A few days ago I was with a young woman whose plate is very full with raising a daughter, working full time and attending college. As we visited, I was impressed by her goals for herself, one of which is learning to hug.
I was somewhat taken aback by this as hugs are among my favorite things both in terms of giving and receiving. How could anyone not like a hug, but then I remembered our last exchange student who was from Thailand. No sooner had she arrived in our house than I gave her a hug thinking it would be a warm welcome. Putting my arms around her, I felt her stiffen and back away. Hugs were just not natural to her.
As days passed, I tried to find different ways to show her welcoming affection. Sometimes it was with a gentle touch, sometimes it was with a word or two. Then, one evening she came into the kitchen where I was preparing dinner and shyly put her arms around me saying she thought she’d like to hug, a totally new experience for her. That was all it took for us to learn to give and receive daily hugs.
For the young woman with whom I was visiting, hugs had not been something shared in her early relationships, and she admitted that the physical closeness was a bit uncomfortable for her. In a psychology class, she has heard that when hugging is unnatural, trying it with a comfortable person and holding the hug to an eleven count is a way to begin. When we eventually stood to say good bye, you can guess what we did. Yep, hugged and laughed while we counted to eleven. I don’t know when a hug ever felt so good!
Now, what is funny about this whole experience is that when I got home and began more of the decluttering process, look what was found in a daughter’s cabinet. What a wonderful little book this is, and later I’m going to share with you some things to know about hugs. In the meantime, practice giving and receiving them and relish their joy.
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