The Gesture That Says a Thousand Words

Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. Washington Irving, author

In some ways, all friends are “distant friends” in today’s world. Before COVID-19, my best friend and I always ended our in-person visits with a hug. Now that we can only see each other on Zoom or from a distance, she has invented a virtual hug for us. We each put our hand over our heart as a way to acknowledge our caring for one another. 

Now, even on Zoom, we demonstrate our love by patting our own hearts.

I recently read that we are, scientifically, on to something. Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, writes, “Putting your hand on your heart has been shown to create a sense of compassion and empathy. Your mammalian system kicks in immediately when you place your hand on your heart. You begin to use a warmer, gentler tone with yourself and with others.”

Our physiology appears hardwired to recognize this gesture as self-soothing. It also creates a sense of compassion and empathy—something we all need right now. 

Affirmation: I “hand on heart” you.

Coaching questions: How have you adapted to our new reality? What are you missing in your life right now?

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