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How Do I Hold Space For My Partner?

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Join Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com as she asks Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com about Hold Space For Your Partner.

Cathy: Hi Everyone, this is Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com. I’m here with Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com.

Reid: I’m being really weird in these videos this round.

Cathy: You are. I gave you too much coffee. That’s probably it.

Reid: Now you have to hold space for me.

Cathy: Okay. So if I wanted to hold space for my partner, how would I do that?

Reid: Don’t give them more coffee.

Cathy: You’re cut off.

Reid: Okay. So holding space kind of goes like this. What I notice in relationships and even in my relationships, when somebody gets triggered or is having a bad day or emotional or whatever that is, the analogy being the shit hit the fan because they took their bucket and threw it on the fan. Most of us get reactive and then we grab our bucket and we throw it on the fan.

Cathy: And it cycles.

Reid: Yeah.

Cathy: It builds on each other.

Reid: And if you’re competitive, you’re like, “Really? That’s not a bucket of shit, this is a [Growl].” What I recommend is training yourself first on how to hold space for yourself. So the analogy is when the shit hits the fan you go over and you unplug the fan. Giving yourself something to do that’s constructive, even though this is an analogy, in unplugging the fan, you’re not reacting.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: You’re going into, “Oh, task mode.” So first things first is when you need to hold space for your partner, realizing, “Okay, I’m going to go into holding space.” Rather than reactive mode. Inside of holding space, part of it is you acknowledging to yourself if and when you get triggered. So my partner is — somehow we get into an argument, they’re very upset, I may be upset, but basically I’m just kind of being a little bit in my own head. The way that I do it is I talk to myself and I’m like, “Wow, I’m really upset.” And I just keep breathing and being present with them. What I’m trying to do in holding space for them is one, not get more reactive.

Cathy: Right, not add to the flames.

Reid: And dumping it into their space, so I’m just trying to remain calm, remain present. So I’m paying attention to what they’re saying and listening to what they’re saying, trying to recreate it and basically being like, “Oh, okay, wow.”

Cathy: “I hear you saying this.”

Reid: “I hear you saying this. Am I clear in what you’re saying? It sounds like you’re really sad or it sounds like you’re really angry at me, tell me more.” What you’re doing most of the time is you’re just being there for them and encouraging them to let more out.

Cathy: It’s hard to do but it’s very loving on the receiving end. When I’m angry or upset and someone can just hear me and say, “Tell me more” rather than blaming me or being angry or reactive, there’s a great deal of intimacy built into that. Like afterwards I’m like, “Oh, I really trust that person, I can be myself and they’re going to be okay with it.”

Reid: Yeah, and what you’re doing is one, you’re kind of a basically adopting the stance that nothing’s wrong. Now this is of course if there’s physical violence or emotional abuse happening, that’s not what I mean, right? You’re like, “Okay, you’re crying” or “you’re angry, this is okay that you’re that way.” And the reason that you know that this is okay is that once you get the hang of this holding space for your partner, they go through their emotional cycle faster, and then once you get the hang of it you’re like, “Oh, everything is okay.” Because rather than this fight lasting two hours, by me not being reactive, I can actually hear you. You calm down, maybe it takes twenty minutes because some people get so juiced up on endorphins and body chemistry that it takes 15 to 20 minutes for that stuff to kind of start to subside, so I know that if I can keep my shit together for 20 minutes, you’ll get over the hump of it, and there’s a new possibility that happens.

So if you’ve never been able to experience this then hopefully us talking about it, you’re like, “Oh, okay, I can try to do that.” Once you’ve actually pulled this off once or twice and that’s on a good day, on a bad day I’m just as reactive, I’m like, “I’ll bring two buckets of shit. Hang on, let me get a bigger fan.” But once you get the hang of this and you see the results, then it’s actually on a good day you’re like, “[Sighs] I can do this.” Because now I’m also supporting my partner and things—

Cathy: –you’re modeling so they can be supportive for you.

Reid: Things get better quicker. If you’re upset because somebody else is upset you’re not human – well, you’re human because you’re upset, but realize that in any relationship you guys are going to have good days and bad days, you’re just having a bad day right now.

Cathy: And you may find that there’s certain topics where the trigger I have really triggers my partner’s trigger, it hits them, and if that happens, get some coaching, get someone to walk through, someone else to hold space for you guys, so you can like, “Oh, now I can hear her.” Reid’s done that beautifully for us, he’s held space and it’s like, “Okay, what is that person actually saying? Oh, okay, now I can hear it because I’m not so caught up in my, ‘Oh my God, I’m a bad person, you’re saying I’m not good in a relationship’.”

Reid: Yeah. And then the last bit I’ll close on is the idea that it’s okay if you don’t have the bandwidth to hold space, to tell your partner however it’s going to come out for you in words, but like, “Right now I don’t have the resources to be able to hold space for you. Can you give me 20 minutes to come back and I can be with you or can I hold space for you tomorrow or is there something I can do for you that would leave you feeling loved, honored and cherished? Right now that I can do that I’m capable of, rather than me like sitting here for you for the next 20 minutes,” because sometimes there’s a baby crying or you have an appointment.

Cathy: Or you’re just depleted

Reid: Yeah.

Cathy: You had a rotten day and you just don’t have the energy to be there.

Reid: It’s not that you’re being a dick, but you’re just being honest, “If I tried to do this right now I would get triggered and we would both spiral.” Sometimes a partner really doesn’t need space holding as much as they just need to be seen and know that you’re not leaving them.

Cathy: Know they’re important.

Reid: Mmhmm.

Cathy: Great, thank you.

Reid: You’re welcome. Bye!

 

More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:

Have You Been Shamed For Wanting Distance or Space?

If You Want To Be More Powerful …How Can You Still Leave Space For Other People?

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