As a therapist and life coach, I’ve learned what it is to truly hold space for those who need it. We talk a lot about how it works and why it matters in this day and age, but I wanted to turn it over to some of the coaches who have gone through our JRNI Life Coaching Intensive over the years, to get their take on it. This is what they had to say.
- “Be radically present. When someone comes to you vulnerably with real pain, raw emotion, or even a seemingly small concern, don’t underestimate the power of your presence. Many people feel over-connected to digital things like notifications, emails, and calendar reminders, but disconnected in a human sense. Eye contact, verbal affirmations, and listening to hear (rather than listening to respond) may mean the world to someone.”
- “Holding space for me as a coach is to keep my mind clear, listen and totally be with my client without judgment. I’ve found in coaching to not need to coach, in that moment I’m just being with them, allowing.”
- “Holding space is an honor, and a deep act of loving kindness. Most people in this world need to feel heard, seen. Whether we are holding space for someone that’s just lost a loved one, or sitting in an audience of thousands listening to a speaker, our attentiveness is an act of kindness towards the person speaking. Sometimes, we might do the talking and verbal comforting. Other times, we simply need to listen in an engaged and loving manner. Regardless of who is talking, being present and grateful for the time to allow and enable the other person to be seen and heard, is very special. We have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally.”
- “Holding Space…it’s kind of funny if you think about that terminology literally. How in the hell does one hold space anyway? You awkwardly wrap your arms around the space that lies between two people sharing an interaction and try to give it a hug, hold it in place, juggle it? Well the truth is it can feel like quite an awkward interaction initially sitting down with a life coach. There’s the whole not knowing where to begin, what is she going to think of me, how am I going to share my deepest, darkest secrets with a total stranger stream of consciousness that might occur. And that’s okay. That’s what the space is for, you know the space I’m holding for you. Let those thoughts flow…the good, the bad, the ugly. I won’t judge you, and I’ll do my very best to help you not judge yourself either. As a Catalyst Coach with JRNI I believe we as humans should have the opportunity to actively invest in ourselves, our happiness, our passions, our future. The opportunity to do so is in this space, you know the space I”m holding for you. It’s safe and promising…and sometimes wildly uncomfortable, but also fluid and always changing so the discomfort is temporary. You will work hard in this space, but you will not be alone and the rewards are delicious. Empowerment at its finest and it’s all coming from you. What sets your soul on fire? Welcome to the space I’m holding for you, let’s find out!”
- “The way I hold space for others: I try to enter every conversation as though I have something to learn. There is such a thing called “communication narcissism” which is when we get into the habit of redirecting every response in a conversation to be about ourselves. Unfortunately, we’re all guilty of this on a regular basis! If I’m truly holding space for someone else, it’s also important to become fully aware that it’s not about me, it’s about them. I try to catch myself every time I respond with something about myself. Unless it’s something about my life that is adding value to the conversation, I try to replace that statement with a question and continue to see what I can learn from this person or conversation.”
- “I have found one of the ways to hold space, is to listen deeply to what is being requested. Do they want a conversation or do they want a hug and no conversation? Listen and give what is being asked and no more. It’s natural to want to solve a request. But, when holding space we don’t try to fix, we witness. My most recent experience holding space happened when a new friend made a request for some silent time together. We sat in silence for a few minutes and she felt held. It was a meaningful experience for both of us.”
- “In my work with seriously ill clients, I am so often in the position where holding space is just what they are yearning for yet so often it’s not found in their day to day life. They come to me typically with an assembly of “fixers” in their world. Whole medical teams and loved ones all with the expectation of solving problems, fixing broken areas and soothing sore spots. My role as a Life Coach is to be open and present in order for my clients to unload all the emotional weight they carry while healing. I do not fix anything, instead I give them the room to mend themselves.”
- “One great way to hold space for someone is to simply be in the space with them, offering your full presence. How do we do this? We come with an open heart, non judgement, loving kindness and compassion. We remain grounded, as this isn’t about us, but a sacred gift for them. We allow them to experience themselves exactly as they are, with full acceptance. We actively listen, offering them all of our attention, and thus, permission to fully be in the moment. Without the words, we say, I am here, I see you, I hear you, you are safe.”
- “One way to hold space for another is to actively listen in such a way that you engage with your body language by leaning in and facing towards the individual openly, making direct eye contact with them, and repeating back to them in the form of a question their own words so they know they are truly being seen, heard, felt, and known.”
- “Holding Space. It’s intangible, yet so big and small in one breadth. The space between you and me is that space just for you to be just what you need in the moment. It’s a place to sit, a place to vent, a place to process, a place to reflect, a place to forgive, a place to love, a place to laugh, a place to cry, a place to grow. No judgement. Your space.”
- “Sometimes the best thing you can do is show up, physically and mentally, for someone in your life. Take the time to make sure you are mindfully present and engaged with those you interact with. Put down the phone, stop worrying about your to-do list, and really listen to who is speaking. If you are listening to receive instead of listening to respond then you have shifted the focus from hearing input to holding space.”
- “Coming from a background in body work, we talk a lot about ‘holding space’, and so I get to practice this skill daily. Presence is a key element. I start every coaching session by walking myself and my client through a brief mindful ritual to bring us into presence. How do you get there? First: slow down, waaaaay down. Scan and feel into your body….pause. Notice your breath; let it be easy and full….pause. In slowness, it’s easier to be present. Slowing your breath and your mind allows all of you to be present: your body, your gaze, your senses, your energy and your attention. You are open and available for what the other person is saying (or not saying!). When someone connects with me with full-bodied presence, I feel seen, safe, and loved. It’s a powerful way to connect with another person, especially in our disconnected and fast-paced world.”
- Holding space requires our mindful presence while intentionally listening with no personal agenda of our own to provide advice (unless it is asked for), setting distractions aside and resisting the need to “fix” it for them. I believe that humans hold the answers they’re seeking within them and most of the time, all we need is for someone to listen with love, compassion and a desire to understand without judgment. We all have a desire to be seen, listened to and accepted exactly as we are in those moments of vulnerability and holding space for others requires the practice of intention as we listen, normalize the common humanity in us all as it relates to suffering and validate the person’s experience. It is about sitting with them through the dark and the light and offering the same amount of love and acceptance in both situations. It is about being present in that moment while intentionally holding space and witnessing the person.
- . “If you’ve ever had someone truly hold space for you, it feels like millions of people are walking with you. If I can’t be there with the person, I like to send them a package of simple things that can bring them comfort, laughter and words of support. Often in those moments when they are alone, sifting through a box of “things” is just what they need.”
- A way to hold space for others is to listen. Truly LISTEN…just for the sake of listening. Don’t listen to understand where they’re coming from. Don’t listen to form a response or give advice. Don’t listen to judge. Just listen to hold space. To provide a non-judgemental container for someone to express whatever is sitting on their spirit. Listen to allow someone to feel supported, loved, and heard. Listen to be there for someone when they need you the most.
- I believe each one of us has the capacity to create something magnificent. Holding space for someone,for me, would be to help them unleash their creativity. I am a creative mind and helping them create a safe space for themselves by uncovering some past joy, pulling from the cookie jar if you will. Helping release some spectacular idea they may have had about themselves or others then expounding on that, is what holding space might look like for me. We are the creators and the creation.
- The thing no one really tells you about holding space is that it’s actually hard AF. Being able to be both physically and psychologically still, when someone is speaking and often sharing their pain, is hard. It can also be triggering if you relate to what the person is communicating. Holding space is uncomfortable and you should give yourself credit for wanting to learn how to do so in the first place. That being said, the #1 thing you need to remember in order to effectively hold space for someone is to listen. Just.fucking.listen. Resist the urge to interject and add your (unasked for) opinion.
If you’re interested in becoming a coach or learning how to hold space for others, you can learn more about the JRNI Life Coaching Intensive here.