Ever since I came back from Costa Rica, I’ve been saying a phrase that most people don’t quite understand: “Thank you for holding the space for me”.
What does it mean to hold space?
Imagine someone you know is going through a difficult time. Nowadays it’s not too hard to find. Imagine holding their hand as they share with you their hardship. As they share their story, as they share their life with you, you hold their hand, you hold their emotions drifting in the air, you hold the space around them, around yourself, and everything in between. We don’t need to physically hold their hand. But we can still hold the space, just by being there, by being present and by listening.
The thing is, my lovely friends, we don’t need to experience heartbreak or a life crisis to have our space be held. We don’t need our lives to be torn apart or broken, to have someone listen.
From what I observed, most people accumulate their pain, stress, sadness, confusion, etc. They keep it bottled up inside. And with each new day, more stress is added into their cup, until one day, it overflows. There are so many ways we can empty out our cups. One way is meditation, another is exercise. But one way, that is not so common, but oh, so powerful, is to share.
Sharing what’s going on in your life. Sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your challenges and hardships. That’s the other side of the space coin. One side shares, the other holds.
I will hold the frame while you paint. I’ll hold the punching bag while you explore the strength of your uppercut. I’ll hold the space while you explore your own mind out loud.
Have you ever noticed after speaking with a friend and venting about all of life’s difficulties, that you suddenly felt better? Was it because you chatted with a friend? Maybe!
But, in my opinion, it’s more sophisticated than that. You voiced your thoughts out loud, and more importantly, you heard yourself speak them. Once they’re out, the room they took up inside is now vacated and can be replaced with new things. When you don’t express yourself, when you hold everything inside, when you don’t empty out those thoughts, those feelings, those energy pockets, your cup will inevitably overflow.
Many people don’t like to share their feelings, or what’s going on for them in their lives. The most common reasons why are because they are afraid of being judged, being misunderstood, or, surprisingly, being fixed. Sometimes, we don’t want to hear what we need to do to fix our lives. Sometimes, we just need to let out the trash. Sometimes, we just need our space to be held. End. Of. Story.
So here is an exercise I learned while I was deep in my inner journey. Choose someone you trust. Someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with. Explain this concept to them, or give them this article to read for themselves. Sit in front of each other and take a deep breath to ground and center yourselves. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes (however much you feel you need to share). And take turns holding space for each other. One person shares their moment. By that I mean, this exact moment. What are you experiencing presently. Not how you feel about certain things, or how you wish things were, but how are you feeling right now. The other holds the space with no judgement, without giving advice, in fact, with no response at all, except “Thank you for your sharing” and “Thank you for holding space for me”.