Some days it feels like everyone around you is melting down. They’re having panic attacks or big emotions that just can’t be contained. No matter how much you try to logic or rationalise to them, nothing brings them relief.
Add to that you’re own inability to deal with strong emotions, or inability to deal with feeling helpless. Or impatience with them for not just “getting over it”, or not being able to “fix it” for them.
From my own limited research and experience, what someone going through big emotions needs is for you to hold space for them.
What doesn’t work is
- Telling them to get over it. It makes them feel worse and less likely to seek support next time.
- Fixing it for them. It’s their life journey and only they can take the steps to make changes in their life.
- Ridiculing or belittling their feelings. Really, have you ever actually experienced yourself or someone else healed by this? It’s your ego getting in the way, so find away to put it away.
What can help is
- Listening without judging
- Being a presence of calm they can anchor to in their storm
- Holding them or not holding them – depending on what what they want
- Removing them from the stressful situation if they’re not able to do it for them-self right now
What is holding space?
- It’s removing your ego and needs from your responses
- It’s listening without judgement
- It’s being present, open and protective of what they need right now
- It’s about being tuned in to their feelings, and also yours, and not letting yours take over the moment
- Providing understanding and validation, but knowing that you don’t need to agree with them
If someone around you is having big feelings and you want to support them, don’t make it about you – it’s not helpful to either of you. Don’t force upon them, your way of fixing it.
Support them and trust that they can work through it and come out better on the other side.