Before we jump in: This article was originally shared with my email community back in September of last year. I'm sharing it with you on the blog today in the hope that it may be of some encouragement and insight to you in your creative journey right now, and also give you a little sneak peak of what you can expect from Weekly Letters too. If you'd like to receive letters like this one straight to your inbox every other Sunday, you can sign up below. You'll also have access to over 100 past Weekly Letters too!
As a coach, a lot of the time the most important work I do with my clients is just holding space for them. Holding space for self-discovery, mindset shifts, productive action planning, and ultimately a transformation from where they are now to where they want to be in their creative work and life.
So much of the time we can feel like we need fixing, when in reality there’s so much more we can achieve by holding space and existing in that space instead of trying to fight our way around it.
Before our recent trip to Greece I was feeling a little uninspired from work - in truth, I was itching to get away from it for a while. I love my clients, I’m so damn crazy grateful this is the work I’m able to do, but everything else in my business like creating content and managing the books and just generally being on top of everything was starting to exhaust me more than excite me.
But then this funny thing happened while we were away. There I was sitting on the beach and my head kept drifting to work. Not in that overwhelmed and workaholic way that I constantly try and avoid, but in a way that was welcome and wanted and needed so I could go back home with a fire in my belly instead of dread in my gut. I felt intense gratitude while away for the business and life I’d built back home and I almost instantly was feeling inspired again by the next steps ahead for my work to come.
It was like the floodgates had opened. I felt like I had woke up in my business - I was reminded of all the reasons why I love what I do, why I wouldn’t chose any other path in the world, and my excitement and inspiration was sparked all over again.
During an afternoon near the end of our trip, I realised that a by-product of this break was that I was able to hold space for myself in a way I hadn’t been back home. Free from the usual daily grind of life, I had space and time to really listen to myself and discover where my head and heart is right now when it comes to my work and my life. I can’t tell you how many mini-breakthroughs I had while away - so much clarity and motivation came to me just through sitting in that space that I was holding for myself.
I’m sharing this with you today because even though I truly believe in the power of coaching and having someone there to walk with you in your journey step-by-step, I also believe that one of the most important things we can do is to also learn to coach ourselves. To hold space for ourselves, to develop our ability to ask ourselves the right questions and find clarity and direction through them along the way.
Here’s the thing about holding space:
1. It’s a judgement free space
We cannot hold productive and meaningful space for ourselves or others if we’re bringing judgement to the table. Compassion, patience, and empathy is key. The worst thing we can do is to make ourselves feel inadequate, like we need “fixing”, or try and have control over the outcome. We cannot hold space for ourselves if we’re also telling ourselves that we’re lazy, or not good enough, or a failure. We also cannot hold space for ourselves if we’re obsessed with controlling and predicting the outcome. We have to surrender to the process, show ourselves unconditional grace, and be brave and vulnerable enough to ask ourselves the questions that will truly challenge and guide us right now.
2. It has to feed our journey, not our ego
Our ego wants to control everything. It cares about what other people think, about what our choices and decisions say about us as a person. Our ego doesn’t care about our higher level work, our journey of self-actualisation or self-discovery. Not much can be achieved by holding space just to feed our ego - our growth, and ultimately are joy, are limited by letting our ego take the reigns. On the other hand, when we hold space so we can feed our journey - whether we’re focusing on our life or career or a mix of the two - and feed the higher parts of ourselves, that’s when we can dig deep and really take some productive and meaningful steps forward.
Further reading for you: Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
3. It’s about discovery more than it is solutions
We can be so obsessed with jumping to the solution straight away - we want to avoid the messy middle as much as possible and just be where we want to be already - that we can lose out on the personal and deeper growth that can come with self-discovery along the way. Holding space for ourselves isn’t, first and foremost, about finding a solution to our problems or frustrations. It’s about listening to ourselves, to discovering what we really want and desire, and really understand what is holding us back and challenging us along the way. It’s through this discovery that we’re then able to move forward in a purposeful and proactive way.
Further reading for you: The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte
4. There is literal space needed to truly hold space
This is what I was reminded of while I was away - I cannot hold true space for myself if I don’t have the physical space to do so. I know this to be true with my clients - by carving out 90 minutes together every other week, we’re able to really prioritise time on focusing on their journey along the way. That commitment from them is usually their first step to making the changes they want to make in their work and their lives. We cannot hold space on autopilot - we need uninterrupted time to really dive deep and discover what it is we need and want to discover right now. We have to choose to create that space for ourselves along the way.
Further reading for you: Thrive by Arianna Huffington
My challenge for you today is this: hold space for yourself. Next time you’re battling with a fear, a mindset block, resistance, a roadblock in your business, or lack of inspiration - instead of jumping straight away to a quick-fix-solution, or feeling hopeless that there is no way forward, hold space for yourself instead. That could look like journalling it out or maybe going for a walk and having a conversation with yourself in your head - whatever it looks like for you, the most important thing is that you ask yourself the best questions that will truly help you to find clarity, peace, and direction. Some good ones to start with are:
- What do I truly desire in my work and my life right now?
- What are the stories I’m telling myself about this situation that aren’t actually true?
- What am I telling myself that I want right now that I don’t truly desire?
- What am I afraid of right now? Why?
- What do I really need right now in my work and my life?
The best questions will be personal and specific to you - maybe they’re about your family, or relationship, or friendships, or work, or health. Whatever they are, keep the questions open and judgement free. The secret is to keep asking yourself more questions, to stay curious even when initial answers start to unfold. Keep diving deeper and deeper and see where that takes you.
Never stay stuck in a moment, or a struggle, or a fear, or a story that isn’t truly serving you. In the work I do every day with my clients I see how capable we all are of being our own advocates in life, of facing the things that are scary, challenging, and hard, and of moving forward and becoming the creatives, the business owners, and the people we want to be.
As always, I’m rooting for you!
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