening to someone’s journey as you step into someone’s space. You do not judge them or their journey. You can offer advice to support a healthy outlook, as well as be an empathetic ear. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offering unconditional support and letting go of judgement and control. To support people in their path of growth, transformation, grief or expansion, we must make sure we aren’t shaming them or overwhelming them with guilt or too much information. We have to be prepared to step aside so that they can make their own choices, while offering them unconditional love and support, and giving gentle guidance when it is needed or when they ask. It is so important to make others feel safe even when they make mistakes. We are all human and we must make mistakes in order to grow and overcome our blocks in life.

Here is guidance for holding space-

It is important to allow others to trust their intuition and inner wisdom. We all have the answers inside us and we second guess or question ourselves; that is why we ask for support or guidance from others.

Give people only enough information as them can handle. Too much information can have us feeling incompetent and unworthy, or that we need to be perfect.

Keep your ego out of it. We all go through this from taking sides or acting like we know all. To truly support their growth, we need to keep our ego out of it and create the space where they have the opportunity to grow and learn.

Make them feel safe enough to fail. When people are learning, growing, or going through grief or transition, they are bound to make some mistakes along the way. When we, as their space holders, withhold judgement and shame, we offer them the opportunity to reach inside themselves to find the courage to take risks and the resilience to keep going even when they fail. When we let them know that failure is simply a part of the journey and not the end of the world, they’ll spend less time beating themselves up for it and more time learning from their mistakes.

Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would. Holding space is about respecting each person’s differences and recognising that these differences may lead to them making choices that we would not make. Sometimes, for example, they make choices based on cultural norms that we can’t understand from within our own experience. When we hold space, we release control and we honour differences.

Don’t worry – some of us are better at holding space than others. It’s a skill that we can practice. Being a space-holder you don’t have to be a teacher, guru, mother or a theraipst, you learn to be you at your most open and caring. It’s a beautiful thing to allow yourself to step into this role.


insights from- http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/
[photo taken by me in an alley in Venice / Art by @isabellegorilla]