I've been reading a book about motivation called Drive by Daniel H. Pink and yesterday I encountered a very interesting notion in it. Drive is a positive psychology book that draws from many positive psychology antecedents and it mentions Self-determination theory (SDT), which says that all of humans basically long for three things: competence, autonomy and relatedness.
So basically in order to design an effective workplace (or anything else) you need to be thinking of on all of the above mentioned. This totally makes sense, right? Lots of food for thought I am dwelling on right now as I am slowly starting to move away from the unhealthy extrinsic-motivation-based environment we have been fed on ever since we entered nurseries as children...
In this post, however, I would like to focus on the last one of our human needs.
Well, I got you hooked on reading with that photo on top, haven't I? Isn't it amazing?
I came across that one while reading one of the last articles on one of my favorite feminist websites muf.com.hr (goodbye muf and thank you for everything!! <3). And this is some major shit. You know, I have always been a very touchy person. The thing is, actually, all of us are. In some way, we all long to build relationships and to feel related to people. And you cannot do that without ever being touched. Actually if you are not being touched by anybody you are probably slowly dying on the inside.
Sooo.. how does it happen that at some point we become completely touch-less? That the most you get is a courteous kiss on the cheek to your aunt at the family reunion? A handshake to a new person you are meeting?
I don't know how much this bothers you personally- maybe you are in a stable romantic relationship and you get your needs fulfilled there so you don't think about it too much?
But even in that case, is it really healthy to pour all of our needs into one outlet which should thus satisfy us completely? Can in it ever satisfy us truly or we put too big of a demand on the shoulders of our romantic-/sexual partners?
In high school I had this little games I would sometimes play - like how many people will I hug that day, or how many people I can make laugh or smile. That was fun. Getting love from your friends felt very organic. It just was, without any question marks left hoovering above my head.
In Uni as well I had the luck to live with my best friend and we would lie together on the bed and look at each others faces and talk about what happened to us that day. We would hug the shit out of each other after being separated for two days only.
And then, somehow, everything became very detached. The signals that I was getting from everywhere were scaring me. People, including most importantly - my own family, were telling me I am acting super childish asking for a hug. They would step away when I would stroke their hand. I did not understand and it was painful. But what I learned was that I am bothering them with my desire for closeness.
It was me that was being rude and improper. I should learn to respect people's boundaries.
I incarcerated myself into my own body in order to comply with the rules of the game.
>>fast forward to now >>
Have you ever lived in Spain? Or even better, anywhere in South America?😁
I've been here (in Spain) for three months only, but lemme tell you. Cultural norms.
When you meet someone new YOU KISS THEM ON THE FACE. ohmygossh.
It was superduper weird at first. Like when I went to the green rooftop workshop and I am meeting all these new people and it is a river of kisses and smiles and hugs and everybody is asking me what's up and I am just so confused.
I remember in Poland two years ago when we were going to a flat party of a Spanish guy whom I met a couple of days beforehand. I came to his flat and I just smiled and said hi. He got mad at me because he felt like I was acting like I don't even know him not kissing him at the doorstep.
So yeah, people act like that.
And that is what got me thinking about this topic in the first place.
But what really pushed me was going to a Rainbow gathering in the first half of this month. If you don't know what a Rainbow is I will just tell you it is a bunch of beautiful hipis in one place. Not necessarily in style but in heart and values. But the only way to know what it is is to try it, really. I don't want to give out too much.
What happens in Rainbows is that you treat everyone with ultimate love. Everyone is family. People literally come up to you and give you a hug for no reason except for that it is nice. I freakin loved it!
And the hugs are so good. My god. You can really feel it comes from the heart. I literally saw people standing for minutes and minutes just hugging each other. This kind of environment really opens you up.
So then I started thinking about what constricts me the most in my everyday giving and receiving of love. And besides the stupid cultural norms, besides people that have been traumatized and now have a hard time opening their heart and then they take it out on me, there is also one other (huge) point.
And it is men.
Or not even men necessarily, but basically the fear that the other side does not reciprocate my platonic motivation but wants to engage in something more. In short that the other person like-likes me.
And with men this has been especially traumatic for me because whenever I felt safe with my male friends and I felt like I could express my love physically - almost inevitably it would end with them telling me that they like me and me feeling... betrayed.
I hate this feeling of constant lack of trust. Of calculating how much is too much.
Since one of my two new year resolutions was to act on my feelings more without fear the only way I see this conundrum could be solved is that I do how I feel. I hold my friend's hands, lay on their knees while watching a film and give them real hugs full of love flowing into their body.
It is stupid to always be afraid of people falling in love with me or thinking I am in love with them.
I mean I actually kind of am, just in a different way.
And besides touch there is talk as well. Adults should be able to discuss their emotions without retreating to cowardly running away from any kind of hurt or conflict.
So what is so radical about platonic intimacy is that it is also a way of acheiving a more feminist society. A society in which there is more love and more freedom of expression. But the road there is not an easy one to take. The prospect is too good not to try, though. 😊
In my first month of living in a community I received two hugs.
Today when I saw Maja for the first time after a couple of days she dropped everything she was carrying to jump at me and shower me with kindness. I really feel so much closer when people are not being afraid to touch me.
How many people will you hug or kiss today? Tell them they are beautiful?