By the time a child is 3 years old they have taken in astronomical amounts of information -we are created with so many genetic possibilities. So much of which depends on what we recieve from our parenting, the quality of relationship, to see which elements get developed, and which remain underdeveloped. The reality is that that none of us walk away from being parented completely unscathed! No one is perfect, and our parents are not fully responsible for what we missed out on in our childhood. This is due in part to the law of responsibility. We are responsible to finish growing in whatever areas we missed out on the first time around which is great news to parents who often beat themselves up over areas where they recognize that they were imperfect in their parenting.
But what is this astronomical amount of information that a child must take in and receive and begin to appropriate in life?
Children are always learning, and observing, and mirroring what information they see and take in. Kids need to attach and to bond, to learn to separate from mommy and determine who he/she is apart from mom. In the first year of life, they need to learn basic trust, developing a self soothing ability to have a relationship with his/her caretaker in their absence and develop emotional object constancy. Early on in child development, infants do not have enough love or structure within themselves, and require a great deal of nurture. Kids also need to learn to know what their desires are and their limits and to know that these will be respected. They are to learn how to own and take responsibiltiy for their own behavior, feelings, attitudes and abilities. They need to know they are loved no matter what. They need to eventually grow up and leave and become mature adults. But before they finish growing up and developing, they also need to process the imperfect parenting they receive. They may need to learn how to respond to physical or emotional neglect, abuse, deprivation, role reversals, physical abandonment, boundary violations, sexual violations, etc, etc.
That is an incredible amount of information for someone so young to have to learn all at once, which is why we often come away from our childhood feeling like there were pieces missing, unprepared for adulthood or recognizing that perhaps we are incomplete in our development.
My intention is to unpack this a little bit and help fill in the gaps a bit.

Today we will touch on the need to attach and bond. Before we can even begin to understand and appropriate healthy boundaries in our life, we must first be able to bond and attach and connect to someone who is safe and loving and can fill that lack of love that we first come into the world with. Before you can separate and become a complete person, you first need to be a part of something before you can individuate.

Many people struggle with the ability to receive love, due in large part to a lack of attachment or bondedness. Or, you learn enmeshment rather than intimacy, therefore lacking a clear knowledge of what the difference is. Enmeshment happens when your ability to separate and individuate is disrespected. I will touch on that more next week. I am merely trying to show that there are injuries that develop in us that we carry into adulthood as a result of a lack of bondedness, or unhealthy ways in which we bonded, such as sexual abuse as another example.

So what is bondedness? Simply, the ability to emotionally attach to another person on a deep level. The ability to share your deepest thoughts, ideas, dreams, fears, etc with another person and know you are loved and to feel safe. Emotional object constancy is developed over time as you continue to take in enough love, to know that even when the person giving love is not in the same room as you, you are still loved. Now, you may think this is silly that this emotional object constancy can still affect us years later if not enough love was taken in during our formative years, but it is true. Years later, if that part of development is incomplete, a person may feel a deep sense of isolation and aloneness and be unable to cope with such feelings, and needs to find varying ways to cope with a deep sense of emptiness and aloneness that does not go away. This learning to bond idea is really a BIG deal. It is the first step of growth and development, and the most important.

Some symptoms of a failure to bond include: depression, feelings of badness, guilt, sadness, panic, feelings of meaninglessness, emptiness, feelings of unreality, fantasy, addiction, rage, panic, distorted thinking, fear of intimacy, excessive caretaking, etc.

Unfortunately in one blog I don’t have time to get into more detail about how all these things work, but I can say that if you identify with any of this at all, I can leave you with a few simple tools about how to begin the process of bonding. Perhaps at a later time, I will come back to this subject more in depth and give more helpful tools for growth.

But for now I will leave you with this:

Here are a few tools to help you on your way to develp the skills to bond and complete the mothering process in healthy relationships in your current life:

Step 1. Realize the need for it. Often people live without even having an awareness that they need to connect on a deep level because they have lived so long without it that they have developed skills to adapt to the emptiness. Some people don’t even ‘feel’ the emptiness, because it is buried so deeply inside.

Step 2. Make steps to reach out to others. If you see someone who seems like a caring, nurturing individual, make an attempt to develop a friendship with that person to allow yourself the opportunity to learn to receive warmth, empathy and love.

Step 3. Be Vulnerable. This is big. This is hard…. and often feels extremely threatening when you are very disconnected. The fear of a loss of love is so great it prevents you from reaching out and allowing someone “in” to the deeper parts of yourself. Try not to let this fear rule. It will cripple your ability to attach and bond.

Step 4. Challenge your distorted thinking patterns…. such as the fear I just mentioned, or making assumptions about what other people are thinking, and how confident you are that they WILL reject you if you let them in. These distorted thinking patterns could also be about yourself, and how you have erected a wall of protection by saying hateful things about yourself so often until you believe them, and believe that everyone else thinks the same thing about you. Try not to interpret what you think others are thinking of you. When in doubt, ask, instead of assuming.

Step 5. Take risks.

Step 6. Allow yourself to experience dependent feelings.

Step 7. Recognize your defenses.

Step 8. Say yes to allowing yourself to receive love. Allow yourself to be compassionate to yourself instead of critical and give yourself permission to receive.

It may feel right now, like that is too much of a risk for some of you. I tell you from experience, it is not always smooth sailing, and you may get burned here and there, but when you do finally experience what it is like to really receive love, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

My challenge to you today is this: Love, like you’ve never been hurt. Keep reading, because I will blog in a few weeks on how to identify the safe people to be able to attempt this growth challenge with. Stay tuned!!

If you would like more information on Boundaries, check out the Boundary Development Program available on my website.  Hope to see you there!

————-

If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website www.freedomlifelove.com and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.   

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

Advertisements