155. The Art of Holding Space

Hey everyone, this is Jennie Dildine with episode 155 of the LDS Mission Podcast. On this episode I discuss the art of holding space, which is an important tool for confidence and relationships.

I talk about how holding space can help missionaries and leaders create a supportive environment by allowing others to have their own experiences and emotions without judgment.

Some ways to hold space include being curious about others’ perspectives, accepting of differences, speaking to the full human experience, and avoiding comparisons or dismissing what people say happened to them.

I hope that by practicing holding space this week in your interactions, it can help you better connect with and support those around you on your mission or in your church service. Be sure to check out the free resources mentioned that can help as you prepare for your mission or return home. Thanks for listening!

As always, if you found this episode helpful, I want to invite you to subscribe if you aren’t already, share this episode with your friends and missionaries you know, and write a review. I know this work will help missionaries around the world and it would mean so much to me if you did. Until next week my friends.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 155. The art of holding space. I’m Jennie the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:54 Hey, everybody, thanks for being here. Welcome to the podcast. I hope you are well. I hope things are going well in your worlds. Maybe you’re going on your mission here soon. Maybe you’re on your mission right now. That you guys know We have missionaries listening to this podcast all over the world. Maybe you are home, and you had an awesome mission experience. Maybe you had a rough mission experience. And you’re just trying to kind of make sense of it. Maybe you’re a missionary mom, maybe you’re a mission leader. All of you. Welcome. And thanks for being here. I’m honored to get to be hanging out with you today. I wanted to Well, I kind of skimmed over the part where I talked about how missionaries listen to the podcast. I don’t talk about it on here, tons. But I do share this podcast via Google Drive with missionaries, and they can listen on their Google Drive’s. So if you’re interested in that, just send me an email podcast at Jennie dildine.com. And we can get them situated and connected with that. It’s helping a ton of missionaries. And so that’s really fun to do to be able to help them while they’re out there. I know that when my son were serving, I just felt like they were so unreachable, like they felt so far away. So this is kind of a fun way that we can get them some help if they need it.

2:21 So I wanted to talk today I’ve been honestly, like thinking about this concept for a really long time, I couldn’t quite put words to it, I couldn’t quite describe what it was like it made sense in my mind. But I couldn’t quite come up with the words or even anything to call it. But I recently realized that it’s a tool that I learned as a coach. When I went through the Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo, it’s called Holding space. And this can be a very useful tool. And it’s also an art for you in your relationships with other people, and in your relationship with yourself.

3:13 And I’ve been thinking about it almost like there’s two levels of confidence, right, there’s one type of confidence. And then there’s the next level of confidence. But finally, it clicked in my head, I’m just like, Oh, that is holding space. And it’s what I do with my clients. So this could be an amazing podcast for a mission leader. For if you’re in any sort of leadership in the church, right how to hold space for someone, it can be amazing for parents of kids and teenagers, you if you can learn how to hold space for your companions. Especially if you put a lot of stock in what people think about you. The art of holding space can be a total game changer. So I’m gonna use a couple examples and a couple analogies to hopefully help you understand what holding space actually is.

4:13 So I was working with a service missionary just recently, we just wrapped up our sessions. And he was talking about going to an activity with all of the service missions in his area. And he said something to me, like he had gone to the activity. And then he said something to me at our session. I said, Well, what do you want to talk about today? We I have always have things I want to teach, but then Is there anything specifically on your mind? And he said, Well, I felt really sort of insecure at this activity. And I started worrying a lot about what other people think about me, and if they like me, and things like that, and you know he’s, he knows what I teach all of my clients, which is your thoughts create your feelings. So in his mind, he was sort of like, well, I just want to believe like, my brain tells me they think, oh, you know, you’re not doing this right? Or you’re my brain tells me that they are thinking that I’m not awesome, or that I’m awkward or whatever. Right? And so our brain tries to sort of predict or make sense of what someone else is thinking. And then that creates a feeling, because it’s our thought is kind of like, I bet they’re thinking I’m awkward, right? And then we actually end up feeling awkward. So what this missionary said to me is, he said, so what I just decided to do was to switch my thought, and just decide, I don’t actually know what they think about me. I bet they actually like me. Right? So he just changed his thought to like, instead of, they probably think I’m awkward, too, I bet they think I’m pretty awesome. Right? That’s the first level of confidence is you get to decide what people think about you, you get to decide what you think about you.

6:12 Okay, but the next level of confidence, and what I talked to him that day is to hold space for yourself, and to hold space for those people. And what it sounds like is, they might think I’m awkward. And that’s okay. I don’t think I’m awkward. So this is just the next level, instead of talking yourself out of what our brain is, like, that’s for sure what they’re thinking and then just switching it, right, we just be like, and they might think I’m awkward. And that’s okay, too. I’m not for everybody.

8:07 Isn’t it so tricky? And so then we feel awkward, or we feel uncomfortable, or we feel nervous? Or we feel whatever it is sad or insecure, right? Because we think this is what they’re thinking. And I was like, Okay, well, why do you feel insecure? And she was like, Well, I think they’re thinking that I’m not doing it the right way. Or I think that they’re thinking that I should show up in this different way. Well, again, what they’re thinking can’t create a motion, but what we think they’re thinking can So of course, what she went to us, she’s like, I just, I just erased it from my mind. I just tried to change my thought she just was like, I, I just decided to think that they really do like me, and they really do think I’m doing it the right way. And I’m like, okay, that can work, you guys that actually can work to try to talk yourself out of it. But here’s where we get to the next level of confidence is we hold space for the experience you’re having and we hold space for the experience someone else is having and someone else can think you’re not doing it right. And it’s totally okay. Our thought becomes they might think that, and, okay, they’re allowed to think that they’re allowed to feel that way. They’re allowed to see me that way. And it’s totally fine.

9:33 You’re holding space for the experience that they’re having, but not letting it bleed into the experience that you’re having. I do this with my kids all the time. Like instead of thinking, Oh, my daughter shouldn’t be mad at me today. Because of what she’s thinking, I bet she’s thinking this and oh, and try to talk myself out of it. I’m just like, You know what, she probably thinks I’m pretty lousy today and she’s mad and that’s okay. She’s allowed to be mad. Of course she is. She’s a human, she’s a teenager, that happens. And we hold this space for the person to have the experience that it’s having without it like bullying over our experience.

10:15 That is where you get to the next level of confidence. I hope this is making sense. Let me give you another example. This is more of an analogy. So I like to think of the art of holding space is pretend like you’ve got a little cage that’s about the size of a shoebox, and you’ve got like a mini tiger in there, right. And we’ve got this tiger and the tiger is thrashing around in there, maybe the tiger represents your companion, let’s say that you’re worried is thinking whatever about you. We’ve got the tiger that’s in there thrashing. They’re just trying to figure out life. They’re just trying to figure out their emotions. They’re just trying to figure out their thoughts. They don’t know what’s going on. There, maybe a new trainer, and they don’t know how to do that, right? There’s this tiger that’s thrashing around in this cage. And we don’t get in the cage.

11:06 We just hold the cage lovingly, until the tiger comes down. Now, what these two clients were doing, is, they were saying to themselves, listen, I know the tiger doesn’t want to eat me. Right? That’s what they were saying is like, Oh, I’m just gonna change my thought and think, oh, no, they don’t think bad thoughts about me. They don’t think that I’m awkward, they don’t think that I’m doing wrong. And what I’m telling you is, the next level is for you to stay out of the cage, for you to hold that space with love and say, you know, what, the tiger might want to eat me. Totally makes sense. And it’s okay. I’m just gonna hold the space for them for this tiger to thrash around, and to have the experience that it’s meant to have. I’m just here to be a witness. I’m just here to observe it. And I’m not going to make it mean anything about me. People are allowed to have the experience that they’re having an IF for my kids or for anybody else. That means they don’t like me. That’s okay. That doesn’t tell me anything about me. It only tells me about them, like people who come out me on social, right? It’s like, Listen, you don’t know me. But But I’m not like trying to tell myself and talk myself out of that. They, they actually think nice things about me. I’m like, oh, no, they’re actually allowed to think not nice things about me. And it’s totally fine. They just don’t know me. That’s okay. So give people that space they need to have the experience they are having, because it’s not about you.

12:54 That Tiger thrashing around in the cage is not about you, that Tiger is having its own thoughts and feelings and concerns and paths and worries, and experiences, and problems and issues and mental battles and emotional battles. And so if someone doesn’t like you, they’re loss. But we don’t have to be mad about it. And we also don’t have to be like, try to talk ourselves into people liking us, right? Let’s say you teach a lesson. And it doesn’t go very well. And instead of thinking, Oh, and your brain wants to be like, see, those people don’t trust you or whatever. And our brain wants to do that. And then we want to fight back with our brain. And we want to be like, No, actually, I bet they really trust me. Right? But our brain knows that people have agency they get to choose. And so you get to the next level. And you’ll be like, yeah, they might not trust me. I don’t know. Makes sense, right? They’ve never heard this stuff before. It’s not about me, that’s about them. And it’s okay. And I’m just gonna hold loving, neutral kind space for people to have the experience that they’re having.

14:08 Now, I have a couple of steps for you, as I tend to do at the end of a podcast to create this loving, neutral space where we get to hold someone and the experience that they’re having. Number one, opt for curiosity. Okay, we can just be curious, like, instead of getting in the cage with the tiger, or trying to talk ourselves out of the fact that that person, you know, might might have ill feelings towards us or whatever, we can just be curious can be like, I wonder what’s going on for the tiger. I mean, is it thirsty? Is it missing home? Is it overwhelmed? Is it feeling burnout, we just get curious and I’m pleased with mission leaders as well. like I was talking to a missionary this week, and he was confiding some stuff in to his mission president and the mission president was like, Well, this is what’s going on. And the missionary was like, Um, no, that’s not what’s going on. So just get curious. Okay?

15:19 Opt for acceptance. Even if someone sees something differently than you. Let’s say your companion is really, you know, a certain way about baptism goals, or whatever, and you want to come at it from a more like loving numbers base place. Instead of just saying like that they’re wrong. Be like, oh, it makes sense that they see it that way. Totally fine that they do. This is how I see it. Did you guys know that we can have different opinions, all of us even on the mission. And I know it feels different on the mission, because it’s such a homogenous environment. But it seems like we all have the same purpose. And we all have the same goals. And we all have the same whatever, same clothes, even same name, tag, same shoes, all of that. You within the framework of the mission, can have ideas, and can have different ways of doing things. So even if someone sees something differently than you opt to accept that, and you don’t even have to change. You don’t even have to talk them out of it. Just be like, oh, yeah, makes sense. You see it that way? Okay. Like when people come at me on social media, I’m like, Yeah, okay, you’re allowed to think that I, I mean, I actually know me pretty well. You know, I know my intentions pretty well. But it’s okay. If you think that it kind of makes sense. You don’t know me? Right? So opt for acceptance.

16:54 Number three, do speak to the entire experience. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, is we basically only speak to the ideal, right? Like, ideally, my companion wouldn’t be struggling with anxiety, or I, you know, maybe if we’re speaking at his own conference or something, it’s like, ideally, no one’s struggling, or whatever. I think we can hold so much space and give people so much validation by just speaking, what’s actually true, is when we say you know, what, you might have days where it’s hard for you, you feel anxious, and totally, and you might, you know, and you also will have days, that philosophy, or if we’re speaking at a zone conference, right? We’re like, listen, I know, some of you might be struggling totally fine. Listen, I’m here for it. Let us know how we can help. Okay, so speak to both or the other example I was thinking of is, you know, if you’re speaking in a word about celestial marriage, let’s say, like, we tend to just speak about the ideal, but for sure, there’s someone in that congregation who’s struggling with their marriage. And we don’t have to talk about it extensively. But we can speak to it, we can invite them into the conversation, we can hold loving space for them, to have the experience that they’re having by just saying, and there might be some of you in this room who are struggling with your marriage. Makes sense? Totally fine. Okay, let us know if we can help.

18:28 Okay. Um, I have two more. This one’s a big one. Don’t tell someone what they are seeing didn’t happen. I just like if I could scream this from the rooftops, if you have a companion that tells you something, please do not disregard what they’ve just said and say no, that didn’t happen. Or if you’re a mission leader, right? And a missionary comes to you and says, This is the experience I’m having. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m feeling a little bit of doubt with my faith. I’m feeling this. Just please don’t just say no, that’s not happening. And then if someone shares an experience with you, let’s say about something that’s happened on on your mission or whatever, just be like, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know that that happened to people. Here’s what I want to say, is just because something hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Okay, I had this reel that I posted, posted recently, where I said that someone had told one of my clients that if they came home earlier than they were planning to stay on the mission that no one would want to marry them. And you will not believe the number of people that told me that did not happen. And listen, I have a tough skin and again, I can get pretty good at holding space for people. But I can imagine how hard braking and damaging that would be for someone to just be like that didn’t happen. I’m like, Well, it did. So please don’t tell people that that didn’t happen. What you can say is like, oh, yeah, I didn’t know that stuff like that happened. I’m sorry, that happened to you. Okay.

20:20 The last one is to hold space, don’t put your experience on a higher pedestal of quote unquote, right and wrong, or put their experience on a higher pedestal. Right? And so if someone tells you maybe the way that they want to do it, maybe they have something like, I am experiencing a lot of anxiety, and then you just know that you’re not experiencing anxiety. Don’t put yourself above them. Don’t, don’t be like, oh, yeah, well, it would be better if you weren’t, that’s not holding space for someone to have the experience that they’re having. Or don’t do that to yourself either, right by saying, I shouldn’t be experienced this experiencing this, and it would be so much better if I didn’t allow everyone to have the experience that they are just having. They’re human too. And remember, you’re human too. So this same sort of art of holding space that we can do for other people, let them be the tiger thrashing around, let them think what they’re going to think and have the experiences they’re gonna have. We can also do for ourselves, like, sometimes I see myself as that tiger thrashing in the cage, like, oh, my gosh, my thoughts, my feelings, I don’t know which way is up, and I’m thrashing around. And I can hold that loving space for myself, to where people are allowed to say, what they need to say, there. And we can be curious, we can accept it, even if it’s different from us, we can speak to the entire human experience when we’re talking to people, right? When we say things like, it’s okay, if you struggle, and you might be and I’m here for it to help. And if we don’t like discount, when people share something with us, when we don’t say like, that didn’t happen. And instead of comparing our experiences as if one is better than the other, listen, the human experience, it’s all designed to do the same thing. Right, to make us become more like our heavenly parents. And however, we each end up going about that on whichever path is totally fine. Right? That’s what that’s what Jesus is for. So I hope that helps you. Again, it’s like this next level of confidence, instead of just saying, Oh, they’re probably not thinking about that, that about me. You can actually be like, yeah, they might be. And that’s okay. Because I don’t think that about me. I’m okay. They’re allowed to think what they want to think. And that doesn’t have to affect me. Okay.

23:08 All right, you guys, I hope you have the most amazing week, see if you can practice holding space this week for people, letting them have the experience, they want to have not need to talk them out of it. Okay. I’m kind of thinking right now that this could maybe be the definition of mourn with those that mourn as we allow people to have the experience they’re just having. Okay, everyone, have a great week, we’ll talk to you next time.

23:36 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges, and many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries might video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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