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Afraid to get close? Defenses taken over? How to open up and allow affection in!

Modern times discourage emotional intimacy in so many ways. The digital takeover has starved the soul and desensitized us to our humanness. How do we find a way back to the warm, beating heart and its natural expression?

As a psychotherapist using hypnosis as a central method of healing, my approach is two fold.

On the literal level, it is key to unplug for at least several hours each day. Evenings are a natural time for this. Instead of binging on Netflix, which is watching others have imaginary relationships and interactions, unplugging allows the human longing for understanding company to arise within the self. When we fill every minute of our time with work and distractions we dull our benevolent human instincts, one of which is to connect with flesh and blood others in real time.

Sometimes a sense of mistaken pride about not needing anyone else’s help or even attention can set up a self defeating pattern of thinking, believing and behaving. Substitutions for human affection and understanding are easily available, such as eating in an attempt to fill an emotional need or drinking too much alcohol. But these attempts at self insulation ultimately fail as we discover we cannot blot out the need for human warmth.

The hope for change lies in the relationship with the self, first and foremost. We typically freeze out our needs and vulnerability before freezing out others. How to thaw the chilly heart? The inner child holds the key. I recommend putting a favorite childhood photo of yourself in a beautiful frame in a place of honor in your home, where you will see it every day. As you gaze at this image allow yourself to remember what it felt like to be that age.

Remember how it felt to be at the mercy of the adults who cared for you. Remember your curiosity about the world. And remember you deep need for love. You still need love and you can allow your adult self to feel warmth toward the child you once were, the inner child you still carry within your heart. Perhaps that child suffered neglect or cruelty. If so, allow your adult self to feel empathy and an urge to protect the little one.

This child needs to express herself through spontaneous play. Whether that’s free form painting, strolling in nature, singing along to her favorite songs or dressing up like her favorite character. Creative expression is essential for the nurturance of this spirit of joy. Being with animals is another gateway to this feeling of natural warmth and interaction. A friend’s or neighbor’s dog may be your ticket to remembering how to give and receive affection without pre-thought or strategy.

Becoming a loving parent to our internal child is another piece of the healing structure. This inner child of ours needs understanding, empathy and also sane boundaries and kind discipline. You know that wonderful feeling of doing something that you have been procrastinating about for weeks? That is the joy that comes from being led to focus and exert ourselves towards completion of a task. Healthy self esteem in the organic result of accomplishment, no matter how small the task. As we feel better about ourselves it often extends to our feelings towards others. Thinking of others as friendly, rather than threatening, unleashes our innate curiosity and ignites a desire to interact with others.

Hypnotherapy changes outdated, self defeating ideas and thoughts about ourselves and others . So that you become more open, more interested and more willing to engage and share with people. When this happens, bingeing on tv becomes pretty dull. Trust me, I know.

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