I was talking with a colleague the other day, and the conversation steered into the topic of holding space for others. We were discussing our roles as helping professionals, and how sometimes we have to hold space for others. Now you might be thinking, “holding space, what does that mean exactly?”. Well, I am glad you asked, because this is one of my most favorite things to talk about!
Holding space. There is not one definition that would help explain this concept. Holding space for others is providing a compassionate, safe, and empathetic space for others to come to you. It is not something you can force, in fact, it is the opposite. It is you waiting for others to come to you. It is keeping the door always open. Holding space is a way for you to let others know you’re there for them. It is a way for you to show and provide your support.
There is a good chance that you have done this for several people (or are currently doing it). There often times is not a big indicator when you’re holding space for someone. It is probably overlooked by many, and possibly by you when you’re doing it. However, it is one of the most beneficial ways to provide support to someone. It is an open-ended invitation for them to come to you when they need it.
Here are some tips on how to hold space for those in need:
One of the hardest parts about this type of support is the waiting. What if they never come to you? What if it doesn’t work out like I said above? There is no guarantee when you provide support to someone. You cannot control others behaviors or responses or reactions. You can only control yourself. So yes, sometimes it may not work out, but I encourage you to keep trying and to keep that door open. It could provide lasting benefits to someone.