Don’t pass the tissues?
The poor woman has snot dripping down her face and I think that’s a little spit on the side of her mouth.
I’m clasping my hands together to keep from reaching for the box of Kleenex. I listen to my internal dialogue with a small part of my brain as I focus the rest of my attention on the woman in front of me. My face is schooled to neutral and my body language is attentive, but not invasive. I’m picturing a circle around the two of us, keeping her safe as she digs into her own dark places.
This is how to hold space. And it’s hard as hell.
When you work in the realms of healing and interpersonal transformation, you quickly realize that people need 3 things to grow:
- and space to learn to hear their own inner voice and to learn to trust it.
I often joke that, like blood, my thoughts change color when they hit the air.
This is true for many of us; sometimes we need to speak it to know if we believe it.
One aspect of healing work is to create space for people to speak.
When we can voice our thoughts, feelings, and intuitions—even if they don’t “make sense” or conform to societal notions of what you should say out loud—we begin to uncover bits of ourselves that are wounded or uncertain. And bringing these bits to the light initiates a healing process.
Both with my advanced students and in my own office (back when I worked with clients regularly!), I have seen the power of simply being heard. People are transformed by being able to safely share their story.
Being heard and feeling understood is one of the most important parts of the process we go through to heal not only our bodies but also our spiritual and emotional wounds.
The other important process in the healing cycle?
Hearing other people’s stories. It’s in the sharing that the universal themes begin to emerge, that we begin to see the archetypes that lie behind our individual tales.
Stories heal and the giving and receiving of stories is the yin and yang of acquiring wisdom.
I wait until she asks for the tissues.
It’s hard, hard, hard to wait. To not hug. To give space. To make space sacred.
And then the moment comes. She reaches for the Kleenex. She chooses her road forward.
And I take a deep breath, letting go of my hold on the sacred bubble of near-silent support, and offer a learning tale to help her on her way.
We’ve been navigating this work in Witch Camp this week. Figuring out how to be both exuberant supports, advice-givers, and wisdom-sharers while also bearing witness and creating space for revelations.
It’s a dance, a balance, two sides of the same coin.
It forces us to look at ourselves in ways that sometimes hurt.
How do you navigate this dance gracefully in your life?
Inhale: expand the space. Exhale: share the story.
Share with us in the comments!