TOUCH AND AFFECTION

by Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

            We need to touch and be touched. The body's skin needs and hungers for contact. Since touch is the earliest sense to develop in the human embryo, it becomes a major source of physical nourishment throughout our lifetime. When holding and hugging a loved one, contentment soars and the senses open up. Breathing becomes deeper and clearer. When touching drives are satisfied, the day is less likely to be haphazard and full of upsets.

            Humans, from birth to old age, need intimate physical contact. However, everything in our society is geared towards mechanization, achievement, efficiency and individuation. Jumping out of bed in the morning, you rush the kids off to school and then work to exhaustion for the rest of the day. Where is the time for slow and easy affection ... the touching, holding and hugging?

            American culture loves expediency. Rushing here and there, you try to achieve and/or meet some deadline. Where is the time for moments of pure pleasure and affection? Don't you just love to touch your kids, your mate? Doesn't it give you great pleasure? Most of all, doesn't it relieve those self-imposed pressures and tensions?

            Life was not meant to be spent struggling to get what you don't have. Right now you have the capacity to stop the rushing, the longing and the worrying. Start by resting in bed with your partner and your youngsters. Touch, squeeze, and hug them. Stroke their bodies. Smell their skins. Kiss their bodies. Feel good. You deserve it. Get out of your head. Drop the worries and the problems. You have the control and the potential to be happy.

            Listen to your children, your mate. Think about what it is that they need from you. Be willing to give yourself fully to them. They need you. Stop whining and complaining about what you don't have. The world is not a perfect place and there is no absolutely perfect situation. So why eat your heart out if you don't fulfill some dream. You act as if you are being deprived and that conditions are not going in your favor. SO?!!!  Why act as if there is a catastrophe when there really isn't. You will probably always have conflicting, competing needs. So, tough!! Life is rough. But you can enjoy what you already have ... the capacity to love and share your affection. It is never too late to learn the basics of touching, hugging and caressing all over again.

            Touch, hold, caress and kiss. Smile and tell those closest to you, "I love you". Watch them smile and light up. You've made their day and your own. You're a human being and humans need each other. Even animals are naturally affectionate towards one another. For example, a good part of chimpanzees' time is spent in grooming one other. This is the way that they fulfill their affectional needs. Remember how much you needed your mother and father to pick you up and hold you affectionately?

            If one or both parents did not spend enough time holding and hugging you, then you may have unexpressed pain. Give yourself permission to feel and experience that pain. Your affectional needs will be brought up to date and that will help create more awareness about the needs of those close to you. If a loved one has not been told how you feel towards him/her, practice now while reading this. Say "I love you" ten times and include their name each time. From now on, every day could be an affectional day. So, kick back, say "I love you" and enjoy the rewards.