According to John Kim, LMFT (The Angry Therapist)
Holding Space means, “[...] to be with someone without judgment. To donate your ears and heart without wanting anything back. To practice empathy and compassion. To accept someone's truth, no matter what they are. To allow and accept. Embrace with two hands instead of pointing with one finger. To come in neutral. Open. For them. Not you. Holding space means to put your needs and opinions aside and allow someone to just be. [Them.] Self” (Psychology Today).
🤔 So how do I DO that? 🤔
• Step 1: always respect boundaries and offer support when it is WILLING to be received.
You can ask:
“Can I make some space for you right now?”
“Would it feel good for me to listen right now?”
“I can make some space for you to talk and feel or whatever you need”
IF they say ‘YES’ continue....
IF they say ‘NO’ abort mission and GIVE them space with loving kindness from afar.
• Step 2: Make the space
1. Find somewhere SAFE to listen to them speak. Somewhere you both are comfortable, secure, and have no distractions. That means📱📴.
2. Offer comfort. The coziest seat, a blanket or stuffy to hold onto 🧸, snacks, 🫖 etc.
3. ⛔️ distractions...cannot say this enough.
• Step 3: LISTEN 👂
Your job now is to ACTIVELY listen. That means hearing everything they have to say and staying quiet. EVEN WHEN you can relate. EVEN WHEN you felt like sharing to show them you understand how they feel. EVEN WHEN the discomfort of their pain makes you uncomfy. EVEN WHEN they cry. Just listen.
• Step 4: Affirm their experience
When they ask or if there is a look that encourages response (remember watch for & listen to body language too) to affirm their experiences, you can say:
“I hear you.” “I see you.” “You’re experience is valid.” “You have every right to feel that way.” “You have permission to feel whatever you need to.”
Step 5: thank them for trusting you & ask consent to follow up with them or check in.
“Thank you so much for allowing me to share this space for you. Can I check in (or continue to) with you again?”
Holding space can be for loved ones, but it can also be something you do for yourself too.
It's ALWAYS a good idea to give yourself a chance to feel things. Holding space for yourself means allowing yourself to weep, scream, sit still in silence for long periods of time, take a nap instead of vacuum, go for a walk, spend time with friends when you need connection or retreat to your hole when it all feels too much. Holding space, really at its core, is just allowing for what emotional, physical, spiritual needs come through when we heal. Since it's all on a spectrum, sometimes we have to release the guilt or shame associated with healing the good and bad stuff.
How good does it feel when someone makes time to listen to you?