How To Hold Space For Yourself And Others

Holding space means that you are reserving your energy to be emotionally and mentally present for yourself or others in a safe, nonjudgemental environment.

What is Holding space?

If a friend would’ve told me before they were holding space for me, I would’ve thought I missed a social engagement to meet up for dinner and drinks. However, I have learned in the past few years what “holding space” for yourself and others can mean (other than holding a physical space for me in line at a local concert or the nearest coffee shop.)

You might have heard this term come up a lot more as more people are opening up about their spiritual journeys online. What we do know is that life comes at us like a whirlwind. Not giving ourselves or others space to check-in and express emotions can be the difference between experiencing a full-on crisis or not.

Holding space for yourself

For yourself, holding space can mean a lot of things. It is setting boundaries so that you can protect your peace. Setting aside time to tune into your needs and become more self-aware. It means that you are giving yourself space to be yourself fully without judgment. To listen to your mind and body and support yourself in the best way you can. Ways you could practice holding space for yourself could be:

    • Scheduling time in your regular routine to journal how you’re feeling
    • Setting reminders on your phone to periodically check in with your physical and emotional state, whatever it may be, from a place of nonjudgemental loving awareness
    • Practicing mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises
    • Engaging in any form of self-kindness – realizing you are human and that the emotions and feelings that come with that are something to embrace, not reject or feel guilty about.

Holding Space for others

For others, holding space means you are fully open and present to listen and support others as they need it. How many times have you just needed someone to be there for you? Not to give advice, or direct you in a certain path, but to just listen while you are vulnerable so you can release what is on your mind and feel cared for or less alone. Allowing someone to vent to you or even just accepting someone as they are fully themselves at that moment is holding space. It’s being there. Ways you could practice holding space for others:

    • Practice active listening. Listening not to respond or interject your own personal experience into the conversation, but to truly hear the message of what is being communicated so the other person feels heard.
    • Let go of your intuition to “fix” someone else’s problems or lend advice. Simply listening to someone is more helpful than you realize.
    • Tell the person you are holding space for that you believe in them, that they are worthy, and that their feelings matter.

Important reminders

Remember, if you are holding space for others, it is a good practice to schedule in time to hold space for yourself and decompress the feelings that you may encounter when holding space for someone else.

Every experience is different. Holding space can be a light and easy journey to self-awareness, or it can be something much deeper. Honoring every journey, yours included, without judgment is the key here.

Another key point is that it is a practice. Many of us are not in tune with our own emotions, let alone how to meet someone else’s with openness and acceptance. A practice is something you will need to do often in order to develop and grow further into it. 

“Holding space can be a difficult practice because it’s very intimate, yet requires a minimum amount of distance, respect (and space) to let the other person be themselves, grow, and develop emotionally.” Carly Schweet – carleyschweet.com

So while you’re learning to hold space, remind yourself that it is okay to falter or not fully let yourself go into the practice. It will come with time, and you will be deeply rewarded for it.

How do you hold space for yourself or others? What challenges do you face? Let’s chat in the comments!

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