Let’s Hold Space for Each Other: We Need More Givers of Affection.
It’s time to give each other what we all secretly want.
What’s something a lot of us secretly want but few of us give freely? No, it’s not money.
It’s unconditional positive regard, or some call it unconditional love— or at least unconditional curiosity, warmth, acceptance, respect, encouragement, and compassion, in contrast to harsh judgment, complaint, and criticism. The latter are based on false beliefs about one’s responsibility or impact in interactions and based on rigid assumptions about others’ behaviors— in which harsh judgment, complaint, and criticism only breed resentful attitudes and reduced efforts at communicating, which is a tragedy because deep down, none of us ever stop wanting unconditional positive regard.
Indeed, it’s a tragedy when we believe we’re entitled to unconditional acceptance from others without trying at it ourselves by being there for others’ difficult emotions [which also requires that we be there for our own difficult emotions first]. It’s a tragedy because we want something but we’re not willing to put in the work, full-stop. [So then we have disappointed people who seem clueless about how they got to be that way.]
More specifically, the work in this context goes back to the work of holding space for another person’s vulnerabilities without being critical or dismissive, offering a welcoming attitude, acknowledging whatever they happen to be going through internally. Doing so, holding such space for another, will result in magic: people start feeling more accepted, which is again, what everybody wants— to feel we are being accepted, that we belong, and that people essentially like us enough, still.
People who feel accepted as a result of having received such acceptance from others go on to spread this acceptance because they now have an idea of how they can show up for others in this way and they have developed a sense of generosity (contented people are more likely to give). In other words, there is no shortcut to a more empathetic and loving society in which its members are contented due to having what they secretly want: we each have to take the responsibility to give more freely what everybody secretly wants, and we can start by admitting that all of us, you and me, secretly want this. As John Mayer said (or sang), “If you want more love, why don’t you say so” (Heartbreak Warfare).
One way to “say so” would be to just start giving since action speaks louder than words, or basically, non-verbal communication tends to produce better results. When you smile, I smile back, for example. You give love, I give you love. Then there’s the possibility that some of us are “smiling” and some of us aren’t— you get my metaphor. That’s the second tragedy: that some of us are willing to do the work of holding space and being present whilst others aren’t.
Those who aren’t willing to do the work may either never admit they want unconditional affection and acceptance or they may admit this but remain uninterested in learning and applying what it takes to give. Hence the importance of checking with yourself if you do have this want, or if you do have this want but lack interest in going through the motions required to receive this want— then maybe it’s time to explore and figure out what may underlie your disinterest in giving: it could be developmental trauma and narcissism but it could also just be a lack of awareness, education and encouragement to pursue what would make our lives more magical i.e. interacting in healthy ways).
P.S. ’Tis all about emotions, baby. I’m not talking about giving money, praises, or even time. You can spend time with someone and yet still not be there.