Despite all our efforts, each of us experiences difficult and tragic moments in life. We will all experience the death of loved ones or life altering illnesses or accidents to ourselves or others. Modern society has relegated death largely to hospitals (instead of the home where 90% of deaths occurred even as recently as 100 years ago) and the dissolution of nuclear family support systems have left many of us poorly equipped to emotionally deal with these events. Yet, I think most of us know of a relative, friend, religious leader who seems to know what to say and is a gentle pillar in our times of need. They make the journey through these dark valleys much easier in a way that seems almost natural. The truth is that this isn’t something that comes naturally to most. Instead, it is sometimes called learning how to ‘holding space’ or ‘holding sacred space’ for someone.
Holding space means that we are willing to walk with 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 judgement and control. It creates an environment where people can feel what they need to feel with someone they trust and in doing so, learn how to listen to and trust themselves and their abilities to do the right things. This space allows them to acknowledge and process the often dramatic, illogical, and out of control feelings and thoughts that are common during these moments instead of burying or having them judged and discounted. In my experience, it’s how we become conduits of Christ for others.
Anyway, here’s the 8 points that this article covers about how to hold space for others. I recommend it as a read.
1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
2. Give people only as much information as they can handle.
3. Don’t take their power away.
4. Keep your own ego out of it.
5. Make them feel safe enough to fail.
6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc.
8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.