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How to Stop Re-occurring Relationship Problems

Family-DisputeYou are born into this world into the arms of your parents (caregivers). Your parents will be your caregivers, teachers, coaches, providers, and protectors until you are ready to leave home. They respond appropriately to you ensuring that your needs are meet both physically and emotionally. As you grow, you use this secure base to explore the world and become independent. You grow into an adult who feels safe acknowledged and valued.

Wondering which fairytale that scenario comes from?  This ideal situation does occur but more often than not a child grows up with some elements of this scenario happening, but some other things creep in as well changing the scenario. The type of relationship that we have with our caregivers affects how we conduct relationships as an adult.

John Bowlby proposed the Attachment Theory. The basis of the attachment theory is summed up in saying “The child’s attachment relationship with their primary caregiver leads to the development of an internal working model (Bowlby, 1969).” This internal working model is a cognitive framework comprising mental representations for understanding the world, self, and others.  A person’s interaction with others is guided by memories and expectations from their internal model which influence and help evaluate their contact with others (Bretherton, & Munholland, 1999).

In other words, our experiences with our parents create within us the means by which we understand the world, ourselves and how relationships work.

If you are continually encountering the same problems in your relationships then understanding Attachment Theory. In the tables below there are three types of attachment. There are variations to this, but these are the basic ones. Have a look at the description in the column headed “Experience as a child” in all three tables. Do you identify with the description? If so look in the column headed “How life works for you as an adult.”  Is this your experience as an adult?

 

Secure Attachment
Experience as a child How life works for you as an adult
The child forms an emotional attachment to their caregiver who is sensitive, responsive and consistent in their interactions with them.

 

As the child grows, they start to use their caregiver as a secure base from which they explore the world and become more independent. They grow into an adult who feels safe, acknowledged and valued.

You trust yourself and make decisions on your self-knowledge.

You have the courage to make hard choices

You take responsibility and manage situations well.

You recognize your limits

You are willing to grow to achieve what you want or need.

You are generally accepted and liked by people

You generally like and accept others

You fully understand what you want or need, and can clearly communicate this.

When you ask for what you want or need you can live with what you get.

You work at making relationships successful

You try to do what is best for everyone involved.

You find joy in life, not just happiness.

 

Ambivalent/Anxious Attachment
Experience as a child How life works for you as an adult
Some adults are inconsistent with their parenting.

At times their responses are appropriate and nurturing, but on other occasions, they are intrusive and insensitive.

Children with this kind of parenting are confused and insecure, not knowing what type of treatment to expect.

They often feel suspicious and distrustful of their parent, but at the same time, they act clingy and desperate.

You are liked by people

You are a good person and a good friend.

You put yourself out to help others achieve what is important to them.

You try to please people.

You try to avoid conflict by keeping things inside

You bend and flex to what others want

You don’t let yourself feel the full extent of the anger and resentment that comes with being a people pleaser

You are very sensitive to your internal criticism and fears.

You suffer anxiety and fear by second guessing what will happen and whether people like you

You do so much for others

You try too hard, yet never feel it’s enough

You crave security and trust in relationships, but the fear of rejection causes you to pull back when things get too close

 

 

 

Avoidant Attachment
Experience as a child How life works for you as an adult
The caregiver is insensitive to and unaware of the needs of their children.

They have little or no response when a child is hurting or distressed.

They discourage crying and encourage independence.

Often their children quickly develop into “little adults” who take care of themselves.

These children distance themselves from needing anything from anyone else.

They tend to be self-contained.

 

You are laid back, not pushy and not overly demanding of others.

You do what you’re told but not much else.

Your assessments of yourself are harsh, creating anxiety, and sometimes depression.

You want more distance and less involvement with others

You want to go at your pace

You can be quite stubborn and resist doing things the way others want you to do them.

You find safety in relationships through a lack of attachment or commitment.

 

 

Can you see how your childhood experiences can affect you as an adult? These attachment categories are not as clear cut as shown here, and it is possible to have some elements from each in your life.

I use Attachment Theory extensively in my work with couples and consistently the Attachment Style will predict the dynamics occurring in the relationship.

The good news is that the programming that happened in your childhood can be changed. If you are tired of repeating the same relationship patterns over and over again, then make an appointment with me, and I will show you how to put a stop to it.

 

© Tracey Janke 2016

StartPoint Counselling

07 3458 1725 / 0409 272 115

 

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