Afraid of Touch? Tips for Creating Safety Around Touch
Fear of touch can create a conflict- you long for connection and you freeze up at the thought. People need touch to really thrive. Avoid skin hunger and learn how to start feeling safer receiving concentual touch and getting the warmth and connection you long for.
Reid Mihalko from http://www.reidaboutsex.com/ and Cathy Vartuli from http://www.theintimacydojo.com/ share tips and approaches to allow you to feel safer giving and receiving touch.
Cathy: Hey, everyone. If you’re afraid of touch, it can be really hard to connect.
Reid: Yeah, it can feel really scary especially if you don’t know what you’re afraid of, it can seem super daunting. What ends up happening is you’re not getting enough touch in your life and there’s actually a condition called skin hunger. It’s a medical condition which is the psychological effects that start to happen when you’re not getting enough touch in your life. Everybody’s different around this but it is one of those things where you can actually be touch-starved.
Cathy: Yes, so I’m Cathy Vartuli from the http://TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Reid: I’m Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: It is hard when you’re afraid of touch. I’ve been there. I was very afraid of being hurt, getting too close to someone, and it can shut you down and leave you feeling… if there’s an inner conflict where you really want to have people close and you’re really afraid of it, it can take a huge amount of energy out of your life. So what are some ways people can start moving forward with that if they want to?
Reid: The things I would recommend is start making two lists. Lists of kinds of touch you might like, alternatives, because I think people, when they think about touch, if they’re feeling afraid of it, automatically go to the worst case scenario. So think of kinds of touch that might actually be pleasing like getting your hair washed at the salon, or a foot rub, or somebody just holding your hand. Touch doesn’t have to be full on sex or a puppy pile with eight people all cuddling each other. It doesn’t have to be like that.
The second thing I would do is start trying to make a little list about what you’re afraid of that might happen if you were to touch somebody and just try to get your… the evil hamsters on your hamster wheels that are squeaking so loud in your head. Try to get them out on paper and look at those things from the point of view of I’ve now gotten these fears out of my head and on paper, which can sometimes make them a little bit easier to deal with and less scary and now you’ve named them.
Cathy: Yes, that can make a huge difference. One of the things I’ve noticed is a lot of… I’ve talked to a lot of women about this, I don’t know if it’s general or not, but a lot of women I’ve talked to, they think it has to be a romantic partner that touches them to help them. Yes, that may be your goal, but to start working on this, that may not be the best place to start. You can ask a friend just to exchange a shoulder rub, or to just stroke your arm. You can go get a massage like you suggested. So it’s just like a wet sponge doesn’t absorb water really well. If you’re scared anyway and you haven’t had a lot of touch…
Reid: It makes you really wonky. The skin hunger’s crept in, as well as you just being in a high state of anxiety. Other things you can do is think of the people that are in your community that are safe, that you feel safe around. Just safe in general. Those are people that you can go to for a hug or maybe hand-holding or if you have nieces and nephews or new born… friends who have kids who need… they’re like, please, take my kid. Just get them away. And you’re okay with kids tugging on you or crawling all over you. That might be really useful because kids may be way less intimidating to you than adults if there’s some weird dynamic about you being afraid of receiving touch from adults.
Other things to look for are how… what kind of touch and what kind of setting might make the touch feel safer. You holding somebody’s hands at the movies might be much, much less scary because you’re in a public space or in a coffee shop than you cuddling with somebody at home alone. You’re not alone because you’re with somebody, but… these ideas of like, you, if you go to the beach or you’re sitting in the park, spooning with somebody and talking at the park may be way less scary than you spooning at home if your anxiety is that the touch might lead to something that you don’t want, which usually is a clue that you don’t feel like you can say no.
Cathy: So learning boundaries can be a really powerful way to feel safer with touch.
Reid: You learning how to say no powerfully and hanging out with people that you know can respect your no’s. Again, we had another video about seventh grade and the anxiety of liking people. Culture taught us as teenagers and as children that we can’t control ourselves and then no one told us that when you grow up into an adult, you actually have some impulse control. Some of your fear might be coming from the fact that you believe that people can’t control themselves, or you’re so starved for touch you feel like you can’t control yourself either.
Cathy: You can also look and see if you think you deserve touch. Someone who doesn’t feel like they deserve touch may have issues about it. They may be pulling away from the very thing they want or they might be really afraid, and if that’s the case, you ask yourself why and do some work with the coach or a therapists who are going to clear some of that.
Reid: Yeah, you might be able to do some tapping stuff with Cathy or you might even be able to go to a cuddle party workshop, which is a workshop that I created back in 2004 with Marcia Baczynski and you can go to http://CuddleParty.com and check out that whole crazy scene.
Cathy: Yeah, they’re beautiful. They’re actually really… when I first started them, I was like kind of thinking they were…
Reid: It’s a kooky idea but really good.
Cathy: They’re really beautiful and really empowering.
Reid: And that’s basically a communication workshop on how to create safe space for yourself and boundary setting and you can invite people into that space of safety that you create for yourself. So check that out. Especially let us know how you feel about the rules of cuddling, which are at http://CuddleParty.com and you can leave those in the comments below.
Cathy: Yeah, and we’d love to hear how this works for you or what issues you have coming up for… please let us know.
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