How our Childhood Affects our Relationships

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

We cannot survive in a healthy state without secure attachments. We are born to connect. It is biologically wired in our brains, it is a fundamental, basic human need.

And our blueprint for how we love and connect to each other, and manage threat and conflict is given to us in childhood. As kids, we are sponges, and we subconsciously form attachment styles. This means: we form our level of differentiation from our caregivers and each other, we form our beliefs about connection, whether we’re worthy of connection, whether connection is safe or dangerous and what connection means.

Secure attachment means secure identity, insecure attachment can mean having to abandon yourself as the only way to achieve closeness.

The way we interact, the way we handle stress, the way we turn towards others and learn to get our needs met, what we learn to value, our belief systems is all given to us in childhood.

These become our mental and emotional filters and they affect how we perceive the world.

Obviously, we can change and reassess these filters as we learn critical thinking skills, but when we’re a tiny sponge with a developing brain, we automatically inherit these ways of being, filters and transgenerational trauma, and we carry this into adulthood.

We seek partners with similar traits to our primary caregivers: both positive and negative. This means our partner is likely going to trigger us the same way we were wounded in childhood.

It is a calling and an opportunity to heal whatever unmet needs and unhealed wounds are lingering from our past.

We need to understand that there is a part of our mind that sees our current adult relationships through the filters of our unhealed wounds.

Our relationships are our biggest mirrors for what is going on internally. They serve to illuminate what needs to be healed within us. When we first meet someone, our brain is flooded with a chemical cocktail of oxytocin and dopamine. This is called the limerence phase of a relationship or the honeymoon period. Although it’s wonderful, unfortunately this can set us up for illusion if we use this feeling state as our barometer for a healthy relationship. What I mean by that is, if we expect our relationships to be positive and easy and in a state of drunken bliss all the time, then that’s up to us, and our internal filters, independent of our external circumstances, because those emotions originate from inside us. Not someone else (ie, our partner).

If we expect the source of our happiness to come externally, from our partners, them to cure us of our loneliness, our inner emptiness, them to be responsible for our moods, then we’re going to have a power struggle. Why? Because we’re no longer in charge of our emotions, we’re not in an empowered state, and we’re missing a huge opportunity to grow and develop our emotional self-reliance.

Now obviously if we’re in an abusive relationship, we need to leave and prioritise our peace and safety. But if we’re in a normal relationship, it’s important to know we’re not always going to feel happy in our relationships, because we’re not always going to feel happy within ourselves. When we stop putting the responsibility on to our partners to make us fulfilled, and we use whatever conflict arises to explore our unhealed wounds and reassess our expectations instead of defending our egos and struggling with power, we are able to go through the fire. We are able to move through the period of sobriety when those rose-coloured glasses come off after the limerence phase, and see what’s on the other side, and deepen our growth and intimacy and connection with ourselves and one another.

#relationships #couplescounselling #honeymoonperiod #conflictresolution

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