Are you able to hold space for yourself?
,In all the years that I've worked as a mindfulness teacher, before the TBI/PTSD version of me, I noticed that one of the most challenging things we can do, is to hold space for ourselves as we go though challenging times. Sure we can berate ourselves. Sure we can criticize ourselves. We can even bully ourselves by telling ourselves that we “aren't doing it right”, we “aren’t smart enough”, we “are a loser” or tell ourselves some other version of this. Never realizing we are creating an enormous bolder on our path towards getting beyond what is challenging us. Never realizing that communicating with ourselves like this, prevents us from learning, growing and evolving or even cultivating the skills needed to move on in a healthy and positive way.
One of the reasons I believe it's so very easy to only see what is wrong with us, especially here in the USA, is that it's built into our society, our culture and entire way of social interaction. Our whole way of living is centered around achievement, "bigger is better", and vibe of constant self-improvement (think plastic surgery, aesthetic dentistry, the diet industry and intense "miracle" work outs in this case). As if who we are is never good enough right from the beginning. We are taught to compete with "the Jones's" and that the grass is always greener. We see a variety of air-brushed or posed images in the media that make us feel badly about ourselves, even if we aren't struggling with a disability.
There is a feeling of constant competition instead of collaboration here, which I've found to be more destructive in many cases than productive. And this sense of competition can be especially damaging when on a path of healing. It can make you feel as if you are behind the eight ball every day, and can no longer stand a chance of belonging to "normal" society. When a person goes from being at the top of their game to suddenly having the metaphorical rug swiped out from underneath them, their whole world is suddenly filled dis-ability where there was once ability - and the monsters have a field day with your mind. I know, because its brought me to my knees many times in the past three years since the diagnosis. Sure, on the outside things may appear "normal" but inside it's a completely different story. Maybe you can relate? There is a lack of understanding in our society when it comes to invisible disabilities, and in many cases, specifically mental health or neurological health challenges. Our culture never really allows us to appreciate people no matter what. We come into the world with no reservations, only love for one another. We even have a love for ourselves- just look at how a toddler admires themself in the mirror. We are taught competition- it isn't inherent. And for many of us we would rather be kind, embracing and loving than compete, so we tend to put others first and forget about our own unique needs.
What Does It Mean to" Hold Space"?
In the field of self-development if you have worked with a coach, gone to a workshop or even read blogs, books or listened to podcasts, you may have come across this phrase of “holding space”. But what exactly does that mean and why is it important?
You have probably “held space” for someone else and never realized it. There may have been a time when your child, a friend, a family member, your spouse, your partner or someone else has come to you and needed a shoulder to lean on. They may have needed to vent, and you may have sat there, being fully present with them as they told their story. You let go of ego, became fully present with them in that moment, and intentionally listened with loving kindness. You let them get it all out without ever jumping in to tell them your opinion, criticizing, judging or laying on the guilt If you have, then you held space for them. You gave them a welcoming environment where they could safely express themselves, knowing they wouldn't be made to feel anything other than what they personally were experiencing.
Holding space for someone means recognizing that we all stumble, face hurdles, and come across insurmountable obstacles. It means we trust that the person we are holding space for has the tools to make their way through. Because although they may be struggling in this moment, they are also powerful. They have the ability to make way for a new reality. We can fully appreciate and accept the person we are holding space for, without the need to pile our "stuff" on them, and we can simply be with them, which is quite a nurturing place to be.
Maybe you’ve been the recipient of such and experience this yourself through a close friend, family or a therapist, but you never thought of it like that before. Maybe being held like this, in such a nurturing and supportive way, is something you have never experienced, but would like to. And you can, because you can also hold space for yourself.
Holding Space For Yourself
All too often we forget that the most intimate relationship we will ever have is the relationship we have with ourselves. We forget to be a friend to ourselves, and become our own worst enemy-filling ourselves with self-sabotage through self criticism, judgement and guilt. Learning how to hold space for ourselves is something that I have found to be incredible healing. And when we learn how hold space, we begin to listen to our body's innate wisdom, instead of our mind. We begin to awaken to the friend who has been with us all along. The friend who has been guiding us through gut feelings, intuitive nudges and physical or emotional sensations.
Nobody knows us, better than we know ourselves, and as we learn how to liberate ourselves from the inner bully within, we are able to hold space for our inner parts to speak freely. To unload everything they have been holding onto, maybe for decades. Which can be both liberating and healing on many levels. Last month I shared a bit about communicating with the various parts of myself and how that has helped with my genuine healing journey, and show you how you can do it too-you can read it here if you missed it.
So how do you hold space for yourself?
That's a good question, and the answer can be personal. But I will make several suggestions that can get you started. Just remember that the intention behind holding space is that it is being fully present with yourself (or someone else), free from judgement, criticism, guilt or blame. You are creating a nurturing environment where there is complete appreciation for what you (or someone else) is going through, and accepting the fact that you (or they) have the tools to uncover the solution to a new reality.
We can not ignore our pain, stuff it down or avoid it and feel compassion at the same time. So the more you hold space for yourself, the softer your own suffering will become. And when it is a bit softer, it becomes more malleable. You can work with it like play dough and soon create something new and better suited for who you are now.
Learning to hold space for myself has been challenging at times and a lifesaver at others, simply because I never gave up on making sure to practice holding space for myself- no mater how much my brain told me it was stupid. I have been told by many that I have come a very long way in a relatively short amount of time on my healing journey. And I can appreciate that. However if I never practiced The Art of Mindful Self-C.A.R.E, by holding space for myself, I don’t think I ever would have been able to make the choices that were right for me, even if they often went against the norm. I invite you to be more of a genuine friend to yourself too by holding space when you are suffering, struggling or just need to vent. It just may be the best thing you ever do.
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.