From the moment of our births (perhaps even our conception?) we have a deeply rooted longing in us to be felt, to be seen, to be truly heard and to have our emotional world validated by others. When our individual experiences are held empathetically and we have permission to flow naturally, we come to a place of peace.
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Love is fully allowing the other person to be who they are and offering the gift of presence on their unique journey.
When you listen and truly witness the other from an open space of non judgement, without needing to fix, criticise, compete or compare, then you really create a gift for the sharer and for yourself as the one holding the space which is simply a miracle for you both. If you truly listen then you will learn first hand about the human condition.
You are simply saying: I love you = I allow you.
Donald Winnicott, a British psychoanalyst and paediatrician, created the term ‘holding environment’ to describe the ideal form in which growth and development could occur, intertwined with qualities of contact and space.
Winnicott initially developed the term “holding” to refer to the supportive environment that a therapist creates for a client. The concept can be likened to the nurturing and caring behavior a mother engages in with her child that results in a sense of trust and safety.
Winnicott believed that this “holding environment” was critical to the therapeutic environment and could be created through the therapist’s direct engagement with a client. He also believed that antisocial behaviors developed from a person’s having been deprived of a holding environment in childhood and from feelings of insecurity. As adults we can go a long way to healing another persons wounds by offering a safe holding space in which they can share their story.
As friends, family and lovers we can also hold our loved ones through their times of tribulation or similarly joy. By simply sitting and listening with undivided attention in a safe, calm and quiet space making attuned, present-time, engaged contact with another as they are. This provides an open, warm sanctuary in which their experience can unfold and illuminate – we become vehicles of love in action.
Simultaneously, by offering the gift of space, we do not interfere with the unfolding of their heart and sometimes complicated inner process. We do not neutralise their experience or demand that they be different, change, transform, shift, or ‘heal’ in order for us to love them. If sadness is there, or fear, or despair, or shame, or depression, or profound grief, we can infuse their inner process with validation and presence.
We will be there for them, but only if they need us. We will not drown them with the projections of our own unlived life, nor will we unload upon them our own requirements and agendas, arising out of our own undigested desires and failings. Instead, we will simply honour them with tender space.
In his 1951 paper: Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena, Winnicott writes: “It is in the space between inner and outer world, which is also the space between people–the transitional space–that intimate relationships and creativity occur.”
Read: 7 Reasons to Love Shy People.
We can also provide this same contact and space to ourselves and come to discover that when fully aware, we are in fact the ultimate holding environment. Regardless of your beliefs or to whom you pray, if indeed you do. All of us are always resting in the majesty of some presence and we are already ALWAYS held – by a greater presence– who is ever present within your own miraculous body through its nervous system and heart.
While we may not always understand our experiences – and while it may never fit into our ideas, hopes, dreams, and fantasies about the life we were ‘meant to live’ – we can come to trust that it is unfolding according to a unique blueprint which is emerging out of this unseen hand of love.
Perhaps it’s now the time for many of us to hold and allow ourselves to be held in an open loving space? Simply sharing with another in a way that overrides the confines of the predesigned roles that limit our potential. Instead, listening to that inner yearning to be heard and to witness from a place of purity and love.
Read: 5 Scientific Reasons We Fall In Love
Perhaps you know someone who needs to be heard and can offer this priceless gift to them today? Perhaps you can share this article with someone you feel can join you on this unique quest? Does this article make you feel uncomfortable or create deep longings in you? Please give us feedback in the comments below?