Cuddling and Shame

Everyone has shame to some degree or another. In The Wisdom of Self-Acceptance by Tara Brach PHD, she discusses the prevalence of shame in our culture relating to “I’m not good enough”.  Do you recognize this pattern in yourself?  For me, my driving mantra is- I’m smart enough to figure this out. Which is what I tell myself to avoid the “I’m not good enough” feeling. I really beat myself up when I struggle to do something new.  Building my healing practice is a good example.  What do I know about business? I punched a time clock and gladly took home that weekly paycheck for three decades. No one ever taught me business skills, so why do I have to prove I’m smart enough to figure this out- alone.  Shame (about my ignorance) was keeping me from asking for help. To avoid feeling not good enough, I struggled and suffered unnecessarily to re-invent the wheel to build my practice.  Eventually my logical brain (with a bit of comedy) kicked in and asked, “Does anyone expect you to perform brain surgery or fly a space shuttle to the moon?”  “Of, course not”, I replied, “I’m not trained for that.”  Ahh.  Lightbulb.  I finally let go of trying to meet my own impossible standard. I released the shame was holding me back.

There is another way that shame also plays a part in my business growth. Would you expect a 50- to 60-year-old man to gush about his cuddle session? I get very few referrals because shame gets in the way.  Many clients share that they don’t tell anyone they come to see me.  That saddens me. But I respect their privacy. It comes down to vulnerability.

How is a cuddle session any different than taking care of yourself when you are sick and making a doctor’s appointment?  Are you ashamed to tell people you need to see a doctor?  Not usually, because we want to get well, to take care of ourselves.  And how often do we hear women bragging on their way out the door at the end of a tough day that they are going to the spa and having a massage. 

These things and cuddling relieve our stress and anxiety. Cuddling can meet our desires for connection by engaging the ingrained neurobiology in our bodies for touch. 

Wouldn’t you be pleased to work a full shift with someone who is stress-free, relaxed and smiling all day?  Hey, Frank, why are you so chipper? “Oh that,” Frank could reply with an even bigger smile, “I had a cuddle session last night.  I feel fantastic!”

So shame affects shame and on and on the cycle goes.   I hope this article can break down the societal barriers and ideas that cuddling is weak, shameful, embarrassing and shows neediness.  No, it doesn’t.  It shows self-care, self-love, and compassion and meets our needs for touch and connection.