A Perspective on Relationships, Love, Loss, Fear and Healthy Attachments
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sarah May Thorpe BSC MBACP
8th March, 20130 Comments
‘I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’
You may be reading this right because you are struggling in your relationship with yourself or within the family. When I talk about family, I stay mindful of all the different make ups of families, inclusive of all diversities.
We have all kinds of relationships in life however the one with our own self and the closest relationships are the ones that tend to affect us the most. Whether it is with our parents, grandparents, siblings or aunties and uncles, partners or friends. We may find it hard to say what we feel to the people closest to us, this may be fear of losing them or from feeling hurt in some way.
We may ask some questions such as…..
- Is it that we have expectations of one another to behave in a certain way?
- Do we feel that we are expected to do too much in the role we are in?
- Do we expect there to be no rough patches, no disagreements in the relationships we are in?
Our relationships with our primary carers are said to be the key to happiness. When there are tensions in family relationships or separation this affects are wellbeing and sense of belonging.
We generally build strong attachments with one another, when that other person is not there we feel the loss and sadness of their absence. This could be a partner who has left, a child who has left home or a parent who has died, or we may have lost contact with them at some point.
Sometimes we may feel relief or anger, like all loss this can affect us in many different ways and we feel a mix of emotions which are all completely natural. However, has natural as they are, we may feel overwhelmed and struggle at times and need support.
We all have been children and we all have different relationships with our parents. There is no set template of the right way to be a parent.
However, we do know that from years of studies that from being babies having our basic needs met, such as gentle handling, feeding, warmth and love and attention is a good recipe to form close healthy attachments with our main care givers and siblings
Unhealthy attachments form when we are not loved and cared for. When we are ignored, when our needs are neglected. If we are physically hurt regularly or see violence in the home. To be consistently hurt physically or emotionally over a long period of time affects our self-worth and often affects our future relationships. If you look into the studies of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth on attachments you can read the evidence of the long term effects on children and impacts in adulthood.
Family relationships which have strong bonds can have long lasting healthy effects on us. The way we are treated matters and that we listen and we are listened too. Setting boundaries of our own about what is acceptable behaviour and what is not will help children and families to form good relationships.
For e.g. if we allow our children to do whatever they want, we do not teach them to think of themselves and others. In adult relationships we need personal boundaries to enable a trusting, respecting relationship to develop.
Having a firm sense of self helps us to decide what behaviour we will accept and what behaviour is unacceptable. Being our own best friend enables us to care for ourselves and maintain good relationships.
Roles come into relationships, beliefs and values, these all play a lively part in how we will create healthy relationships. How we are parented and then parent will play a significant part in the family make up. Becoming familiar with your own beliefs, values and expectations will help you when forming relationships.
Trust if broken can be hard to regain for some people. Depending on the level of damage. It is important that we try to stay open as possible about our feelings and intentions. Communicating how we feel in the moment. Harbouring feelings can also be known as saving up our stamps, which means we save all our anger, hurt and resentment for a time when it all comes out in one huge explosion. Sound familiar?
Understanding the other person and having shared experiences all contribute to being there for one another when we can be. Of course, relationships like everything else in this life takes practice and we are bound to make many misjudgements in the early days, even later on. We are not perfect and we will get it wrong sometimes. It is only being able to have a good sense of humour and a good sense of our own self that we learn to forgive one another for any hurt we cause, that is not deliberate or intentional.
What matters to you me the most? What are my fears? Questions to consider all of which will help pave our way forward in relationships.
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