70-year-old Mildred is in a nursing home. She is frail with several health issues including weak knees. She longs for human connection, conversation, touch and a good hug. Her two children have their own lives and visits her when they can. The best part of her day is the time she spends with her personal support worker who gives her a big hug when she comes in, brings a few treats and enjoy a cup of tea with her. Mildred sometimes thinks of all the rules and personal boundaries she set in her younger and fuller life. She looks back and can see where those boundaries protected her but also closed her heart towards genuinely getting to know other people. Those who seldom visit, do it out of obligation and there are so few memories she has of herself “feeling” happy and feeling that she lived purposefully.
How do we let people in and out of our lives? How do we keep people in our lives?
Is it something we plan? Is it something destined to be the way it is?
Does it come with a price? Are our standards too high or too low? How do we decide who is worthy of our time and friendship?
Recently, I reached out to hug someone and suddenly held back.
For a split second, I reminded myself that this may not be an appropriate behaviour due to policies around workplace harassment and what may be considered professional or not. It is a debate I have had over the last couple of years with myself and with different people because I like hugging by nature and hugging to me means these simple things:
– a greeting (like three kisses in the French culture)
– an alternative to a handshake (I don’t like to shake hands – I think it is formal and creates distance)
– an expression of affection
– expression of collaboration or partnership
Until recent years, I never questioned “hugging.” I attract hugs and I give hugs. I hug my children, I hug my colleagues, I hug business partners and I have hugged many, many strangers whom I have seen or spoken to for brief moments like a woman I met today at a workshop. Somehow, people end up in my arms or I end up in their arms – it happens so naturally that I don’t think about it. Hugging connects me to others and it has always left a good feeling in my heart.
Why did I have to think twice about giving this hug?
Something had created doubt in my mind as to whether I could trust this person or situation and whether it was the right thing to do. I no longer felt safe. The authenticity and purity of giving a hug just for the sake of giving a hug vanished into thin air. As soon as the purity came out of the intention, I could no longer extend myself in the same way. The energy field changed and so did my body language. Another person put it quite bluntly and said “If you have to think too much to do something, it is probably not the best thing to do.”
Later that afternoon, I met two important people whom I do business with, and upon arrival I was received with open arms. I did not hold back and there was nothing to think about. Why not? My simple conclusion is that we all carried that same energy and intention that invited partnership and collaboration with an added feeling of friendship and trust. There is no greater feeling than this… when all flows seamlessly, respectfully and the intentions are set for the highest good of all concerned. Even if there is a disagreement, it feels safe.
Human emotions are complex and can be understood or misunderstood in so many ways. I think of Mildred and I wonder how many of us get sucked into living by the rules to the extreme that we can no longer justify our existence or connect with others in a heart-felt way. Society has a responsibility to protect its citizens by having law and order and putting policies in place to protect vulnerable groups. Children learn so many rules which are necessary to protect them – except that I believe they are losing their instinct to listen to their gut feeling. We follow rules but rules are not always in alignment with our personal values or our soul purpose.
To hug or not to hug?
To be or not to be?
What I know for sure is that when we respond authentically to people and situations, we don’t need so many rules. “Like attracts like” and huggers will always find huggers and non-huggers will find non-huggers. A genuine, heartfelt hug, soothes and brings lightness and care into our lives. If you don’t have to think about it, it is probably the right thing to do. If you have to think too much…let it go…you don’t have to do what you don’t want to .
LookGood!!!FeelGood!!! Trust your instinct to give a hug… and when you do, hug for a few extra seconds and think how much you value the person whom you are hugging.