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Saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’
“Are you accepting hugs?” I asked my friend, Jason, at the ski hill just before he opened his arms to welcome me into his space. I had been running into people I hadn’t seen in over nine months my first day back at the slopes, and had enjoyed the variety of connection opportunities.
After sharing a lovely hug, I turned to a nearby acquaintance of ours. He was sitting distant to everyone, drinking a beer, and before I could even open my mouth to say hello, he looked at me sternly, held up his hands, and crossed his fingers towards my face.
What the hell? I thought, immediately offended. I’m sure he heard and saw me ask for permission before entering Jason’s space. I wasn’t going to bombard him with a hug.
“Hey there,” I said to him. He’s frightened I’m sure, and probably didn’t mean ill wishes towards me. He just stared at me, nodded his head, and turned back to his beer.
The fact he wants space doesn’t bother me, I thought. It was the look combined with the gesture, as if he was warding off evil. I know in Japan it is the gesture to ask for a check, but here I take it as a rude “get away from me.”
Saying ‘Yes’ While Asking For Space
There have been various versions of this scenario throughout the pandemic; although this was the most off-putting and rude way someone has asked for space, I can’t help but remember that many of us have not learned how to say ‘yes’ to a person while maintaining distance. In other words, how to acknowledge another person’s presence while simply and honestly stating one’s boundaries.
I have seen people place hands together in a gentle ‘namaste’ as a greeting. Others simply state they are maintaining physical distance. I have seen people wave or step back with a gentle verbal reminder that they would like some space. To me, these seem like gentle ways to address the desire for connection (a yes to the person) while asking for distance.
It’s Different with Strangers–Or Can Be
With strangers I have had the experience of people shrinking away in fear if I walk too close on a hiking trail; others just step off the trail and wait for me to pass-or vice versa. I have seen people get out of line at the grocery store if someone is too close, while others wait (patiently) for an isle to be vacant before entering themselves. There is not necessarily a need to say ‘yes’ to a stranger, but one can choose the level of grace and fear that accompanies non-verbal communication.
Saying ‘Yes’ as A Skill
Saying ‘yes’ to a person and ‘no’ to touch is a communication skill that was important way before this pandemic. Have you ever had to redirect a child who wants to be held while you are occupied? Perhaps you have said something like, “Not now, honey, can you wait until after dinner?” Or, “I know you want to be on my lap right now, but I have to finish folding this laundry.”
Redirecting and saying ‘yes’ to a person goes beyond physical contact as well. Has your partner been focused on a project while you are trying to ask a question and said, “Can you wait a minute to talk about this until I’m done so I can give you my full attention?” Or, “I’ll help you as soon as I’m finished with this?”
I’m sure you’ve acknowledged someone’s presence or need for attention or an answer while also asking for a pause, for a moment or two until the timing is better.
This is saying ‘yes’ to a person and ‘no’ to the interruption. It is saying in a subtle way, “Hey, I hear you and I want to respond, but if you can wait a bit, I can engage in a manner that is more authentic, more thoughtful, more connected.”
We All Make Mistakes in Communication
Do we make mistakes consciously and subconsciously with communication verbally and non-verbally? Of course. Can each of us take offense to something that is not meant to be offensive? Absolutely. I did.
My Question For You
How can you choose to state your boundaries more clearly with those you interact with? When I teach classes about healthy touch and communication, we often discuss offering a series of options to another that suit your own boundaries. “Would you like…a high-five? Fist-bump? Handshake? Hug?”
Giving a few options within your own comfort level can be a helpful guide to the other whilst showing respect for their own boundaries. Or, clearly stating before any error is made, “I would love to give you a hug/ handshake, but I am choosing to maintain distancing at the moment. But it is lovely to see you.” Clear communication not only takes the awkwardness out of a situation, but shows a level of caring and respect.
Comfort Levels Change Around Touch
Permissions can also change day-by-day. A person who wants a hug on Monday may feel a bit sensitive on Friday, or may be starting to distance before they visit an elderly relative. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You can even make it playful! Find a few phrases that fit your boundaries and personality for the next time you run into someone you know. And remember, if someone says ‘no,’ don’t take it personally. Even if they come across rude or angry. After all, we are all doing the best we can at the moment; that too, needs to be respected.
When’s the last time you were in an emotional funk? Looking at past situations that still make us emotional–angry, sad, frustrated, scared, etc–can be liberating. Avoiding healing can put us into a temporary funk until we choose to get rid of the old and embrace the new.
Always more self to explore
No matter how much work I do on myself and clearing old patterns, beliefs, and messages, it seems there is always a way to explore more deeply. It’s really rewarding!
Take for example, family relationships. I come from an amazing supportive family, but I still created beliefs of I’m not good enough and I have to work hard to be loved when I was a child. Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.k.a EFT or tapping), homeopathy, and the Hoffman Process have all been instrumental in changing that.
Some people aren’t as lucky. I have many women come for EFT tapping with a history of abuse, physical or emotional abandonment, and/or neglect. These powerful, strong women learn to move through their past and embrace their power, strength, and joy. Whereas holidays used to be torturous, they are now peaceful.
For some, death has separated family and created unexpected loneliness and grief. Others avoid family at all costs. Many choose their own family.
Family patterns influence relationships
We develop most of our beliefs before the age of five or six (or seven or eight, depending on what aspect of the brain we are discussing.) Our subconscious minds are programmed through identifying positive and negative things and then creating associations and emotions for each. For example, we absorb and mimic our parents and caretakers. Second, we have our own experience of how we are treated and cared for. We observe the world with different brain waves and an inability to use logic. What we are immersed in and exposed to informs what and who we become.
Our beliefs sneak in unwittingly
You have to work hard to be successful. I’m not good enough. Money doesn’t grow on trees. That’s stupid=I’m stupid. You are too old to act like that. Children should be seen and not heard. Others are more important than me. I am always wrong. People only want me for sex. Men should act like x. Women should act like y. Boys don’t cry. Women are weak. Poor people are/rich people are z. I need to act like or be __ to be loved.
These beliefs are insidious and sneaky. They define how you interact with relationships, money, society, food and alcohol, and yourself.
It can seem overwhelming
I’ve been doing healing work with myself and practitioners for 20 years. I’ve learned where my triggers are, why they are happening, and how to communicate clearly. Empathy has become easier. When others are hiding or reacting out of fear I can usually feel that. People have different views because of these beliefs. Individuals are often suffering inside, trying to find joy and happiness when these beliefs are telling them that they don’t GET to be happy.
Happiness and joy
My process of becoming joyful was not always fun. Finding joy does not mean I become perfectly neutral and never experience anger. That is an interesting concept some people, especially those wanting to travel a path towards enlightenment, seem to think is ideal. There is a wheel of emotions, and health to me means being able to access any of them.
In my opinion, the marker of emotional health is the ability to see a situation for what it is and how it makes you feel so you can respond to it and move through it. Denying emotion or pretending you are a positive person thus cannot (or should not) feel anger can be extremely damaging.
For example, I have a friend who used to say he never got angry. What he has realized over time is that he suppresses anger because he learned that anger=violence. So for self-preservation, he made a conscious choice to never feel anger.
Instead, those emotions were stored in his body. Those emotions created physical symptoms.
Now–was that function beneficial and helpful to him over parts of his life? Absolutely. Was it his best expression of health possible at the time? For sure. Can he (and you) learn to regulate emotions without suppressing them? Of course. Emotional Freedom Techniques is one of many ways you can learn to do that. (Here’s a 13 or 30-minute video if you want to see the science.)
Become your best self
What does that mean? My best self is aware, awake, and happy. It means I make choices from clarity and confidence instead of reactivity and fear. Talk to me if you want to hear more. Or, join one of my classes on Eventbrite.
Free Tapping Class for Loneliness
I am holding a free 4-week class on tapping for loneliness. You will learn to tap for yourself, AND how to apply these principles for all stresses in your life. Plus, the class is recorded so you can watch it anytime + go back to them. Contact me via Direct message, email, or text, and I will let you know when the final dates are scheduled..
With love and gratitude,
Connecting is a Core Strength
I am having WAY too much fun connecting and collaborating these days–even without touch.
When the first round of stay-at-home orders hit, I was thrilled to use my “free time” to be on zoom about twelve hours a day. I was co-writing another book, networking with my two favorite networking groups, as well as having online connects personally with those I kept intending to build relationships with.
I quickly burned out collaborating
Computers drain my energy. They make me irritable and restless if I’m not also doing regular exercise. At the time, I was busy pouting over a sprained ankle and a shoulder injury, so wasn’t working out. The only things that kept me sane were hugs from my roommate + a newfound coffee and chocolate compulsion. It was not the best choice for my physical health. Emotionally they helped, as coffee reminded me of friends in Europe.
I’ve adapted to Touch-Free
It’s like playtime when I’m interviewed for articles, podcasts, blogs, and newsletters. I have presented about The Touch Crisis virtually to groups in San Fransisco, California; Madison and Wausau, Wisconsin. I spoke for an International women’s networking group. I was a “Ted-Talk Style” speaker for Accelerated Global Connections.
My Question for You
Can you ask for what you need in this time? Can you let go of any fear and understand that healthy touch actually boosts the immune system? Seriously-they did a study exposing people to the flu and found the more hugs and better social support, the less likely people were to get sick.
When you see friends ask, “Would you like a handshake? Hug? Or for me to say six feet away?” It shows respect + you get to only throw in the options that suit you. You can also make it playful, “Are you receiving hugs today?” Instead of having an awkward moment, take charge and choose to connect.
If you need a hug or some healthy human contact, you know where to find me.
Have you ever been so excited about something? The perfect opportunity, job, or relationship? That new fitness program or lifestyle change? Then for some unknown reason, you do or something that screws it up? That destroys it?
What now? Can we shift negative self-talk, self-sabotage, and subconscious fear?
We can try to make amends first. Ask for forgiveness, rebuild trust, or do what you can to get back on track. Sometimes that works. For example, when I was interviewing candidates for a receptionist position, I had about fifteen applicants; five I called in for an interview. One was a twenty-year-old woman, who had great qualifications, fit all my requirements, and who came in looking professional and holding herself with confidence. But she was anxious and unclear while answering questions, and by the time we were done, I had already decided she was not a good fit. I walked her out, and as she opened the front door, she turned to me and said, “I know I really screwed up that interview, but I want you to know I will be the best receptionist you’ve had if you hire me.” Then she walked out the door.
She impressed me by acknowledging her shortcomings and confronted me with honesty and integrity. I ended up hiring her and she was right. She was efficient, friendly, and organized. If she didn’t understand my directions or if I gave her conflicting information, she would clarify with me and make sure she got it right.
I’m a Pro at Self-Sabotage
Other times, it doesn’t work so well. I’ve self-sabotaged in the past. For example, I’ve procrastinated and missed deadlines for speaking engagements because I had already decided I “wasn’t good enough” to speak there or my message wasn’t powerful enough. In January I had about three hours worth of edits to do on my book. Every slot I had set aside to do it I delayed. I did little things that didn’t matter and that weren’t important. But then, it got worse. I started getting angry at myself and let my mind tell me how awful I was, how stupid, and how this is why I would never be successful. I recognized my pattern and started therapy with one of my healers. She observed my level of self-sabotage and reminded me how sometimes our beliefs from childhood or past experiences prevent us from stepping forward and embracing all that we are. The subconscious can also tell us we are unworthy of something or someone and make us do something that destroys the opportunity.
Why Did I say THAT?
I had a situation recently where I said something completely out of character for me to a person I care about deeply. I didn’t even know where it came from or why it came out of my mouth. It broke trust and destroyed everything that had been built over years. Back to my healer I went, who has me looking at the following questions.
- Do you believe you deserve this?
- What could happen if this did work out? How does it leave you vulnerable?
- Where in your past did you get hurt in a way that you subconsciously created this problem as a defense mechanism?
- How can you heal that past so you don’t do it again?
Exploring a Deeper Level
I know if I don’t look at my past, I will keep self-sabotaging over and over again in future situations because I haven’t healed the root belief and the root fear that my subconscious is protecting me from. I am actively working on it; finding forgiveness for myself for the times I failed, the times I got hurt, and the times I hurt others. It’s going to be a long road. I’m hoping for forgiveness from my friend. I’m resisting the self-forgiveness for sure. As many of us do.
Where do you self-sabotage in your relationships, your career, your health? How do you prevent yourself from opening to happiness, health, and ease in all aspects of your life? I encourage you to explore your own healing, whether with a healer or therapist, or on your own. Really sit and figure out what you want. Then go for it. Commit to yourself and the process even if it means being uncomfortable for a while. It’s how we grow. I’m right here with you.
The Touch Crisis
I am finally writing my book about “Touch!” The word “touch” suddenly seems to have negative connotations, so I am using the phrase “Physical Connection.”
This book has been in process for a few years. When I was giving presentations around Minnesota and California to women’s groups on how ‘Healthy Touch Connects Communities,’ women became inspired to connect more strongly with others around them, and communicate more around touch-with people they wanted connect with as well as those they observed were not connected.
They also thought about different ways to speak to their children about touch. Many people told me I should write a book, and I thought about it…for over two years.
The Time is Now For Connecting
The time is here. But as I talk to people about how they connect, the common theme is always around communication. That’s a big subject! I remember hiking in Sweden, and I got lost in a small town while I was trying to take a back way to the grocery store from an art park.
I walked for about 30 minutes before seeing ANYONE, so when I saw a woman walking towards me on the street, I was extremely excited. I asked her if she could point me to the store (in my really poor Swedish) and she indicated that she was deaf and couldn’t hear me.
Who Isn’t Hearing?
What happened next still bothers me. Instead of pausing for a minute, and trying to communicate using the few signs I do know and spelling the rest, I shrugged my shoulders, made a gesture as if I was SO disappointed she didn’t understand me, and went on my way.
SERIOUSLY? I just ran into a beautiful person who cannot hear, and instead of taking the time to try to communicate and say hello and step into her world, I shrugged her off because it was such an inconvenience for me to not be able to talk to her while lost in a foreign land? I can make all the excuses in the world about why I didn’t try to sign (first being that I was thinking so hard about how to talk in Swedish, I forgot that I knew some basic sign language), but the reality is I didn’t stop and pause and think about the best way to connect and communicate.
Another time I froze in communication where it could have made an impact was when I arrived in the Lake District in England. I was walking to my hostel with my laptop and my rucksack after an exhausting day of travel, and saw four teenagers ahead on the sidewalk throwing around drink bottles and chasing each other. Not wanting to get caught up in the splatter, I moved toward the road and tried to sneak past them. One of the girls stopped me and asked for help. She said the two boys were bullying her, and wouldn’t give her and her female friend their drinks back. I gave the boys A LOOK and they returned the bottles.
She then shared with me that her friend was ignoring her so she could chat with the boys, and allowed the bullying to happen. In retrospect, perhaps I should have given them all a bit of a lecture about treating each other with respect, especially the girl who was ignoring her friend. But I didn’t know what to say at the moment, as I was caught up in the tragedy of the teen years and how people treat each other. I wonder to this day why I didn’t, in that moment, tell her she deserved to be treated like that, tell her friend not to treat her that way either if she was a true friend, and to tell the boys to treat the girls with respect, especially when they say “STOP.”
Both are lessons, and remind me that no matter how well we think we communicate, there is always room to grow. I would love to hear your stories about communication and physical connection, and how you use these to strengthen your connection within your own communities-both large and small. If you are open to being interviewed for the book, please contact me HERE.
Moms of Pre-Teen or Teen Girls- Join me and my friend Alissa for a fun, powerful, interactive, experiential workshop. Explore how to:
- Create a stronger bond and connection through a deep respect of one another.
- Clearly communicate while focusing on what’s great already.
- Learn how to set boundaries that feel good and give voice to both of you.
- Learn tools that empower your relationship and keep you connected now and for years to come.
- Our event partner, Athleta, will be giving away a raffle prize package
- an hour in the Athleta store with their stylist
- a $50 ShopCard!
- a Starbucks beverage of your choice while you are with the stylist!
Follow THIS LINK for more information and tickets.
I look forward to hearing from all of you.
This Swedish traveler just finished about an 18 mile hike on the ice age trail, which runs from Taylors Falls, MN/St. Croix Falls WI to Michigan. The purpose of this hike was to test out all of my gear that I’m bringing to Sweden with me for camping, make sure I’m okay carrying 30+ pounds on my back over rough terrain for a long distance, and to try to settle my mind.
I picked up the trail at Highway 8 and 35 in Wisconsin, hiked 8 miles into a camp near Lions Park, and spent the night there. It turns out all my gear works wonderfully, and I have enough strength and stamina to handle excursions such as this. On the way back I took a detour on the Trail of Myths. This was a 2 mile up-and-down hike through some lovely old values with ferns, rivers, and lots and lots of up-and-down hill stretches.
One reason I wanted to post about this as well as posting pictures is the similarity of landscape between here and Sweden. As I’ve mentioned to many of you, there’s a reason why Swedish ancestors from Gotland settled here. I included couple pictures of my previous hike in Sweden, as well as my current hike here in St. Croix Falls. It’s lovely to feel so connected to both places at once and realize that the similarities if I get homesick, all I have to do is run out into the woods and pretend I am back in Minnesota.
Unless it’s snowing. Then I can just look at the snow and pretend I’m in Minnesota. I’m on the countdown and have 8 days until I fly out. It’s been hard to leave my massage clients and close my offices. I’ve started saying my final goodbyes to many of my friends and am facing the final goodbye to my family and those closest to me soon. However, I am confident this transition will go smooth. I’m excited to share with you everything that I’ve learned and am learning about as I explore culture differences in aspects including health, healing, and relationships. It’s become very clear to me that one of my specialties is to help people emotionally reengage in their personal, professional, and societal relationships.
I’ve started studying how we view touch as an American culture and am curious to remind myself and to get a deeper understanding of how touch is viewed in other countries. I know Swedish culture has similar touch ideas but are also more relaxed about their bodies and body image. There is not so much shame associated with physicality.
Healthy touch is important for physical, mental, and emotional growth. I am clear that I will have to do my own healing work around what happens when I am suddenly no longer able to receive the same level of touch that I am accustomed to (hugs from family, friends, massages, and so on). I know it’s a challenge for many people when they break up with significant others, have a death in the family, move away to college, and so on, but this will be my first real experience in many years dealing with a sudden shift in close relationships.
Until I am there, I can only guess at what I will experience, how the meaning and feel of home will shift for me, and how much I’m going to have to use my EFT (tapping) tool to help process. I’m also curious how someone who loves communication so much will fare speaking Swedish. It
makes me happy to share my experiences with you as I travel, and look forward to the continued journey together.