Did you know just how important it is for humans to receive physical touch? Studies have repeatedly shown that children, when denied consistent physical touch cannot survive and thrive in life. It has been proven time and time again that the need for physical touch in infant’s early years is paramount to their physical and emotional health. An infant craves physical touch and emotional connection as much as he or she requires food and air to breathe.
I have memories of my mom taking me out shopping when I was very young. My mother was very friendly and seemed to engage with everyone on a personal level. I have a vision of standing in the grocery line at the store while the cashier discussed her personal life with my mom. I found all of this very strange, but the part I found to be the strangest of all was my mother’s need to touch people when she talked to them. My mother had the need to touch your arm or hand when engaged in conversation with you. This embarrassed me to no end. I would stand there impatiently hoping she would “release them” so we could leave. Little did I know that my mother was truly connecting with people and giving people what they needed with words and her touch.
In the early days training to become a Mental Health Therapist, one of my first clients was a young couple. They had just miscarried their 6-month-old baby the day before the appointment. They were distraught and in much pain. With no training manual to handle this situation, I sensed the right thing to do was to just listen. After the two of them shared and cried throughout the entire session, I had to inform them that their time was over. They got up to leave, exhausted and spent. Again, I went with my instincts and embraced the two of them before they left the room. They seemed grateful for my hug and went on their way. For months afterward, I deliberated whether I had done the right thing. That was not something that was accepted in our training and could be seen as unprofessional.
As I look back on that, I understand my need to conform to what was acceptable behavior in the workplace. However, my instincts were spot on in that situation. The embrace was healing for the two of them. Since then, my belief in the power of touch has grown ten fold. I consistently use this in my work with clients to convey needed comfort, support and acceptance.
So girlfriend, the question for you is, do you use touch in your daily conversation to nonverbally communicate your feelings? Did you know that human touch slows your heart rate, decreases blood pressure and strengthens the immune system? It decreases anxiety by releasing endorphins in the body, the feel good hormones. I guess you could say that human touch can be some pretty powerful medicine.
Looking back, I believe that my Mom was really on to something with her “touching” that I found so uncomfortable at a young age. Now that I think of it, I believe that my mom has left her legacy. I now find it difficult to have a conversation with someone without touching their arm or hand. Thanks Mom!