Attachment Theory is the scientific map of how we bond with others to increase our chances of survival! As mammals, we quite literally depend on emotional bonds with others to survive. Scientific studies have continued to underscore that the warmth and quality of our connections is the number one factor predictive of quality of life, longevity, and is even a huge factor in financial stability.
Scientists divide the styles that people adopt to bond into roughly 4 categories. About 50% of the population had a development such that they bond in a “secure style.” The other 50% of the population develop attachment styles such as avoidant, anxious or disorganized.
An anxious attachment style describes a person who finds it very difficult to rest in feelings of safety and security. Wondering if this is you?
Your inner monologue is helpful not only in relationship to better understanding yourself; it can also reveal your state of being — I.e., the quality of your present experience — in your relationship.
This state of being can help you discern whether the kind of thoughts you're having may be signs you're involved in an unhealthy, perhaps even toxic, relationship.
Unhealthy relationships are characterized by insecurity, distrust, preoccupation and disconnection....
In my courses, and in psychotherapy, I guide people towards forming what we call a Securely Functioning Relationship. If you are working with me I am starting with the assumption that this is one of if not your primary goal!
The benefits of a secure bond include your essential life satisfaction, resiliency, insulation from life threatening diseases, better sleep, better moods, better cognitive functioning and athletic or professional performance.
You will hear me referring to this goal as “the land of the extraordinary.” That is because a securely functioning relationship is truly extraordinary-- in experience, and in the benefits it provides.
The term “securely functioning” comes from the language of Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory is the scientific theory that describes how we behave when we bond to another person.
Our Attachment System is the biological system that is activated when we bond to...
A generation ago, marriage was an obvious and assumed step into adulthood and commitment. Today, many people find themselves wondering, is marriage actually the precursor to either commitment or happiness?!
To what extent does marriage define commitment? To what extent does marriage indicate the security and healthy feelings or behaviors that are meant to come with it? Does marriage contribute to, let alone guarantee fidelity, financial security, trust, or happiness?
Let’s face it, marriage does not in and of itself guarantee a commitment.
We are all too aware of the statistics about infidelity and divorce. So walking down the aisle and signing a document do not in any way guarantee a real commitment.
At the same time, the experience of commitment is a necessary component of a healthy, securely functioning bond that lasts.
The reason for this is that commitment provides several necessary psychological conditions necessary for...
Be secure in your relationship.
When anxiety about your relationship attacks, there is a solution to curb those anxious feelings: positive affirmations.
While we don’t choose our feelings, we do choose our belief systems and our belief systems give rise to our feelings and reactions to situations....
The essential reasons to love yourself might include: a. It feels good and b. You’ll be the kind of person you’d want to be with (which means you’ll attract the kind of person you want to be with!).
The reasons for this may not seem obvious. This is because the definition of self love is a little more nuanced than you might think. Self love is not the same as self esteem or feeling proud of your accomplishments. Self love also does not end at self care practices like good hygiene, good boundaries, stress management and exercise.
As my wise 5-year old told me, “you don’t pick your feelings, but you pick your actions” (straight from the mouth of Spidey).
It’s true, we don’t pick our feelings. So it always surprises me when people express feelings of shame, blame...
One of the most powerful relationship skills you can have is knowing what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Most people know what hasn’t worked for them, but have a hard time defining and feeling confident picking a healthy relationship. This is especially tricky because we know that healthy relationships are not “perfect” relationships!
Dr. Judith Wallerstein did some fantastic research about the commonalities of healthy relationships. She was the first researcher to ask what healthy relationships actually felt like to the people in them. Her primary finding was that a healthy relationship feels like a unique, co-created world that the two partners share. Every “world” is different, but this qualitative presence exists in all of the healthy relationships she studied.
How do you know if you’re in a relationship that has this quality, even when it’s hard? Or if you’re beginning a relationship that...
Let’s face it, ending any relationship is difficult. But, if you add toxic elements to one, it becomes even harder. Now this may seem counterintuitive because upon reflection, ending a relationship with someone who is not good for you may seem like a no-brainer, but actually, the surprising reality is that ending a toxic relationship usually involves more mixed feelings and doubts that ending a healthier one.
The reason for this lies in our healthy urge to mend, repair, and make peace with people we are bonded to. In a toxic relationship, this instinct is thwarted.
If two people in a relationship treat each other fairly, they are actually able to come to a reasonable understanding of why they should end a relationship. This conclusion is harder to come by when the relationship is unhealthy.
Why? Because in a toxic relationship, nothing is clear. There is a great deal of manipulation, often involving gaslighting, denial, and...
Absolutely, Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence. In fact, emotional abuse is the most harmful form of domestic violence that people report experiencing.
There are several risk factors making emotional abuse so harmful. For one, many tend to rationalize or normalize emotional abuse, because you can’t “see the bruise.”
However, there is a very real bruise. Chronic abuse is internalized by the victim as a negative sense of self esteem, which lasts a lifetime, unless treated. Further, many do not get treatment for emotional abuse because the scars are not visual or physical, so they do not know that they have been harmed or need help. A further risk factor is the fact that emotional abuse is often a precursor to physical abuse.
Many people do not understand this,...
A committed relationship’s most important quality is its uniqueness! The bond between two different people is the beating heart of the relationship: what makes it a living, breathing, exciting entity unlike any other.
However, there are standard, tried and true components that go into the formation of a committed relationship and allow the differences of two people to remain connected through time.
Like every square has four sides, the “frame” of a committed relationship is the boundary within which the creativity and dynamism of the relationship can occur. Without the frame, the relationship could not exist over time, because it would not have any shape or form. The heart of the relationship would simply bleed out into a dysfunctional non-shape!
I’ll share with you a parallel frame to give you a...
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