How (and why) I learned to be a better hugger

I have always been an awkward hugger. In fact, my family has awarded me the prestigious title of “Most Awkward Hugger of All Time.” Whenever someone else comes in for a hug, I try to hide the fact that I’m cringing and end up performing the always weird, never flattering “side hug.”

What’s worse is that people seem to want to hug me.. . .a lot. People seem to think that I am the type of person that dishes out hugs, like it’s a hobby, that I enjoy being touched. And even though my hugs are distinctly disappointing, people always come back for more.

Since I know that hugging is supposed to be a wonderfully comforting, natural, and even intimate experience, I desperately wanted to change my feelings toward this subject. I wanted to become a better hugger and, in turn, to deal with the intimacy issues that I have. But, as with any major life change, it is important to start small, which is why I see tackling my fear of hugs to be a gateway toward dealing with the more significant issues at hand.

The first thing that I did to cope with my cringe-worthy hugging experience is: I decided to make a list of positive thoughts toward hugging/being close to another human being. I figured that if I can change my perspective on hugging, then I could also make the experience itself more pleasant. Here is what I came up with:

I learned that when you hug, your hearts should touch.

A few months ago, I watched this clip where Shailene Woodley discusses the art of hugging. Yup, I studied how to hug. Don’t judge. During this interview, Shailene mentions that when you hug on the left side of the body, it allows your hearts to touch.

I never realized this before, so hearing this completely blew my mind. I had always thought of hugging to be this bizarre, uncomfortable gesture that is smply meant to be an act of politeness. But, after watching this clip, I understand hugging to be a gesture that symbolizes mutual love, respect, and understanding. Hugging is more than a necessity of politeness. It has a deeper scope of meaning. Now, isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Hugging is an action of thankfulness and means more than empty words.

Sometimes, when people say “thank you,” it comes off as merely a formality, as if they do not actually feel thankful for whatever you have done for them.

As the old saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words.” Hugging takes effort— albeit a small amount of effort— but it is still effort that is being expelled in order for one person to show another person how they truly feel. In other words, hugging is a way to bring thoughts, words, and feelings into reality, to make them physical, tangible, and real.

The other day, I did someone a favor and, afterward, they gave me a hug. During this hug, I could actually FEEL that they were grateful for all that I had done, which made me feel pretty freakin’ great about myself.

Hugging shows that other people think you’re awesome.

I used to hate the fact that people always want to hug me, but now I see this as something that I should be grateful for. Since people see me as someone who they can hug, this means that they see me as someone who they can trust. They see me as someone who they can be close to, as someone who has their back.

Instead of cringing every time people hug me, I should view this as being a confidence booster. After all, people can choose to not hug me, but they don’t. And that makes me feel amazing.

A hug is a reminder that we are all human.

Being a human is hard. There are jobs to do, responsibilities to uphold, and people that we must look out for. Oh —and there are a ton of other thoughts, feelings, and ideas running through our heads at the speed of light.

As we are going through the ups and downs of life, there are always going to be times where we feel like we’re alone, where we feel as if we are the only ones that are depressed, homesick, and confused. Because of this, we can go our entire lives without feeling a kinship with humanity, without feeling as if we connect to our fellow human beings.

When we hug, this is a gesture of comfort that shows that we are not alone, that there is someone else out there who feels the same emotions and who thinks the same thoughts that we do. Hugging both literally and figuratively brings us closer together.

Hugging essentially means, “I feel a connection to you, you are not alone, and I am here for you.”

Main via, Shailene via, Boy Meets World via, Arrested Development via, Frozen via, Superman via

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