Holding Space

Published 15/07/2020

In all relationships, the biggest gift we can give each other is the opportunity to hold space for all they are, especially when they’re feeling not so perky.

Part of holding space is to make sure you don’t positive-paint their feelings, or blurt out flippant unhelpful comments and to not give into any awkwardness we feel – but to hold the space, no matter what and to really listen.

The gift of feeling wholly seen and heard is incredibly powerful – there’s nothing at all quite like it.

When those we care about go through tough times, we might feel helpless. We might find the depth of their despair so overwhelming that we fear saying the wrong thing, so we say nothing. Perhaps we’ve never been through anything like it and our words feel empty and unhelpful. Maybe we’ve never had space held for us before so we’re not entirely sure what it looks like. This is because we simply haven’t been taught how to do it, not because we are rubbish listeners or that we don’t care.

Holding space is caring about how someone really is – warts, wonky and messy snotty crying and everything in between. It’s about being patient enough to properly listen and present enough to actually hear what’s being said. It’s the encouraging with the knowing nods. It’s holding back on the trying to fix everything and instead, leaving room for the person to explore what they need and how they might get it. It’s not making it about you and all of the ways you’ve felt the same or similar. It’s about kindness, compassion, your time and encouragement. It’s definitely not about shaming, blaming or laying guilt. It’s about offering acceptance and non-judgement. It’s not waiting for the pause so you can say the thing you really want to say. It’s learning to really hear and respond to what’s been said. It’s not belittling nor diminishing – after all, the small things to you might be the big things to them. It’s not about knowing all the answers, it’s about really being there and holding the space, when someone is in need.

Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes it’s messy, cruel, unfair and exhausting. When we can love people as much in the rubbish times as we do when it’s all unicorns and butterflies, we not only make room for their vulnerability (and they’ll never ever forget it), but we make room for ours too. It’s an opportunity to support, to strengthen, to offer a light in the darkness. It’s also an opportunity to learn just how amazing you can be too.

Stay well x
Kim Fry
UKSA Welfare Officer