Holding Space for Self & Others – Three Essential Elements

What does it mean to hold space? How do we hold space for ourselves? As leaders how can we hold space for our team members so that they feel heard?

Holding space for others

Many of us are good at holding space for others. As a homeopath I loved spending my days holding space for others. When we hold space for others we listen without judgement. We allow the other person time to process and to be heard. It is not about giving advice. It is about saying I care for you, I’m here for you, you are worth my time and attention.

Holding space for ourselves

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could hold space for ourselves with that same intent? If we were to hold space for ourselves, what would it look like? What qualities would it have? Here are some of the aspects of holding space that I’ve been thinking about.

Holding space has an element of curiosity. It is wondering what will emerge from the quiet moments. It is about holding boundaries for ourselves, shutting out some of the noise and the clutter to allow our thoughts to flow. If there were one element of holding space that was most important to me it would be this curiosity.

Holding space is also honouring ourselves, placing value, honouring that I am worth the investment. It is a knowing that if I allow time to hold space my creativity will flow. It is trusting that when I take time to play and create, wonderful things happen.

Holding space is also about encouraging ourselves.  During my recovery from breast cancer I wrote and hooked myself love letters.  I still write myself a little note of encouragement, particularly if I’ve had a bad day.  After all, we would do it for others, so why not for ourselves?

How do you hold space? For others? For yourself?

Since January 2016 I have had a daily writing practice. I also spend at least a couple hours each day rug hooking or spinning or wet felting. I try to make time to walk to appointments and notice the world around me rather than rushing all of the time.  My morning meditation and yoga practice is also a practice of holding space for myself.  Of getting on the mat and breathing and moving and feeling in my body.

Holding space for myself through my writing and rug hooking design has allowed possibilities to emerge that I never imagined. Being curious and imagining my What Ifs and connecting to the body feeling has helped to stretch my creativity.  I would say holding space for myself is still a work in progress.  I still have a tendency to overwork and not take breaks.  But I am consciously working on this and can see improvement.

Three Essential Elements of Holding Space

Holding space for yourself and others can look like many things, but I think the essential elements are: time – allow time for the magic to happen; curiosity – be open to what comes up, without judgement; play – approach with a light heart and a willingness to play.

An invitation

My second book One Loop at a Time, The Creativity Workbook contains pages for you to write or sketch that I call Invitations to Create. If you would like to explore a journaling practice as a way of holding space for yourself I invite you to check it out.

As a team leader, would you like to explore more ways to hold space for your team members? At Meryl Cook Engagement by Design, I work with teams to raise engagement, relieve anxiety and get out ahead of transitions. Bringing people together to create something lasting and meaningful, while building new skill sets, is at the centre of my process. My workshops help to create the space, curiosity and sense of play needed to think outside the box and find new solutions. Connection, purpose and empowerment are outcomes you can expect for your team.

Let’s book a short conversation to discuss how to best support your team.