Up until the age of two our brain is growing at a furious rate. The neurons are connecting, and the brain is being wired, literally. In the relationship with our primary care giver (usually the mother) we are being wired for relationship. As children we depend on this person for food, love, understanding and survival, so we adapt out behaviour to suit the situation we are experiencing in that relationship to stay live, fed and loved.
If the mother was not available or inconsistent in their availability or even abusive, the attachment bond that was created is called ‘insecure’. Three distinct insecure styles have been identified by researchers:
Ambivalent / anxious – develops clingy and insecure traits as an adult
Avoidant – develops intimacy issues and can be ‘cold’ as an adult
Disorganised – this is a combination of the two above – flips between being clingy and distancing. Often the result of trauma in the relationship with the mother.
This first relational ‘imprint’ continues into adulthood. We have unconscious expectations that the person we are in an adult intimate relationship with, will behave the same way as our mother did. So, if she was unavailable and cold, we will have an expectation that our needs won’t be met by our partner and there is no point in sharing. We may want to be intimate but have no experience of what that feels and looks like from the inside.
If you read through the list and feel that you fall into one of the three insecurely attached groups and have felt the pain of that attachment style over and over again in your intimate relationships, in your friendships and at work, know that you CAN help yourself.
After our detailed exploration of the four styles we will be looking at practical ways we can rewire our personality for more fulfilling relationships.
You CAN go back and rewire that original attachment to create profound shifts and healing in your adult life. I have seen it happen again and again in therapy, so have hope.