I was left awed by a beautiful experience one Sunday afternoon recently. While walking my dog, I got chatting to an elderly lady sitting on a bench. I heard a slight American accent but found out she was from Colombia, enjoying a 120+ day cruise around the world. It had docked in Copenhagen for the afternoon.
She shared her life story which reflected the norms of the society she grew up in. Married at 18 (you were considered too old if you left it any later), a single mother and widow by her mid-twenties with no education. Society did not allow her to remarry. However, she did ‘break the rules’ and train as a nurse. She worked hard to send her only son to college in the USA. He never returned. I sensed a lot of loneliness and little encouragement to enjoy the travelling lifestyle chosen.
On saying goodbye, all she asked for was a hug. I heard a gentle voice say, ‘I don’t get many hugs.’ I gave her a second one and held back a tear as I saw her walk away.
Touch is a human basic need. My little dog needs it too and ensures I tickle his ears and tummy several times a day. We all feel better when we give. So why not be brave and ask for what you really need? Practice on someone you don’t know so well. You might be surprised. Maybe that stranger will gladly give up their seat on the crowded bus or help you with your luggage. See it as training the muscle to ask for the bigger things with your boss or partner, for example.
Help others to help you. Ask and it will be given. Now open yourself up to receiving.