The Power of Genuine HugsBy Dr. Margaret Paul
March 01, 2021
Are you aware of the difference between hugs that heal and hugs that are draining or invasive?
There are hugs…and there are hugs. In other words, there are genuine loving and giving hugs, and there are needy hugs and inappropriately sexual hugs. There is a world of difference between these.
While I knew this as a child – as most children do – I didn't have words for the difference. I just knew that I loved hugging and being hugged by some people and I hated being hugged by others. Loving hugs felt nurturing and safe to me, while needy and sexual hugs felt yucky.
My mother's hugs never felt good to me. My mother was narcissistic, and her hugs were needy. When she hugged me – which fortunately wasn't very often, I felt like the life was being sucked right out of me. My mother was never a person I would go to for love or comfort.
Until I was twelve, my father's hugs were wonderful – filled with love and nurturing. I felt so safe in the arms of my father. All that changed when I was twelve and my father became sexually abusive, which, of course, meant that he was no longer safe for me. I was confused and scared and crushed to no longer be able to go to my father for hugs. I protected myself by staying away from him as much as I could.
I'm a very affectionate person, and by the time I started dating I was so starved for hugs that I often found myself in difficult situations. What I wanted was loving and caring hugs but, what I mostly got was needy and/or sexual hugs from the boys I dated. It took me many more years before I could articulate the energetic difference between loving, healing, nurturing hugs, and needy or inappropriately sexual hugs.
When a person is abandoning themselves in various ways, they create an emptiness inside. The emptiness is like a vacuum trying to suck the love out of others – trying to get the love that they are not giving to themselves.
While the hugger might have a warm smile on his or her face, the energy of a needy hug doesn't feel good. If you tune into the energy and feeling of it, you will know instantly that the person hugging you is trying to take from you rather than give to you or share with you.
Before I understood this, I allowed myself to be taken from and it felt awful. Now I deal with this totally differently. I understand that the pull is from the other person’s abandoned little child and I feel compassion for that child. Instead of allowing myself to be taken from, I generally freely give my love to that child. This feels much better to me than pulling away, and when I decide to give my love to someone, I don't end up feeling used. I even reached a place where I was able to hug my mother and give her needy little girl my love.
Inappropriately Sexual Hugs
There is also a neediness in inappropriately sexual hugs. The hugger is trying to get filled through sexual energy. I experience this with many of the men I meet, but fortunately not all of them. Occasionally, I meet a man who hugs from his heart full of love. What a gift it is to be hugged by a truly loving man – as well as by a truly loving woman! Perhaps this is why many women love to have gay men as friends – they don't hug women with sexual energy!
There is much healing power in loving hugs. When two people hug each other with hearts full of love, the energy that passes between them is a healing energy.
I believe we all need these loving hugs - frequently. I encourage you to seek them in your life – with a partner, a friend, a child or a relative. Loving, healing hugs are a balm for the soul. (Of course, be careful during COVID that both of you are safe to hug.)
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. You cannot put a lid on pain without putting a lid on your joy as well. Are you opting for the flatness of the illusion of safety, or are you willing to experience both the lows and the highs of life? Today, cry and laugh with your whole heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul