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A Hug Could Save Your Life



“I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.”

~ Ann Hood


Good Morning My Confidants!


I hope this finds you happy and well!


I am sending you (((HUGS))) ! Really strong feel-good hugs!


I like a good hug. And I mean that. A good hug.


Ever notice people hug in all kinds of different ways?


For some it’s this leaden, stiff, awkward thing that makes you wish you’d played Candy Crush or read a book instead. They don't really hug you. It's as if you hugged a bronze statue. It almost hurts. It's one thing if the person has something against you and they aren't ready to forgive you or deal with whatever their problem is. I am talking about the person that always hugs that way.


For some people it’s that sort of a third of a hug with one, two, pats on the back (what is that about?) and then they step back. The hug is done.


These often leave me bewildered. Were they only hugging me because social expectations dictated that they should? I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable hugging me. It's why, when I go to hug someone, I always ask if it's okay first. A third of a hug is not better than nothing.


For some it’s like that frat boy hug-thing. You know where they fling themselves at each other and bounce off back again?


For some it’s sort of sideways hug, their front never touches yours. It a leaning in, bending at the waist, and then dos-à-dosing away again.


And if a person has issues, there are legitimate issues, and they just can't bring themselves to be that intimate with another person. They experience severe aversion to being touched, or they have low self-confidence and/or social anxiety, or they have a poor sense of self, low self-esteem, and body issues, or they have unusual fears or past experiences with negative touch, or they were not hugged by their parents often as children. It is unknown why some people avoid hugs.*


I don't understand why everyone doesn't like my kind of hugs. But then I also don't understand how everyone, simply everyone, doesn't think that Timothée Chalamet or Bradley Cooper or Chris Hemsworth are some of the sexiest men on the planet! LOL!


But I don't have to understand. I only have to accept. I only have to understand that things that are different from the way I prefer them are real, and not just someone trying to be deliberately difficult. I really cannot stand it when people post photos of tarantulas or their wounds on Facebook. These kinds of photos really cause me problems. I don't appreciate when people belittle the fact that I have these problems and tell me that I "shouldn't" feel the way I do. To me, those are two pretty darned common things for people to feel an aversion for, and it be pretty natural not to post them except as something down in comments where you can look at the photos if you want to see them (and therefor the poster gets to share them, and they should be able to share them) but you don't have to see them if you don't want to.


The comment of "You don't have to look! Just scroll on by!" is unthinking, unkind, and rude. And I can't just "scroll on by." The damage has been DONE! I am innocently scrolling past pictures of children or kittens or a request from prayer or a meme (etc, etc) and then BAM! I have seen, in full technicolor blood or gore or dozens of stitches or a creep crawly. I have nearly passed out. And it is no one's right to tell me (or anyone) that I/we need to "get over it."


And then there is the common reply of, "Well, you don't have to follow the person!!!" Another comment that is unthinking, unkind, and rude. Because 999% of the time that person doesn't normally post such pictures. Unfollowing them means you miss the social interaction with them most of the time.


All of this to saybecause I did have a point before I went off on one of my frequent tangentsis that people who don't want to hug shouldn't have to hug and they shouldn't be told "You need to get over that!" And even worse, "Have you thought of therapy?"


But that being said....


I, Ben, love a good hug and giving a good hug.


I’m talking about a real hug.


I will always ask you if I can hug you first, and then this is the way that I hug.


I approach a person with my arms outstretched, walk into their arms. I lean into them so our chests–-and most importantly, our hearts–meet. I close my eyes. I hug strongly. I breath deep. I hold it in. I hold them. Ten seconds at least. I like to go for twenty.


Because something happens then. Something magick. Something powerful. Guards and walls come down, if only for a few seconds. Heart messages are passed. Energy–often healing energy–is exchanged.


It is really wonderful when a person triesnot hard, simply doing what they always doto pull back after a one-second hug, and then says something like, "Oh! Okay." And then allows it...and then best of all...sighs and hugs back. I have had so many people step back with tears in their eyes and thank me.


Hugs are healthy.


Hugs can boost your happiness, reduce stress, improve your health, and give you a stronger sense of belonging. Yes, all this from one simple hug. A good hug is the fastest way for you to get oxytocin flowing in your body. Even hugging yourself will do the trick! Oxytocin, also known as the “love drug,” calms your nervous system down and boosts your positivity. This in turn lowers your blood pressure, making you feel less anxious and more relaxed. It reduces the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, enabling you to stay more focused and get better quality sleep. It naturally boosts your positive emotions and increases the release of other feel-good hormones, like serotonin,** as well as dopamine.


Dopamine can really help a person, lack there of can cause significant damage. For example, low dopamine levels also play a role in the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s as well as mood disorders such as depression. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine. A 10-second hug a day can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions in your body that can significantly improve your health. According to one study, this includes lower risk of heart disease and a boost to your immune system, with these two things, a person is able to fight infections, ease depression, fight fatigue, and reduce stress.***


All of which make you feel more upbeat and empowered.


So, the next time you go to hug someone, try to really go for it.


Really hug them. Let your hearts fall into rhythm.


It’s a powerful thing! And I am so grateful for hugs!


HUGS,

B.G. "Gentle Ben" Thomas



Photograph by Dan Skinner ~ used by permission



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15 Comments


Guest
Feb 23

My husband and I hug often, and he makes sure I give the full hug with a goodly amount of time in the clutch.

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I love this!

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From Marj: I miss physical contact. Since I lost my beloved Sven in 2015, I relied on my cat Crikey to curl up with me at night, under the covers, against my chest, purring. It is very hard to be depressed when you are being purred. But Crikey died May 15, 2023 (cancer!) and since then, I am having trouble getting to sleep at night. The other cats sleep on the bed but it isn't the same.

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(((HUGGING))) you tight tight tight

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When I moved here for my job in 2001, I moved away from a culture where I got lots of hugs to one where no one ever touched me. It was traumatic. I got used to it eventually but I do miss hugs. Sometimes it can be months between even causal hugs.

One reason to add to why some people do side-hugs - women do not want to invite sexual advances by pressing their fronts to other people's fronts. And lots of men have been taught to do side-hugs to avoid accusations of sexual harassment. The A-frame hug, the side-hug, and the other non-frontal hugs are used to avoid sexual connotations. And that is sad, that we (as a society)…

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This is sad, and it breaks my heart. Please, the next time we see each other (it has been a long time) I will hug you fiercely!

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Guest
Feb 21

My friend Tim gives the best hugs. He has long arms and they feel as if they wrap all around you. I grew up in a family that didn’t hug, but I married a Sicilian, so I appreciate hugs now. I try to give Tim Hugs whenever I can. Hugs really can be magical.

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I love this!

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Guest
Feb 21

A hug is theraputic, especially from a friend. A hug a day keeps the Doctor away!😁

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SO TRUE!

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