A letter about the power of holding space for someone
Updated: Jul 19, 2022
This is a letter about holding space.
And also holding more than a few, sometimes conflicting, views at once.
Sometimes the power of coaching is just holding space for someone. And that is what I needed this week. Coaches have coaches too and I was very grateful for mine this week.
Lisa and I call each other Pea because we are like peas in a pod. I seem to be surrounding myself with Lisas, haha!
Anyway, Lisa W is the most amazing listener and that is what she did. Even though she said very few words, which is the sign of a great coach, after I had spent a lot of the day crying, we ended our session laughing.
Sometimes in a session we just need to talk something out. I know I have said this before and it is worth saying again, that coaching isn't about giving advice or telling someone how they should live their life. We all have the answers deep inside us and sometimes we need to say things aloud to another human being and be heard so we can work out what that answer is and sort it all out in our heads.
To be able to speak aloud and have those words received and heard without judgement is so precious. And feels so under-rated in this world where opinions are thrown around like weapons and words exchanged can sometimes feel like we are going in to battle.
Just to have words land on another's ears and be held is beautiful and special.
I have heard it said when questioning the profession of life coaching, 'who needs to be coached in life. Who are these people who think they have the answers to life?'
And to that I say, if a life coach is telling you they have the answers and their life is perfect, then I would look for another coach. Because they are not being truthful. They may be selling you the dream, but that is what it is, a sales pitch.
I know I can help you achieve your dream, and I will hold the vision for you while you get there, but it is you who has to do the work. No one can do it for you, just like if you want build a muscle, you can't hire a PT and have them do it for you. You have to put the work in yourself, with the right support, the right questions, the guidance in the right direction.
And sometimes it is just about listening.
What I have also been reflecting on this week is how the world needs us all to be able to hold more than one view at one time. I spent a lot of my time being very absolute. Very all or nothing. But the truth is rarely one thing or another, it can be all of the things. We can love someone dearly but be furious at them. Or dislike someone but have respect for them. We are all human and we all have many parts of us, some which we show to the world and some that we do not.
One thing I find useful is, when I hear myself saying yes, but… I stop myself and try to say yes and…
So last week when I felt my emotions building and it felt like the atmospheric pressure was getting denser like the feeling before a storm,I thought, yes and… I have people I can reach out to. Yes I am struggling this week and I am dealing with it, letting myself feel the feelings and accepting that I feel down right now. And it will pass. I remembered the pendulum swing of life, momentum means that it will swing the other way at some point, we just have to keep moving forwards one step at a time. I remembered that the atmospheric pressure changes again when the storm breaks and passes.
I was reminded this morning listening to a podcast (of course) that we are supposed to have stressors in our lives - they help us learn and grow and become better humans.
The five things I have learnt or remembered in the past week that I hope can help you too:
1. Look for the lesson - what is this part of my journey teaching me, what do I need to take from this, what is it trying to tell me?
2. Look for the truth - is this the truth or am I telling myself a story about what is happening here?
3. Am I catastrophising? Assuming that the worst is happening, or is going to happen?
4. Look to see what role you're playing for yourself - I had to ask myself, am I falling in to a victim role?
5. Ask, can I reach out and help others? Taking myself away from my own head, my own problems to extend help to those around me always helps. Not in the role of fixer or rescuer, but more like in the 12th step. For example, helping others to not drink alcohol always helps me carry the message forward and therefore not turn to a drink when times get hard. And I can do that when I am struggling with emotions too, it's not just about the alcohol. (It's never just about the alcohol).
When I remembered all of these things, reached out to my coach, to my family and friends, I didn't stay under the storm cloud for very long. After the storm comes the rainbow. And the clouds part and the sunshine breaks through.
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