As I lay in bed last night, in pain from things I should not have been in pain from (long story), my husband reached over and began to rub my back. Nice, gentle rubs...not too hard because it might cause me more pain, not asking for anything more, but just a nice touch. A "hey, I'm here for you" - kind of touch. It actually made me feel a little better. I mean, the pain didn't go away, but it was comforting and relaxing to have that easy touch.
It made me thing about the power of touch and how we seem to have lost that in the US. Think about it, people don't just reach out and touch you, do they? Sure, you get a hand shake, and maybe even a business like hug...but a stroke on the arm, a real hug, a kiss on the cheek? No, not really. We value our personal space too much. Those kind of touches are a European thing, right?
Then, I thought about our children. It's natural for them to pat us on the cheek, to give us a kiss, to run up and give us a big squeezer hug! And I don't just mean the kids that belong to you. As a Girl Scout leader and a once school volunteer, I had kids giving me hugs, holding my hands, touching me all the time! I love it!
It's also a natural reaction for most of us to pick up a crying baby-to hug them and love on them and give them kisses. It's natural for us to rub their back, their hair, their face. It's natural for us to physically comfort them when they get hurt. Think about it...how many boo-boo's have you kissed??
With children we don't just stand back and say "buck up, kid. You'll be alright!". No. We offer them the comfort of our touch. So why are we so uncomfortable doing that with adults? We could get into trouble hugging someone else's kid, but we often do it anyway. We can be perceived a very nasty way when we touch a child not ours, but often our natural inclination is to do it anyway. So, what holds us back with adults??
I don't honestly know the answer. I know I enjoy the physical touch of other people. I know it comforts me when my girlfriend gives me a hug on a bad day. I know when I'm sad or hurt and someone rubs my back or shoulder I don't feel quite so alone I the world. I'm betting most people feel the same way.
I decided quite a while ago that I would give in to the need to hug people, touch people and be near people when I felt that..."hey, this person needs comfort" or "hey, this person could use a little love" or even "hey, let's show a person just how much we care, are excited, ect.". I won't lie...it puts some backs up. I get weird looks sometimes. Most of the time, though, it's almost a relief, on my part and theirs, that someone expressed a little human comfort in the form of a touch.
So, I encourage you today...give someone a hug. Touch them on the shoulder. Remind someone that they are not alone. Step out of your personal space bubble, into someone else's, and give some comfort and love. It's weird and awkward at first...but you'll get used to it eventually. And you never know whose life you might change!