This podcast looks at the relationship between the kind of attachment we form as children with our parents or primary care givers and its impact on our relationship with ourselves and people in our later lives.
I then go on to discuss how IFS can help us heal the feelings of sadness, shame, frustration and pain that often develop from negative “attachment styles”.
As background to the show, it’s important to have an understanding of attachment theory.
If you were born into a family where you had a consistent primary caregiver who was sensitive and attuned to your emotional needs, then you have secure attachment.
When you grow up and relate to others in intimate relationships, you do so with openness, optimism, flexibility and expecting the best in return.
You tend not to react in extreme ways to protect yourself because you’re expecting a lack of attention and care rather than connection and response. You’re resilient.
You would not expect to be left of abandoned around your emotions and needs.
Because of your secure early interactions you have created a sense that the world is safe and your needs will be met. That means you will be less likely to expect rejection or abandonment from others so you can move towards others with confidence and share generously when needed.
When disappointment in romantic relationships happen, you’re more likely to seek comfort from others and not withdraw and be alone as a cure.
So you’re more like to recover from this setback quickly.
This way of attaching and relating is a secure attachment pattern. Your style of attaching or bonding is a direct result of how you well your parents were tuned in to you as a child and met your needs.
In a home where parents or primary caretakers do not put their infant’s needs before their own, it is very likely that an insecure attachment is formed.
This happens where parents aren’t sensitive towards the infant, perhaps ignoring or misreading the infant’s signals, so the infant’s needs are not met.
The parents could just be unskilled, or are rejecting and chronically ignoring the child’s efforts to get the care and comfort they need.
Or, parents who are insecure and feel inadequate themselves may seek out comfort from their child, unintentionally reversing the role between child and parent.
These ways of parenting in a child’s early years lead to insecure attachment that shows up in adult romantic relationships.
Adults with this insecure pattern of connecting are more likely to anticipate rejection. Or they don’t even consider seeking out care, comfort and support in their intimate relationships. Locked in their bodies and encoded in their memories are the experiences of not getting their needs met and the emotions that go along with these unrewarding experiences.