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Holding Space for Myself

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Last week my therapist and I had an intense discussion about holding space. He challenged me with,

“Aimee, you’re really good at holding space for other people, but how are you holding space for yourself?”

I was completely flummoxed. I literally stopped and just sat for several moments. I had no idea how to answer this. How am I holding space for myself? What does it even look like to hold space for myself? I’ve been pondering this and reading quite a bit to help organize my thoughts and shift my perspectives.

I found this article helpful for thinking about what it actually looks like to hold space: What it Means to Hold Space for Someone

The author defines holding space this way:

“It means that we are willing to walk alongside 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.”

Re-writing this to define holding space for myself, it becomes:

Recognizing my journey is better when I remove judgement of myself, embracing my humanness – my strengths and weaknesses — as equally valid and worthy, removing attachment to potential outcomes and simply embracing what is and what will be without trying to change it.

This is powerful stuff!

These are mindsets I attempt to hold during my daily meditation. What would it look like to truly embrace holding space for myself in even more intentional and routine ways?

The author, Heather Plett lists lessons she learned about holding space from Ann, the hospice nurse who cared for her mom. I challenged myself to take some of these lessons and shift them to define what it might look like for each of us to hold space for ourselves

Embrace and Trust My Intuition and Wisdom

As a coach, I fully believe each of us has an inner genius, a higher self that we can tap into. Our intuitions are powerful and we are filled with wisdom. When we fully embrace and trust that intuition and wisdom, the universe is wide open to us. We know what we need and we know how to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes we need to pause the noise in our heads for a moment to get back in touch with our intuition. Sometimes we simply need to pay attention to the gut instinct that is telling us about a situation or a person. Regardless, every one of us has a powerful intuition. We each have the wisdom we need already within us. Maybe you haven’t tapped into those parts of you and it feels difficult or weird, but they are there. You have exactly what you need already. Embrace it. Trust it. Honor it.

Affirmation: I trust and honor my intuition and inner wisdom. 

Limit and Curate My Information Intake

We have unlimited amounts of information available at our fingertips and very little of that information is actually beneficial for us. What you let enter your mind affects you. It shapes your perspectives, your feelings, and how you approach the world.

You have the power to take control of what goes into your mind. What do you read? What do you watch on media? What is in your social feeds? You already have a strong sense of which information intake is good for you and which isn’t. (Trust your gut on this one!)

I have serious FOMO. Like a lot of people, I struggle with the mindset, “I’ll miss out on important things if I eliminate information sources.” If this is you too, take a moment to consider how true it is. Will you really miss out on important things? If so, what are ways to curate your information intake so you’re getting what you want/need and eliminating everything else? There are always solutions.

Affirmation: My mind is sacred and I carefully curate what information I allow. 

Own the Power to Make My Own Decisions

I had a fairly recent revelation — I wait for other people to approve my decisions before moving forward. I recognize this is a trauma response and was a protective measure when I was young. But, I’m 49 now. I’m a big girl. I get to make my own decisions and I really, truly, honestly don’t need anyone else’s approval.

My MO was to plan out a decision in my head, think the whole thing through, and then to casually mention to a friend, “I’m thinking about doing XYZ.” I’ve operated this way for a long time and it hit me (like a ton of bricks!) that I was seeking approval for actually moving forward. I can look back and see times I didn’t move forward with something because I didn’t get the positive response I wanted from my friend. Gah! This is ridiculous!

Granted, sometimes our decisions directly impact other people and we should make those decisions collectively. But, you know which decisions we’re actually talking about here. You know those things that you are seeking permission before you leap. You’re waiting for someone else to approve your idea. Your heart’s desire is to leap, but you’ve handed your power to other people. What do you need to do to take that power back?

Affirmation: I do not need permission from anyone for my decisions.

Let Go of Shame

As a human, I make mistakes. Sometimes I make a lot of mistakes. All of us do. It’s simply part of our humanness. We also like to embrace shame as the natural result of our mistakes. Shame becomes the price we are willing pay in exchange for our mistakes. Most of us are taught this at a very early age that the slightest infraction should produce shame. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” We learn that living in shame means people will be nicer to us and more forgiving. We crave that, so we continue to let our words and actions express a deep sense of shame.

What would happen if you embraced your mistakes and let go of the shame you hold around them? Think about something specific that you’ve done that you feel shame about. Got that in your head? OK, now allow your mind to expand and embrace some new ideas about this situation. What would change if you didn’t feel shame? How would it feel? What would change if you allowed yourself to say, “Yes. I made this mistake and people were hurt. I have punished myself enough and I will no longer feel shame about it. Shame will not control this narrative.”

Affirmation: My mistakes do not define me. Shame does not define me.

Holding space for ourselves might be one of the most powerful things we can do. There’s so much freedom and life in these sacred spaces! How are you holding space for yourself? If you’re not holding space for yourself, how would your life be different if you did?