When the Wild Things Hurt

“Can you build a fort that will keep all the hurt out?”

That’s my favorite line from the movie, Where the Wild Things Are. It’s seems odd to hear a huge gnarly-eyed-wild-thing be worried about being hurt. It exposed that creature’s vulnerability and humanity. I get a lump in my throat every time I think about it.

We all hurt… it’s part of the human condition. Remember when you were a kid and you’d scraped your knee or elbow… your alligator-tears were sincere. Although the pain was real, it was nothing compared to the emotional pain. Sure, the ceremonial placing of the band-aid was crucial, but what really made it feel better was that hug from your mom or dad.

When my Biscuit gets hurt or is sick, what he really wants most is genuine TLC from me or his dad. If he is with friends, he wants to feel that his friends are concerned about him. Things are not much different for adults. We too experience both physical and emotional pain, and still crave that empathy from the people we love.

Receiving empathy from somebody you love does make it all better. There is evidence that an emotional connection affects our physical beings. Did you know that if you yawn in front of another person, they will yawn too… but only if they have empathy for you.

There is no denying that empathetic physical contact translates into the feeling of being loved and understood.  When a baby cries, holding her soothes her. It’s not that different for adults. Being held by a loved one can make you feel better.

I know when I hurt, I feel alone in my pain…. it’s a lonely business. Luckily physical soothing works for adults too. I actually believe there is magic in the act of spooning, even snuggling with a Pooh-bear can help.

So the next time someone close to you needs a band-aid, don’t forget to finish it with a sincere hug, a hand-hold or gentle embrace. Likewise, the next time you are hurting… physically, emotionally or both, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or loved one for a cuddle.

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