Gentle your way in

A person who has developed fear for the presence of others, will find it scary when we try to make deeper contact. As long as out contacts are functional, the person may be able to handle it, but when we try to make contact with his heart, he will feel insecure.


If we want to teach the person to feel safe with us and loved by us, and also to feel loving towards us and connected with us, we have to find a way to make contract from heart to heart: from our heart we have to make contact with the heart of the person. Only then we can develop companionship and we create the foundation for his further development from within.


In the three images this process is explained.

The circle on the left is the person with his broken heart and the circle around him is the space we can’t enter without evoking fear.
The circle on the right represents the caregiver, hopefully without a broken heart. The circle around the heart of the caregiver may not be a circle of fear, but it's a mental space which makes it difficult to really make contact from out his heart with the person. This space is caused by judgments over the person or his behaviors, by negative experiences in the past, fear for the future, etc.

The puzzle at the bottom represents any activity you can do together the person is used to, and which gives you the opportunity to come close to him and make functional contact.

To make real contact from heart to heart, we have to do two things. First we have to open our own mental space. We do this by letting go all our thoughts and ideas about the person and focus on his feelings and the emotional support he needs from us. This will open our space and our heart.


Second, we let go the attention to the activity, and from our heart we start moving (emotionally) towards the person. The intention is to make real contact from heart to heart. But there is one important rule. As soon as one of the two feels insecure, we move back and continue with the activity for a while. The activity is the safe area. When we both feel relaxed again, we start to move in again. Each time we try to make more intense and longer contact.


You can use all kind of activities. The most important criteria for choosing an activity are

  • an activity the person is already used to do with us
  • an activity which doesn't ask much concentration
  • an activity we can easily interrupt to make real contact

Examples of activities are walking together, helping with daily personal care, doing the dishes together, playing together, watching television, chatting about what happened during the day, etc.

It's important to train yourself in this technique of gentling your way in. We are not used to make real contact during activities we do with people. Usually our focus is on the activity and not on the person. We can be doing something together for 30 minutes, without real contact. We are just involved in the same activity at the same time and we have only exchanged functional information.