Whether we follow a religious path or not, as human beings we all need affection. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Even tough guys need a little affection. Sometimes very little, but they’ve got a soft spot somewhere. Even Hollywood knows it. And they use it in their movies.
But how many people do you know who have tried to deny this essence of human function? Affection is part of the social bond which holds humans together. It helps with anything from families to neighborhoods, even cities.
But why would that be associated with a religious path? Many religions include affection within their community, and even for those outside of it.
As the head of such a group, the Dalai Lama often discusses human needs which apply to all, even those who are not part of his group. At least that is my guess as to why he included the disclaimer.
Why is affection important?
In primates, as well as in humans, the newborn and very young will die without affection from their family. The condition is commonly referred to as “failure to thrive.” That is how important affection is to humans. That’s why zoos have specialists to deal with abandoned animal babies. They need affection.
Think about how you feel when you ask for affection from someone and your request is rejected. Might you say you died a little inside? There is a little bit of truth in that statement. There is also a bit of melodrama and unnecessary emphasis on the negative, so do try to find another way to describe that feeling, OK?
I imagine you can think of a few times in your life where a bit of affection from the right person made everything great, or at least quite a bit better. And, as mentioned in the prior paragraph, there have been times when lack of affection darkened your entire world. But let’s not dwell there, right?
Think of a time when all was well, and use it to clear your mind and your emotional state. Affection is an emotional state, a form of low-grade love. It is an expression of the heart from one person to another, or even towards our pets. And sometimes even that bit of emotional support is enough to keep us going.
Where can I apply this in my life?
With the thought of affection being an emotion, and a flavor of the emotion of love, I imagine you can see it being an important part of anyone’s life, even that of a loner. While I never was a complete loner, I didn’t have too many friends, but I always had the number of friends I needed, as well as the level of affection I needed.
How does the level of affection in your life impact your emotions and on your attitude? Have you ever been in a place where you had too many people giving you too much affection? Well, besides from all of your aunts, at that birthday party, when you turned six or seven years old. You’ve seen that in a movie somewhere, right?
For most of us, affection is something we have some need for, and we usually have some way of getting. But how do we get that affection? Some people are willing to trade anything to get some, even if it is only for a short period of time. We might call them a victim of abuse, they might call it gaining affection.
Think about that for a moment. Might that explain one of the reasons a person might stay in an unhealthy relationship or profession? I’m sure it is rarely that simple, but could it be part of the equation? From what I understand, it does play into the decisions made by some. And that is a very sad state of affairs.
So how do you go about getting affection? Do you cultivate friends who seem likely to be affectionate? Or do you already have enough? How do you presently get affection? Is it mostly from one person, or do you get a little from each of a bunch of people? How much does a pet or other non-human friend contribute?
What can you do to get more, if you feel a need to get more? Do you have a plan for what you will do to replace the affection lost if someone moves on or moves away? Will it be easy, or will it be hard? Have you found new friends by accident, or do you have a plan for finding like-minded people?
Take a moment and consider your affections, both what you give and what you receive. Is either enough? Should you give more? To one, or spread out to many? Would you be better if you received a little more? How would you go about finding more? What methods do you use to find more? How healthy are those methods? Do you need a better method?
This post is more about introspection and examining your own life than it is about a concrete set of actions. You will have to answer these questions for yourself, and figure out what is appropriate for you to do. As usual, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We are all unique, we are all different, as are our needs and our requirements.