People need to feel loved and accepted where they are now. Sometimes that place (now) feels uncomfortable, which is often what brings people into therapy. It may not be one particular issue that has brought a person to this particular juncture in life. Rather, it may be a culmination of events that leaves a person feeling frustrated, confused, or just plain stuck. I see my role as holding space for people where they are at that particular moment in time – without judgement, without pretext, without trying to “fix” the situation.
We are a culture that wants to fix. We give advice and offer support to help a person change either the situation or the self. There is little room for just being who or where we are. It is in our nature to want to move. We do not like feeling stuck and/or out of control. The thing I like about holding space is the idea that we can love our self in any given situation and learn to trust our own wisdom. It is the wisdom to trust that we will know what to do when the time comes.
It is helpful to be quiet, listen and notice what is happening during these moments. That may feel uncomfortable or unnatural, if we do not have a lot of experience being still. Our tendency is to want to control our emotions and manage our behaviour. And, while that may be part of the process eventually, it is not always helpful to start there. It reinforces that where we are at this point in time is wrong. If it is wrong, we will want to get away (desperately) and move forward. But, what are we moving towards? What good does it do to change my behaviour if I do not understand the path that has led me to now?
Imagine I am feeling angry and I want to stop feeling that way. So, I set a goal not to be angry. Then, inevitably, something happens and I feel angry. In addition to feeling angry in the situation, I am now also angry at myself for being angry. What if, rather than trying to control the angry feeling, I just observed it – quietly, with curiosity, without judgement.
Sometimes the emotion itself is not the problem, it is what we do when we feel it. Rather than lashing out (or overeating for me) when I am angry, what if I just allowed myself to feel angry in that moment – without judgement, without pretext, without trying to fix or control the situation or my reaction to it. Just observing the feeling and allowing it to be can move us away from judging the feeling or our self for having it.
Holding space for yourself means learning to love yourself right where you are in this moment regardless of circumstance. It is believing you are deserving of love, empathy, and acceptance. It is believing you matter. Holding space moves us from our heads (problem-solving) to our hearts (unconditional love). Imagine a world where each day, regardless of our own personal life circumstances, we all just showed up and loved one another. It would change the whole world.
“A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds space for you while you awaken your inner healer, so that you may heal yourself.” Maryam Hasnaa