Here’s How to Hold Space for Others’ Emotions

Published on March 28, 2023

Have you ever felt drained after a conversation with someone feeling emotional? Perhaps this person was grieving, and you didn’t know what to say. Maybe you wanted to take the other person’s pain away, but you didn’t know how. Here are some pointers to hold space for others without draining your energy or burning you out.

  1. Listen without fixing: When someone is crying, they release stress from their body. You can’t physically take someone’s emotional pain away. However, you can validate their experience. You can acknowledge how painful it must feel for them. Trying to fix the feelings or issues takes away from this person’s experience. However, anger can be a challenging emotion to deal with if the person becomes aggressive. 
  2. De-escalating anger and aggression: Listen for the motivation behind the anger. You should politely excuse yourself if they try to control or intimidate you. Sometimes anger expresses outrage, unfairness, or underlying feelings of hurt. In this case, manage your own emotions around conflict first. Listen to the other person while you regulate your own body. You can do this by focusing on your breathing or sounds, smells, and other sensations. Validate the other person’s feelings and remind them you are there to help. Tell them you can’t register what they say if they are screaming. Remain calm and view the other person as an observer would. It is outside of you, and you are watching. Do not engage in any argument. You can resolve the conflict when the person has calmed down.
  3. Boundaries: If you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to listen, set a boundary. Tell the person that you will be able to listen to them soon. Allow yourself that emotional space to decompress and process. Sometimes other people’s feelings and challenges remind us of past traumas.
  4. What is coming up for you? Sometimes big emotions can remind us of negative experiences that we have had. Perhaps someone crying brings up your own grief. Maybe anger reminds you of past abuse and trauma. If you are having strong reactions, take time to process these feelings. If you feel that past experiences keep returning to haunt you, a professional can help.
  5. Decompress every day. Find time to sit with your own feelings daily. Process what you need to process, and then relax. Decompressing can be any activity that takes your mind away from stress. For some people, that can be the gym, writing, art, dance, or other social activities.

To book a session, call the MindNLife Clinic at +852 2521 4668 or email

Category(s):Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Anxiety, Bereavement, Complex PTSD, Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Family Problems, Grief, Loss, Bereavement, Happiness, Mental Health in Asia, Mental Health Professions, Relaxation techniques, Self-Confidence, Stress Management

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Welcome! My passion is to help you find inner peace and emotional comfort within yourself and your relationships.

As social creatures, our relationships significantly shape our happiness, well-being, and sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced relationship-related traumas, which can leave us with emotional scars that require recovery.

Attachment traumas, such as divorce, break-ups, infidelity, neglect, and abuse, can be challenging. As an expert in attachment, loss, and trauma, I have spent many years studying how attachment styles can shift with loss and trauma.

I have seen how healthy relationships can lead to secure attachment and how insecure attachment can create turmoil in our lives. I aim to guide you toward cultivating healthy relationships with yourself, your children, your co-parent, and your romantic partner.

I can help you develop new attachment strategies that will allow you to form deeper connections and bonds with those around you. And, if you have children, I can also assist you in establishing secure attachments with both parents, which can be especially helpful in cases of separation or divorce.

I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at The University of Utah. From there, I moved to New York City, earning my Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. I then pursued my Doctorate in Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. I lived and worked in Hong Kong as a practicing Clinical Psychologist from 2010-2020. I reside in California and am pursuing my Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) at California Southern University. My training and qualifications include certifications in Brainspotting and High Conflict Coaching.

These tools, combined with my extensive knowledge and experience in the field, enable me to offer you the guidance and support you need to recover from past traumas and build healthy relationships.

My approach to therapy is empathetic, supportive, and tailored to your unique needs. Every person can grow, and thrive. I am committed to helping you achieve your goals. So, whether you are struggling with relationship issues, divorce, abuse, attachment traumas, or other challenges, I am here to help you find the peace and comfort you deserve.

Email me at or call the MindnLife Clinic at 852 2521 4668

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