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Author • Speaker • Instigator of Hope


Holding Space

Big Feelings

October 20, 2023

A note to all who feel empty inside

There’s a lot of talk in the mental health community about holding space.

To “hold space” for someone involves listening or being present in a nonjudgmental way. The goal is to help someone feel seen and heard. 

The term is appealing with its imagery. When I am holding space for someone, there is room for them to move through a strong emotion or difficult situation in whatever way they need. It requires us to ditch the advice for a minute, set aside “fix-it” mode, and just be with another human in all their vulnerable humanness. 

Therapists try to hold space for the grief, rage, fear, despair, and everything in between. A critical part of being able to do that is recognizing and acknowledging what is happening inside of us, paying attention to our own reactions and needs so we can show up for clients in healthy ways. This makes it possible to connect not only on a verbal or rational level, but also tuning into what is felt, what is under the surface. It takes a lot of training and practice, and we all still blow it sometimes!

If you are parenting a child with big feelings, you do a lot of holding space

It’s exhausting. And it might be completely unfamiliar, which brings me to the little piece of art that inspired this blog post.

Poem from You Are Only Just Beginning by Morgan Harper Nichols

Let’s look at this beauty a little more closely.

From within the hollow body
Of an acoustic guitar, 

There is space. Empty space, delicately held by the body of the instrument.

Music rises up to the surface
And fills the room.

Something beautiful rises from that empty space. Music! Not only does it fill that space, but it fills the room! Something living and powerful and delicate and lovely from that dry, wooden shell.

Isn’t it a miracle how
Something so striking
Can rise up out of nothing?

If you are reading this post, I’m guessing you are in a position of holding space–for your child, your students, your clients, a loved one. You also might be here because there haven’t been a lot of people who held space for you. 

Maybe you feel like an empty wooden shell of who you once were or who you thought you might be. I’m here to tell you that there is beauty in that space. There is still music inside you, inside the tough relationships in your life. There is music that will not only fill your heart, but that can rise up and fill the room.

I’m so glad we’re in this together!

P.S. For a few practical ideas on holding space for grief, jump to Safe to Feel Sad.








Author • Speaker • Instigator of Hope


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