The Power of Touch

power of touchI think it’s safe to say that everyone has felt the power of touch at some point in their life; from a simple squeeze of the hand to a full-body hug.

One simple touch can open a floodgate of emotions, bring a sense of calm, a feeling of serenity or a surge of strength, in times of need.

Proved by Science

I remember reading about experiments, where baby monkeys were taken from their mothers and raised with minimal physical contact and no interaction with others; and also about many Romanian orphanages during the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu that operated under these same “no touch” policies.

The results of the experiment on the monkeys and the growth and development of the Romanian orphans were both terrible tragedies; in each case, the results proved to be lifelong emotional and even physical disabilities.

The Power of Touch in My Life

Last year I spent a lot of time with my mother as she suffered through a terminal illness. Due to the nature of her disease, her social circles and interactions shrank down to almost nothing. When people wanted to come and visit, she usually had to refuse.

There were so many times she was anxious and afraid, until my sister or I took her hand. It was such a simple act, but it gave her a connection to this world, to us, to life; it calmed her down and relaxed her. You could see the tension and anxiety melt away.

[Tweet “We feel connected when we reach out and connect — Brene Brown”]

Some mornings I would walk into my parents’ bedroom and find them holding hands. They were sleeping in separate beds because both were so terribly ill–but their arms would be stretched across the space between the beds, holding hands or sometimes just touching fingers; starting their day with the power of touch.

A Hug at the Store

One day my mom told me a story, about an older lady she met at the market 10 or 15 years before. This lady was walking up and down the aisles, asking if anyone needed a hug. As she got closer, my mom watched as most people refused and some even ignored this woman.

When she got to my mom, she decided to say “yes.” Mom told me that it was just a small hug from a sweet old lady.

I’m sure neither of them thought that this would be a life-changing event, but it was–for me; because there we sat years later, talking about this one little hug that had stayed with my mom. It choked me up to think about this whole timeline, and made me reach over and hold my mom so tight.

The Power of TouchYour Power

The power of this one small hug has grown; from my mom to me, and now I want to give this gift, this power to you.

When I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, (affliliate link) by Brene Brown, I found there was a lot to say about the power of touch:

  • We feel connected when we reach out and connect
  • Offering a hand and asking for one comes from the same compassionate place–we have to be able to do both things
  • The connection to others begins with connecting to ourselves–who we really are

I want to challenge you to find that power inside you, and pass it on to someone else. Give a hug, hold a hand; feel the connection, the humanity and the strength you have inside and pass it on.

We’re all the same. We all need that feeling–the power of touch.




  1. Great post Ann. I feel that sometimes compassion is lost in our society. Every night on the news there are instances where people just have no regard for others. Thanks for sharing this touching story!

  2. So very true! I make sure to touch my kids all the time, and hug my husband every morning. If only to remind them that we’re all connected.

    The story about your parents holding hands brought a tear to my eye. So lovely!!!

  3. Love this post! Thanks for the reminder. Your post reminded me of that campaign years ago that went something like, “Reach Out and Touch Someone.” 😉

  4. This is such a wonderful post. You’re right that there is a lot of “power in a touch!” It’s hard to believe just how much until you go without it for a long period of time. My love language that I cling to is the physical touch, and if I don’t have it for a period of time it really affects me a lot. So, I can really relate to this post a lot.
    I’m sorry to hear that you too had to deal with your mother having a terminal illness.

  5. Madaline says:

    ONce I read an article in a magazine about a woman who lived in NYC and while she lived among so many people she NEVER got hugs or touches. One day a friend randomly hugged and she cryed and couldn’t stop. It’s amazing how much a simple gesture can mean to someone.

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