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How handholding is the superpower you didn’t know you had

A child's hand held by an adult's hand, both brown-skinned and wearing black

What touch does to help us feel connected and safe

Can you think back to a time when you had to go through something challenging, so you asked a friend or supportive family member to be there with you? Maybe it was something stressful like a medical appointment or a test result. Maybe it was really difficult, like the funeral of someone close to you.

Perhaps that person held your hand while it was happening, or sat right next to you. It probably felt easier having them there to provide emotional support or to advocate for you.

If you’re curious how having someone’s supportive presence changes how we handle difficulty — and what it does for us on a body level — I have a fascinating 13-minute TED talk for you to check out.

In it, psychologist James Coan explains how the presence of another (especially a loved one) calms our nervous system and makes things feel easier and safer for us.

Click here for the talk: Why we hold hands: Dr. James Coan at TEDxCharlottesville 2013

White man with ponytail (Dr Coan) in front of blue TEDtalk background

I love this TED talk because it really illustrates the almost magical effects of soothing touch on our brains and our wellbeing. It’s something I see all the time when working with in-person clients: by the end of a session they’ve visibly shifted into a state that’s slower, more embodied, and more present. (For you nervous system nerds, that’s a regulated Ventral Vagal state ;).

Not only that, Dr. Coan shows how connection is what we are naturally wired for. He says something at the end that is actually quite moving.

➜ What part of the talk really spoke to you, or gave you an a-ha moment?

Leave a comment or message me, I’d love to know.

With love,
~Alison

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