There is a direct link between the growing prison population and the lack of mental health resources. The only difference is that we can scare people into paying to build more prisons and keep “dangerous people” away from us. It’s much harder to convince people to invest in prevention through mental health treatment, even if that would be much more effective in protecting everyone.
For me, I’ve always viewed holding space in terms of that word, safe. When I hold space for someone I’m not solving their problem, or questioning them. I’m simply letting them be. Whatever that might look like at that moment, and I’m making sure that they are safe. It means making sure that being in my presence, either in person or virtually, is a place where they are free to cry, vent, question, or whatever form of expression is needed to help at that moment. It means being the person who is simply there, listening, offering support, but above all else, keeping them safe, physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.
I also recognize how difficult that really is to do. Many of us weren’t raised to “hold space”, but to fix things. We see someone crying and our instinct is to fix, to do something to get them to stop crying, instead of simply giving them space to cry. Or we want to run out and correct instead of simply allowing people the space to tell their story safe from the worry of the person hearing it will overreact. This is so hard for us, we want to correct injustice, to fight for the people we care about, but sometimes by doing so, we eliminate their safe space to simply tell their story and stop listening to what they want from us. That is the opposite of holding space.
How do you hold space for others, and for yourself?
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To my way of thinking, the answer to that question is way too many. The article below lays out some interesting ways of looking at social media, why things are the way they are, and maybe some different ways we should be thinking about it that might help it have less of a negative influence…