The Power and Simplicity of a Hug


When going through a hard time I’m sure everyone would agree on the amazing power and simplicity of someone giving you a hug. There have been some moments of despair in my life where there was no answer anyone could give me that would help and I remember so vividly when one of my friends simply said “God, you’re going through a hard time, aren’t you?” and then gave me a big hug. Whilst my problems were still there, the hug relieved my despair and I was able to let go and feel much better.

It’s very easy when a friend is having a hard time to try and work out their problems and tell them exactly what to do, as if we know better than they who they are, what they need and how they should live their lives. It’s funny how we find our own lives so difficult to get right that we know exactly what to do with other people’s! I saw a very close friend the other day who is having a problem with a destructive relationship where her friends have got so bored of the situation of trying to tell her what to do that they don’t allow her to speak about it anymore. This has made her feel very alone and isolated. She simply can’t let go of this person who is treating her so badly and her friends have given up telling her to leave him.

On listening to her I realized that if I gave my opinion or told her what to do then it would just confuse her more and add to the million voices in her head, which contradict each other, and she’d feel even more lost, I noticed the more I didn’t say anything and the more I listened and just told her I could tell how what a hard time she was going through, the more she relaxed and seemed to find her own wisdom. On leaving her though I was disappointed not to have given her a big hug, knowing the power of a hug. It’s easy to forget. We can get sucked into our own thoughts and opinions and not see the incredibly obvious thing in front of us, that this person just wants and needs a hug. If we give someone a hug, it makes them feel secure, it tells them physically that we are there, that despite what they are going through, we love them and we care for them; which is much more important then telling them your opinion and what you think they should do with their lives, which is actually rather distancing.

I believe the security one gets from a hug leaves the person to feel stronger and more secure and thus more able to see what they need to do and make a decision for themselves. I’m not saying anything new here, everyone knows the power of a hug, but I do feel people forget how powerful and healing it is. One of the Dalai Lamas words of wisdom is: ‘Remember that sometimes silence is the best answer.’ I always try to remember that and I have found that silence has never failed, where my advice, opinions and ramblings often have! I would add on to his advice (if I may?!) ‘Remember that sometimes silence and a hug is the best answer.’ Part of life, sadly, is having dilemmas, battles and decisions which have both a positive and a negative effect.

Life is not black and white, and we can’t answer people’s questions about how to live their lives for them because life is so complex and only they and God knows what they really need. I think we’d be much better off, when are friends are struggling and in need, rather than telling them what to do, that they need to be more confident or whatever it is, to give them a hug and tell them you see what a hard time it is they are having. This will as a result make them feel more confident, loved and secure and thus more able to make the decision they need to make.

Sometimes people will try and get us to make their life decisions for them, only to then tell you why that decision doesn’t work. If you’re sucked into trying to tell your friend what to do it can be incredibly tiring and frustrating; and I am willing to bet a lot of money, what they really want and need is a hug. Notice, the next time you are upset, whether you’d prefer ‘advice’ or a hug; and then see next time a friend seems to want you to tell them what to do with their life, see if a hug does the trick; I bet it does.