I consider myself empathetic and a good listener, but is that holding the space?
I think it takes self-awareness and self-belief before we can hold the space for someone else. It means genuinely listening without judging (and that is a hard one in itself as so often our judgement stems from our own pain) it means listening without trying to fix…. and for me that is another hard one as sometimes I forget in my enthusiasm that what has worked for me doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for someone else.
I also struggle when listening to someone who has gone through what I have. Be it having a son who has a drug issue ( here I feel guilty because I do not think I dealt with that one very well) to someone with breast cancer to having a very sick grandchild to losing a parent or a spouse. I want to take there pain away. But I know from my own experience that does not help. I have had to and am still having to work through my own pain and need to remember what helps me is not necessarily going to help them.
Julian often ( not always!) held the space for me, but I’m not sure I held the space for him. To be fair, we were both opinionated and passionate about what we believed in and when you love someone, you want them to experience what you are experiencing.
I am beginning to understand that to truly support someone; I have to let them make their own choices, offer unconditional support, and love and step in when asked. Encourage them to listen to their own intuition as this is where true wisdom is found. Respect their decisions even if it is different to mine. Be curious but not so much so that I come across nosy. Respect their decision even if it is different from mine. Empower as people need to make their own decisions and yet be ready to step in when asked
Whilst writing this I have been reflecting on my various journeys and want to give a shout out here to my Minister at church. I am not religious in the conventional sense. He bless him has been there for me and listened to me quietly and silently. He gave his opinion when asked and I never felt judged. He asked questions when appropriate and didn’t take offence when I changed the subject.
So holding the space is I believe all the above.
Heather Lett wrote ’It is giving someone the space to reach inside of themselves to find the courage to take risks….’