by Alecia Rice
Q: I’m a teenager whose mom thinks it’s rude for me not to want to hug family at gatherings. It makes me uncomfortable to hug certain people, and I think I should be able to choose for myself. What do you think? — Rude Teen
A: Dear Rude Teen,
We should get to choose whom we’re comfortable hugging at any age, yet I sense where your mother is coming from. Unfortunately, I feel her perspective is driven more by what other people might think than it is about you. You might be able to influence change by having a good conversation around my response for her to consider for balance and understanding.
Hugging is a great way to share caring, joy, appreciation and affection. It has a grounding quality to it which can help us feel more present. It’s a beautiful way to share bonds and say something without words. At the same time, I have become conscious of the fact that there are many people who don’t like to hug. It makes some uncomfortable for many reasons. Therefore, I ask for permission to hug ahead of time. I also assure them that I won’t take it personally if they say, “No.” This makes it easier for them to decline more gracefully. Think back to when you were a child. Weren’t there people you didn’t want to hug, because that wrinkly woman with big red lips scared you, or because your stubble-faced uncle smelled funny? Consider this for perspective: children are sensitive and pick up vibes that we often ignore and they sometimes sense things that we don’t. There has been many a close family member or friend who has secretly acted out inappropriately with children, which can create the need in children for avoidance and personal space.
Honor the feelings of children by giving them agency to make choices, such as whom they hug when they’re old enough to choose, especially females. Doing so empowers their sense of personal authority so they learn to trust their feelings and intuition to act on what’s comfortable and what’s not. Verbalize this teaching for clarity. This reinforces the message that young people can make independent decisions, think for themselves and others should respect that as they grow into adulthood.
We should teach our children to reach out politely with a smile to shake hands instead of hug, if that makes them more comfortable. If practicing this causes concerns about others thinking that our children have no manners, we can explain that we’re empowering our children to make decisions for themselves even when others may not agree with those choices. This clarifies the situation and may even influence others to consider another perspective with children they encounter. This is how change happens…one person at a time.
As conscious adults, we’re finding ways to break out of old molds of expectation and obligation. It’s very important for us to honor intuition and our sense of self, which begins with practicing principles of empowerment with children when they are very young.
Q: During the holidays, I realize that I’m miserable about decisions I have made to try and avoid feelings of guilt. I want to break this pattern. Can you help? — Guilty Choices
A: Dear Guilty Choices,
Guilt is an attachment to judgment that results from the fear of causing harm or actually doing so. It’s a wasted emotion unless you’re actually feeling remorse for harm you’ve done and are asking for forgiveness. Our goal is to become conscious of the judgments we assign which are often more about what others “might” think, instead of being in alignment with what we actually think and feel. These judgments manifest as voices in our heads questioning our motives when we’re trying to be “good enough.” We don’t want to be wrong or bad, so we often try to save ourselves some hassles which can cause us to make poor choices to try to please others. Awareness around this dynamic helps us to break old patterns and move us more towards authenticity. The key is to pause with presence so that we may identify what we’re actually thinking. This requires a practice of paying closer attention to the unrealized voices of others because choices made from these places aren’t actually ours but belong to another. Listening to them breeds codependence as we live a life to please others instead of having the courage to live our own. This pattern causes us to live inauthentic lives that feel hollow and unfulfilling. Time to listen to our soul, captain our own ship and turn that wheel towards happiness
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.