You are allowed to take up space and others are also allowed to take up space. Others taking up space does not diminish the space you are allowed to take up, but we should make sure we are making room for others.
Society often makes us feel that we are constantly competing against others. Competing to be the most attractive, the smartest, the most accomplished. But seeing life as a solo event where you are trying to get to an imaginary top is no way to exist.
One of the most important things we as humans can do is to allow ourselves to take up space and help others feel comfortable taking up their own space. This goes beyond just physical space to taking up time for ourselves and others to be heard.
By creating safe and inviting environments you are more comfortable to be yourself and others are as well. We should not feel guilty for being who we are and we can form stronger bonds with others if they are based on our true selves.
Take up space physically
Allow yourself to take up the space it needs to exist in the world.
If we are standing at the water fountain filling up our bottle and see the head of the company waiting, we may feel a need to hurry or apologize for taking too long. At times we may feel that our worth is dependent on our job title or perceived place in society. That is complete bullshit. You are allowed to take up time and space just as much as anyone else.
You do not need to hurry through life so that others can take their time. You are allowed to take the time that you need.
This is not to say it is easy to let ourselves feel comfortable taking up space. There may be many reasons why we feel others are more deserving and worthy than us. Spending time looking inward to understand your emotions and where your actions come from can help you get to the heart of the matter.
It can take time to feel comfortable allowing yourself to take up space and that’s OK. Don’t rush yourself but keep working on ways to let your body exist as it is meant to exist.
What You Can Do
Start working on not apologizing for the fact that you exist. It can be tempting to say sorry even for things that are out of your control.
We may also apologize simply because we want to say something and not just wait next to someone in silence. Working towards being more comfortable with silence can lessen the pull of filling that time with an apology.
Take up space emotionally
Allow your emotions out into the world, do not feel that you should hide them or be ashamed of feeling.
You are allowed to have feelings and emotions that you do not understand, that’s part of being human. You do not need to understand your emotions for them to be valid.
As a society we need to normalize people having and showing emotions. We may feel that showing emotions makes us look weak or incapable and that others see us as a burden. But when we show our emotions we allow ourselves the freedom to feel what we feel. It means we are not trying to diminish ourselves to fit what we think others want from us.
Showing emotions also helps others to understand that they too can show emotions. When we are able to be strong and unashamedly ourselves, we can help others do the same.
What You Can Do
Start by getting in touch with your emotions to better understand what you are feeling, when, and why. Learn to let yourself be honest with how you are feeling. When you don’t know exactly what you are feeling, take some time to try and figure it out.
Finding creative and personal ways to express your emotions can make it easier. It can be talking things through with someone you trust, writing down your thoughts and feelings, or even making a collage that represents your emotions.
Give yourself the freedom to feel whatever it is you feel. Recognize that not every feeling is positive, but every feeling is real and should be acknowledged.
Take up space with your voice
Your voice, thoughts, ideas, and questions are important. You have unique viewpoints and experiences which deserve to be heard.
We may feel that what we have to share is not important or new or helpful so we don’t speak up, but your voice is valid.
If we are sitting in a meeting with others at work we may have something to say but be worried to bring it up. We can convince ourselves that if it was a useful thought someone else would have said it. We do not give ourselves enough credit. We spend too much of our time thinking how others will perceive us and not enough time thinking what we need and what we can contribute.
Asking questions is one of the best ways for us to learn. It is not always easy to start asking questions but once you do it opens the doors to all kinds of knowledge and experiences. Not feeling that we have to know everything can be a freeing feeling.
What You Can Do
Get comfortable with your own thoughts.
This may mean finding a friend or family member to talk to or it could be writing down your thoughts and questions. If speaking aloud is hard for you, try asking questions in emails or online.
Find something you are genuinely interested in and want to know more about. You can share your experiences with others and ask questions. You may be more comfortable speaking up if you find others than share a similar interest or hobby.
Being able to speak up in a comfortable environment can be a helpful bridge to speaking up in other environments.
Make space for others physically
It is important for us to allow our own bodies to be comfortable and we should help others do the same.
Making physical space for others means helping them find a comfortable way to exist, feel included, and not feel the need to push their boundaries of comfort.
Provide people with a space where they feel comfortable being themselves. A place where they don’t feel they need to live up to a standard and will not let anyone down by not fitting a predetermined mold. Allow others to exist in the way they want to, not in the way you want them to.
Our own insecurities may make us want to push others away or not include them. We must think of how this would affect us and how it would make us feel. We should work to not crowd others and make them feel that they are an inconvenience. The reasons for our insecurities may be deep-rooted and complex and we should make a conscious effort to understand those reasons.
What You Can Do
Be more in tune with body language to notice when someone is feeling uncomfortable, nervous, or stressed. Being more observant of those around us can help gauge their level of comfort.
Be willing to include others and help them find a way for them to be comfortable. Just reaching out and making an effort can go a long way to helping others exist more comfortably.
Make space for others emotionally
We do not have to understand other’s emotions to be there for those who need us.
We should to work to not make others feel guilty or strange for having emotions and feelings. We should be accepting and be there for others when they want to talk about how they feel.
When someone around us is showing a strong emotion we may not know what to do. If we are in a public environment we may even feel uncomfortable. We do not need to know exactly what to do to but we should do our best to not let that person feel alone.
What You Can Do
Even when you do not know what to do and do not know what the other person needs, you can always listen.
When people are having strong emotions they may not fully be able to process what they are feeling. They may not even know what they need and are not looking for answers.
The simple act of being physically present with someone and giving them the time they need to talk and process can go a long way.
Make space for other’s voices
As we work towards having our own voice heard, let us also help others find their voice.
Practice listening, lifting up other’s ideas, and taking in information from others who have lived different lives than you. We can easily get caught up in our own lives but we need to make room for others to live their lives as well.
When you share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences, make sure to invite others to share theirs as well. We are better people when we listen to and learn from others.
Give others the space to speak so we can amplify their voices and not speak for them.
What You Can Do
Work to create a safe place for others to feel heard. Give others the opportunity to share if they are comfortable.
When others are speaking work to listen to their words and not just wait your turn to speak. We can easily get excited and want to share ideas or ask questions, but try to catch yourself and slow down.
Do not rush others to get their point across or get to the end of their story. Their time and voice is just as important as yours, help others understand that.