On the Tricky Matter of Choice in Healing

Nicole Hartley Bradford
3 min readDec 30, 2021


Finding people who can hold space for authentic healing, and figuring out how to gain access to them, while you are living with patterns that need healing in the first place can be hard, that’s a fact.

Spaces that are more readily available can (in my experience) more often than not, be held by people with less skill and capacity than I’d hope to find.

The system of systems doesn’t have a lot of skill in it (in my opinion)… yet.

Sometimes people who come to well-held spaces can’t make great use of them because they won’t let themselves feel, and they sometimes blame the space holder when that happens. (I know, I’ve done it, and I have had it happen as a space holder, too.)

It’s just so painful sometimes to feel.

In these cases, the person might stay in their heads telling the stories of how impossible it all is.

In such cases, from what I can tell, it takes a highly advanced space holder to stay with the person and hold space for their long, slow process. I’ve seen it take decades before a person is really ready, willing and able to feel the feelings that make healing possible. (This, too, was me).

It helps a lot to have a space holder who is actually 100% cool with having the most ugly kinds of emotion happening, and who can say the kinds of things that will work. Such people are rare.

Much of the world, (including space holders and those who need space held for them), are invested in numbing: avoiding feeling. This can be happening in ways they may not even realize they are doing, so no wonder they can’t always catch it.

There are heaps of strategies for numbing, which all of us unconsciously originally chose to use, in probably hundreds of past moments, as babies/kids.

Effective space holding was even more rare then than it is now.

This means that what is definitaively a choice is often unchooseable until some major grieving has been held space for. A choice is still a choice, even if someone cannot make it.

Those who can make the switch, for exapmle, from unconsciously choosing to disconnect, to consciously choosing to connect, can make it.

Those who cannot can’t, again (as far as I can see), because they have so much fear, sadness and anger mixed and tied up inside about losing connection in the first place, that they can’t begin to imagine …let alone risk…feeling it…..and healing it.

They have become so convinced by life that feeling means death, or more danger than they can dare face. No wonder they might continue to unconscuously choose disconnection.

It’s not their fault. Still, the person in question is the only one who can do the feeling.

No one can do that part for us.

A highly skilled accessible space holder is probably required to bring the possibility of feeling into a space for the kind of person who is convinced that feeling is impossible.

The good news I have here is that more and more people are doing the work it takes to become such skilled space holders.

It’s the same work as it takes to heal. It involves finding out that it IS possible to feel even the most intense and ugly feelings.

It’s not rocket science, but it hurts like death and there’s always further to go.

Again, this is my opinion from my experience. Though so far I’ve not met anyone who holds space super effectively who has a different opinion.



Nicole Hartley Bradford

Nicole is a catalyst on the “Help Gaia’s Risky Human Experiment Succeed” Team.