Good Touch Bad TouchBy Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 31, 2006
Have you ever thought about how being a loving adult involves choosing the touch that your little one receives from the people in your life? Have you thought about what kind of touch your inner child is receiving from you? Phyllis Stein tells us what she has learned about the importance of loving touch.
Part of what parents are encouraged to teach their children these days is the difference between "good touch" and "bad touch," where bad touch means inappropriate sexual touching. I have realized that good touch and touch that is not good has a much deeper meaning than this. A lot of us, myself included, never had any truly good touch when we were growing up. Maybe we were held as babies, although many of us were not, but what we did not get, and we really needed, is touch that came from parents who loved themselves and whose bodies were filled with the energy of spirit. We did not get touched by people who understood that our bodies are supposed to experience pleasure and who took loving pleasure in touching us. Many of us had parents who found taking care of us something of a burden. So many of us experienced touching that was mechanical or stiff, touch without real connection or touch that was invasive and did not respect our boundaries. What I realized is that, because we never ever got a chance to experience truly good touch, we learned to accept not-so-good touch as normal. Some of us, as I did, may have had a dim sense that something was not quite right. Often, we assumed that it was because there was something wrong with us.
Then we grew up. And as adults, we recreated this in our intimate relationships. At least I did. The men my wounded self chose gave to get. They would hold me and touch me, in order to stay on my good side and usually in order to get sex. I don't remember anyone touching me for the sheer joy of touching me, wanting nothing in return. I never found that strange. I actually believed that I always had to give something back. I had reproduced what I had growing up, without realizing that I had any other choice.
Finally I did experience someone touching me for the sheer pleasure (to them) of it. All I needed to do was to receive them and allow myself to be received. Giving me the pleasure of simple touch was not a burden, it was a joy that paid its own way. I owed them nothing. Suddenly, I understood what good touch really was, and I knew that I deserved to have it. In Inner Bonding we learn to be the loving parents that we never had. Once I had access to the energy of good touch, I could to give that to my little girl too, holding her and taking total pleasure in her wonderful little body-in sharing the good feelings with her.
Keeping our inner child safe and healthy is the job of the loving adult. We take the best care of ourselves that we can, giving our child good food, rest, exercise, fun and, most of all, our loving connection with spirit. We avoid junk food and other harmful things. We find people to share love with. Now that I understand what good touch is, I understand that part of my job as a loving adult is to not subject her to bad touch. I am more conscious of how I touch myself. I seek hugs from people with good touch. I am not in an intimate relationship now, but I can confidently promise my little girl that we will not be intimate with any man unless we can share good touch with him.
So, trying paying attention to the energy of the touch that you share with you child when you are holding him or her as part of the Inner Bonding process or even when you take a shower. Pay attention to your deep need for the pleasure of loving touch. Teach your child what good touch really is and show him or her, by your actions, that he or she deserves it. From that place of understanding, maybe you can help bring love to the planet by touching others and helping them begin to heal by experiencing what truly good touch feels like.
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Today, notice what you do when pain comes up - especially the pain of loneliness and heartache when someone is being unloving with you. Do you get irritated, angry or judgmental? Do you resist or withdraw? Do you people-please and give yourself up? Do you numb out with food or other substances, or with activities such as TV? Notice the ways you might be avoiding your feelings rather than compassionately attending to them.
By Dr. Margaret Paul