Ripples #1264: Holding Space


Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.
-Wes Angelozzi, shared by Stacey in Sun Prairie, WI


What does it mean to hold space for another person? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control.
-Heather Blett, author of The Art of Holding Space


I’ll admit it, I’m a fixer.

When a friend shares an update that includes bummer news, I’m usually pretty good at starting with, “Oh that sucks…tell me more.” But inside, I’m all, “OK, what do we have to do to fix everything and also make sure it doesn’t happen again?”

There are times when this is what a friend wants. AND: there are lots and lots (and lots) of times when it isn’t what they want…there are even times when it is the exact opposite of what they want.

When someone opens up and shares something with you, the only thing you can know for sure in that moment is that someone has come to you and is trying to be heard. They are saying something they want you to hear, or perhaps they are just trying to say something out loud that has been simmering for a while on the inside. It’s possible that they are also wanting feedback, advice, suggestions, brainstorming or some other help. But since they may NOT want that, or they may not yet KNOW what they want, sometimes in these situations we “listeners turned helpers” are tending to our own needs: a need to be needed, a need to feel important, a need to notch a win, etc.

I’ve been working hard on trying to fix my fixing…and along the way I’ve discovered that holding space for others allows me to be a valued witness, a repository of important truths, and a trusted travel partner on a friend’s sacred journey. I still ask questions here and there, I try to follow the tips I picked up while listening to a podcast conversation with Parker Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal:

“No fixing. No saving. No advising. No correcting.”

The next time someone wants to share something with you, see if your ears and your heart can remain a little more open while your mouth remains a little more closed.


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