If the same issues keep cropping up in your romantic relationships or with friends and family, today’s blog is for you. I’m delving into how your relationships today are shaped by your very first years - and what you can do to uncover your old patterns.
How do you behave in romantic relationships?
How you behave in your relationships, particularly with intimate partners and close friends, is shaped by your very early, preverbal relationship to parents or significant carers.
Our first experience of relationships has a profound and long-lasting effect upon us. It provides a framework for our future adult relationships.
How Attachment Theory helps
The early relationship between parent and child is referred to as Attachment Theory. Two of the most famous proponents of this theory were John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.
Ainsworth conducted research called the Stranger Situation Assessment. Mothers with infants ranging in age from 12-18 months were observed by the researchers in a specifically designed room.
The baby would be observed in different situations, for example, mother and baby alone in the room, mother and baby with a stranger, baby alone, or baby with a stranger.
Some babies would immediately seek out their mother by crawling to the door. Others would cry when left with the stranger. And some babies appeared to show no difference in their reaction to being with mother or the stranger.
These babies will have grown up by now to be adults living their lives. They may be married, single or divorced - with all of their current relationships informed by the quality of the early attachment to their primary caregivers.
Accessing childhood memories
Can you imagine being one of those babies now? Can you Imagine having access to a meticulously observed account of the nature of your first significant relationship? How revealing would that be?
Most of us do not have access to this type of recorded personal history. However, you can examine the nature of your attachments by gaining insight into your early formative years via Analytical Hypnotherapy.
Going on a archaeological mind dig
Childhood and infancy is fundamental in shaping our mental health, emotional wellbeing and physical health in adulthood.
But these crucial formative years remain out of reach of our conscious mind. Accessing our preverbal memories, experiences and emotions doesn't happen in a literal linear way like accessing memories from adult life.
To understand yourself in the present, you need to go on a metaphorical archaeological mind dig. You are searching for historical clues and artefacts from the past that you can piece together in order to make sense of the present.
In Analytical Hypnotherapy, relationships provide us with the perfect archaeological site.
Relationships are full of significant emotional remnants that, when laid out, begin to form a picture of what life was really like for you in those early years, why you behave in a certain way in relationships and why you seek out certain types of partners.
Your choice of intimate partner in the present echos and replicates the patterns and dynamics of your relationship to your parents.
No parent is superhuman
At this point you may start to feel uncomfortable. You may even feel defensive of your parents, guilty for even considering or admitting that they could be less than perfect, or for entertaining the idea that your early relationship with them could be the reason you are struggling now.
When we begin to cast a critical eye over our parents, feeling guilty is par for the course. But this is not about judging; it's about understanding the impact your parents have had on your relationships.
Unless your parents are superhumans they will not have got it 100% right. Given how influential these relationships are, it's worth examining them and resolving any negative self-beliefs that are a result.
Until we resolve the emotional wounds from our childhood relationships, we will keep choosing partners that enable us to recreate the past and feel those same feelings of rejection, anxiety or guilt.
In next weeks blog we’ll be taking a closer look at the different attachment types and how they manifest in your relationships. If you are interested to know your attachment type and would like to better understand the nature of your relationship patterns, sign up for my newsletter here