Holding Space: How To (Really) Help Someone Grow

Change, even when improvement, can be scary.  Humans thrive in love. It is the lack thereof that stimulates the motivation for behaviors that seem not in alignment with such grace. The most effective and graceful way to foster change in yourself and in others is to hold space for that person (yourself or a loved one). Holding space means providing a “shelter” to explore the changes, rather than forcing the person to change. 

So, you want to help someone improve? Helping someone improve can be tricky – did they ask for the help? Can you help them in a way that retains their sense of autonomy, rather than “taking over”?

For example, if someone's wrong, help them learn and grow by giving them the compassionate space to feel honestly invited to do so, by accepting and encouraging, rather than bashing and shaming. We can teach and inspire others to grow without having to put a person down for where they currently are. When this motivation comes from love, rather then from ego, the possibilities are expansive.

Perhaps our initial dismay with others’ current expressions may stem from the fact that we expect better from them because we see and know their potential is higher. At its core, this is a virtuous feat. In our hearts we wish and want the best for others. It is one of the most estranging ways to empower one to access that potential, however, when they feel pressurized into a box of judgment and shunning dependent on their current or previous expressions. 

No one deserves judgment for where they are, as the truth of all of us moving in time, is that our potential is boundless and fresh within each moment. We need to feel accepted as we are in order to feel most free to grow, as greater evolution is always in our truest nature. Our being is always seeking to expand. Love is the greatest solvent in enabling this to happen in its truest capacity.

Belittling others is never an appropriate solution -- no matter how wrong someone’s actions might be perceived to be. When we understand that some of the unaligned actions humans may commit come from innocence or ignorance, rather than inherent evil, then the ways we seek to educate must take an authentically compassionate turn.

We bash and shame only because others have hurt us with those same two weapons, and we subconsciously believe taking the bashing and shaming that has been programmed into us (and that thus we now internally bash ourselves with) onto others is a way to resolve those projections that initially hurt us rather then help us, yet which we have learned to accept and therefore seek to project onto others, so that they might feel the same. This is always projection, and comes from an unconscious place of hurting, rather then helping.

If we can access our true hearts’ desires to help others, we can see that belittling in any way never truly gets the progressive job done: it only makes a person more insecure, hurt, and disillusioned from you – you, who might be able to serve as their helper to access the potential that they only need the support to feel they can easily step into. Otherwise, in that unconsciously created separation, one’s ego only feels the need to rebel and contract as a protection mechanism from this deemed threat. This is truly important to understand. If we hope to help get a point across to another, and to truly be heard, we must speak in a way where the heart of the one we are speaking too feels respected, safe, and honestly cared for enough so that it feels open to listening and receiving, as it senses the suggestion coming from a place of togetherness rather then hierarchy, shunning, or separation.

Whether it be your children, or your president -- do you want to blame and belittle, or do you want to help another grow? This is the true question of maturity.

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