I went with the group that did free hugs today. It was so much fun. I had talked to the organizer to let him know of how I just wanted to be there to watch and observe and he was very understanding of it. I stayed with them for about 3 hours, it was incredible watching it. They gave me the camera, so I took a lot of pictures and videos of the event for a while. It was so much fun observing it, people were laughing so much, the huggers, the huggees, and I was laughing and having so much fun from watching them and taking pictures and being around them. It was such a healthy feeling. One girl said that was the most fun she's had in the 6 years she's lived in this city.
I even got hugged a few times without holding a sign! Sometimes, there'd be 3 or more of them in a row holding a sign, and I was at the end with no sign, just talking to one of them. More then once, someone would come and hug every single one of them, and then come to me, and they'd just hug me too assuming I was one of them
. So I got some hugs that way too and I enjoyed them.
After being there for an hour, I got comfortable enough that I went and hugged all of the people holding the "Free Hug" sign (there was about 6-7 of them). That was fun too
It was truly amazing watching it (and taking pictures and filming it). Even though these people holding the free hugs were getting rejected by probably 80-95% of the people walking by, because there was so many people walking by (this was a very very very busy sidewalk), they were still getting so many hugs. They were laughting, and having so much fun even when there'd be a moment where nobody would be hugging them. I even saw a car stop by the side of the road, and 4-5 girls came out to hug the girl that was holding the sign near the street.
I also saw guys hugging guys - plenty of that. I had some guys hug me, and even though I can't recall a time in my life where I hugged a guy I wasn't really good friends with, I didn't mind it at all and it was fun. I even saw more then one though-looking thuggish guys with tattoos go all huggy on guys and girls who were holding the sign. It was interesting watching peoples's behavior - how some people were laughing, how so many people took pictures of this event, how some would just go and hug one person, and some would go and hug everyone who held a sign (there was about 6-7 holding the sign). A lot of people ignored those holding the signs too, or would smile and go on. There were so many different reactions. However, whenever there was hugging, it felt and seemed like friends hugging and it felt like so many reunions so much of the time.
Then near the end, I decided to go ahead and hold the sign up for about 5-10 minutes. So I did that and I got some hugs, and it was great! I really enjoyed it! Even 2-3 people had their friend take pictures of me hugging them
I also heard one girl remark to her friend that the picture she took of her friend hugging me was a really great picture
However, I was able to hold the sign only when there were other people holding the sign right next to me - actually when I had one of them to each of my side. Even though I felt a lot of anxiety and I wasn't that comfortable with the sign, I was still able to do it and be open to get hugged. It felt like we were doing this as a group and I was just one of the group.
However, when the people with the signs next to me moved away from me to walk around on their own, I couldn't hold the sign anymore - this overwhelming feeling of "who the hell am I to hold that sign - I can't let people think I expect them to want to give me a hug" overwhelmed me and I had to put the sign down. It's related to that old belief I mentioned above where I have this strong emotional sense that can at times overwhelm and freeze me where I feel that it's dangerous for me to show that I might expect others to care for me, or to show affection such as by hugging me.
So, it's not that I mind getting rejected, in truth, I remember now putting myself into situations where that doesn't bother me. I remember doing other promotion things in a situation like that for my college as well as for a campus club I was starting. I just set up a table in a high-traffic area and approached hundreds of people walking by my table and asked them to join my club. People would see me as very outgoing, and I was for that time period, I had a lot of fun approaching so many people and didn't care about getting rejected by hundreds so I could come up with 10-20 people who would be interested in coming to my college club's meeting that I was holding that evening.
It's just this affection type thing where that limiting belief comes up. That's frustrating. I need to get serious about implement Angela's advice on overcoming that.
Anyway, I still managed to probably get over a dozen hugs total, which is probably more non-romantic hugs I've gotten in one day then in the entire previous year.
It still felt very good in a very healthy and wholesome way and I'm definitely going back next time we're having it. Probably within another month or so. Maybe by next time, I'll have been able to deal with my emotional limiting belief block, so instead of getting and giving just a dozen hugs, I'll get and give over a hundred hugs
If you have that in your city, I highly recommend you attend one event!