Updated: Aug 13, 2021
*Prefer audio/visual? Check out FB Live where I share about the blog + offer a very simple somatic practice to support the feeling of taking space for yourself
A few years back I was texting with a friend when she sent me back handed & passive aggressive comment. It took me by surprise & felt like a kick in the gut… but at first I didn’t really compute the situation. Instead I began to spin out…
What did I do?
How can I fix this?
What’s she thinking? Feeling?
Maybe she just needs space, I should give her space.
I don't think she likes me.
I quickly reached out to her superseding my discomfort with an urgency to ‘fix’ it. I found myself strategizing as I texted ~ trying to create the perfect message that didn’t sound needy, definitely didn’t show I was upset, & would somehow curate a connective & heartfelt interaction.
Then I stopped myself… Wait a second... what am I doing?
My entire focus had been on her, how she felt, what she needed, so much so that I bypassed my own feelings completely.
It was in that moment that I realized I needed space.
Space from trying to fix it.
Space from feeling responsible for all of it.
Space to actually figure out how I felt & what I needed for myself.
Space to intentionally discover my next move.
At the time taking step back & reconnecting to myself was revolutionary. It took me out of the external focus of my friend & placed me back into my own centre. Here, I could experience my sadness at the comment, acknowledge my fears & attachment around the relationship, & ultimately come to a place where I felt settled.
Understanding Our Urgency to Fix Situations & Please Others
As kids (& even infants) our ability to adapt to our environment is necessary for survival. We are wired for safety.
Throughout our childhood (especially if it's a volatile environment) we might learn explicitly or implicitly to ‘ensure everyone is okay’ (even at our own expense) & that we should never ‘rock the boat.’ This hyper-vigilant adaptation protects us from punishment, rejection, & ensures our membership to the family or tribe.
As adults, many of us come to find the dominance of this adaptation problematic. Perhaps you take on too much responsibility, say yes when you want to say no, or suffer from a seemingly illogical fear of not being liked, being disagreed with, or having someone pull away. Anxiety, perfectionism, & worry can be indicators that we are trying to ‘fix’ a situation in order to meet that very instinctual need to be a part of the tribe. From this perspective standing out, rocking the boat, or even acknowledging & asking for the space we need can feel threatening.
The good news is that with care & practice this pattern begins to shift. When we learn to slow down, ask for, & take the space we need we carve a new pattern ~ one that demonstrates self value & respect. By sharing this need with respect & care it can also serve to build intimacy & trust in our relationships.
20 Phrases to Help You Ask For &/or Take the Space You Need.
If you’re like me in that introductory story taking space for yourself may be a revolution! With something so new it can be hard to find the language to accurately convey this need.