Personal Growth Partial Truths: Holding Space? ⬛Aug 25, 2022
For all of its good intentions, the idea of "holding space" often implies holding back and taking responsibility for another’s wellbeing (usually impossible). These rest on funky assumptions about separate interests, the nature of personhood (If you become the room, is space separate from you?), responsibility, power, goodness, and reality. As my favorite Zen priest Diane Musho Hamilton once said, "Space holds itself".
Space-holding points to something. People need to be seen and heard. People get overwhelmed; any particular thing could be unwelcome at any given time. Yet spaceholders tend to repress their experience, leading to burnout. They tend to impose a pre-planned idea about how to be, driven by unconscious fear, leaving little room for creativity or intimacy. They often end up disappointed and resentful when others don't reciprocate.
The relateful approach is to recognize and attune to present-moment relational capacity. You’re mindful of the other, yourself, and the relationship. What’s needed here? What’s real? What’s being asked of me? What if this is really about me? Being relateful is inherently vulnerable because presence is definitionally unpredictable. Sometimes that means surprising expressions (love includes me). Sometime that means holding back. But holding back becomes a choice you make to surrender to truth, not an obligation or cultural pressure.
If you find yourself wanting to ‘hold space’, here’s an alternative: Love. Where love includes you.
With love, Jordan
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