I am a hugger, but I haven’t always been. I grew up in a great family, but we simply didn’t hug very much. As the years went on and I had my own family, I became a hugger. I wanted my kids to find peace and safety within our home and let them know they always had a place in my arms to get away from what was bothering them. I started doing this with my siblings and parents as well. It was awkward at first, no one quite knew what to do with a hug. Over time they came to expect I was going to give them a hug, and something beautiful started to happen, “walls” started to come down and conversations about the very action I was doing began to be talked about.
Why was hugging so awkward to us? Was it simply because we hadn’t grown up doing it, perhaps that had something to do with it. However, as I have reflected on this, it has made me realize that on a deeper level, we had all become very independent people taking on whatever came at us. While it isn’t bad to be responsible and dependable, and different than being self-reliant, it is not healthy to think we don’t need each other.
In accepting or receiving a hug, we began to find relief. Camille N. Johnson defined relief as, “the removal or lightening of something painful, troubling, or burdensome, or the strength to endure it. It refers to a person who takes the place of another. It is the legal correction of a wrong.”
Here is an experiment you can try; give a quick hug to someone. Now, give an 8 second hug. Research has shown that hugging for 8 seconds or more releases oxytocin, a hormone that fights infection, boosts your immune system, eases depression, and releases cortisol in your body which lowers your blood pressure. Did you feel a difference? How did the other person receive your hug?
Receiving is something I have been pondering on quite a bit recently. I am recognizing that giving and doing brings me joy, but I am not always a good receiver. I am good at giving hugs to help others, but am I taking the opportunity to receive their hug back, or am I focused on what they needed? If I take the time to receive their hug, it will be beneficial for both of us. In not receiving what they have to offer, I am rejecting the very thing I am trying to give to others.
We live in a society where everything is fast paced, working, buying, and doing. Do we leave room to receive when we need it? Or even more when we think we don’t need it? Do we get busy trying to help others all the while thinking we can take care of all that we have going on as well and that we don’t need help? Why don’t we take the opportunity to receive what others are offering? We have been taught it is good, even important to be independent, which gives us the ability to care for ourselves, emotionally, physically, or financially, which is good.
However, is there a line that we have crossed that too much independence has left us emotionally, physically, or financially alone? Being too independent can keep us from cultivating meaningful relationships, having meaningful conversations, or just having meaningful and engaging experiences. How do we change our mindset to be open to receiving what others have to offer?
People love to share and to help. When someone asks us if we need anything, are we honest, or do we simply say “no”? Accepting help from others, or accepting what they have to offer, will begin to enrich our lives in ways that we have not yet experienced.
Think of sports. Football, for example, has a position called “receiver”. While the quarterback in football is often celebrated as the head of the team, good receivers are necessary for any quarterback or football team to do well. People enjoy watching a team where teammates support other teammates and receive from their teammates much more than they enjoy watching one team member try to dominate in everything.
Receiving creates connections with others. Receiving brings relief. Relief helps to raise up. You are worthy of receiving the relief or good things of what is being offered! You are valued and important! We are all carrying a load. It is time to let others help carry that load.
Receiving the relief or things that others have to offer is what begins to heal us from the load that we are carrying, and great things begin to happen, both internally and externally.
Alma was a prophet in the Book of Mormon that led many to a place called the Waters of Mormon. It was a journey to get there, amongst wild beasts and vast landscapes. But when they got to the area intended, they found an oasis nestled away where there was natural, pure water, a place of safety, a place to learn, to share, to heal, to receive. In receiving what was offered there, they began to give more than they had come with. To “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
Whether it be a hug, help with a project, financial assistance, or a listening ear, take the opportunity to receive what is being offered from those around you and see the lasting effects it will have on you and those offering it. The connections formed by receiving with gratitude can strengthen, heal, and enable you to continue pursuing your potential.
At Believe, we are working to receive all that others have to offer. You are important! You are valued! Join us to make good things better through involving others and their contributions in our efforts. No one can do it alone. Receiving is an art that allows you to continue giving!