How do you strike that perfect balance of holding space, not judging and helping?

Hi Brooke,

I think you are masterful at the work you do and I hope to one day be able to serve my coaching clients the way you have me and so many other in SCS 🙂

I am struggling with my thoughts around my ability to help a friend with her relationship situation and when I try to take a few steps back and consider how I could respond if she were a paying client, I don’t know if I’d be able to do or feel anything different. I believe your coaching is so effective because you strike such a great balance of being able to coach and hold space, but also being very direct in your coaching and getting your clients to see things differently while also not being judgmental. How can I do this for my friend?

For some history…she is a ridiculously fantastic human being with the biggest heart. I think I initially fell in love with her because she is a single mom with 2 boys that remind me of my brother and I and it’s given me an opportunity to see what it must have been like for my mom to care for us all alone. I think my mom did a damn good job (proud daughter over here!) and I feel so much pride and admiration and compassion for what my friend is going through and think she’s a total rockstar in the way she is parenting those kids and also trying to be a woman and an employee and a human in this crazy world all at the same time.

But she struggles when it comes to relationships. She wants one and knows she’s amazing but picks men who can’t give her what she needs or who let her down, don’t show up, can’t/won’t commit – the whole deal. She is currently falling for one of her good friends right now (he has no job, which was a concern for her because she has 2 boys and wants stability) and after she finally slept with him, he said he just wants to be friends and that she needs to stop liking him in order for them to remain friends.

She says she is disappointed by the situation and is “fine with it” and asks for my advice weekly. I always ask her what it is she wants and to put herself first. She says she wants to be okay with it but that she thinks he’s just scared or what if she gets into a relationship with someone else and then he wants her back? I tell her that she is waiting to see what he will do to decide how she is going to respond. I tell her that she needs to decide first how she wants to feel and how she wants to show up in a relationship and then commit to that no matter what he does. She says it’s great advice and thanks me and says she feels so much better and lighter.

And then a day or so later she is sending me screen shots of text messages she’s sent to him asking him to come over, or asking me to text him and ask if he wants all of us to come meet him wherever he is. He always responds ambivalently with “I don’t care”, “up to you”, “fine, but you can’t get jealous” and then she gets upset and says she’s confused by him.

While I don’t like it (and I realize that’s my own issue), I do believe he is being very clear (a change from many of the men I’ve encountered as a single 30-something) and I find it so challenging to watch her be in pain when I know she doesn’t have to choose this.

So my questions are..
1) How do I support her when she asks for my advice/help/complains to me? Is there anything else I should be doing?
2) What if I had a paying client in this situation? Would you advise me to do anything differently?

Many thanks!