Finding Home Within You: Attachment Theory and Your Inner Sanctuary (Part 2)
“Home is in the circle of your arms”
In Part 1 of this post, we started looking at attachment theory and how it’s thought to shape the kind of relationships you have in your life – with others and with yourself. How the relationship patterns you learned as a child might now be shaping your relationships as an adult. How it can maybe even shape the kind of ‘home’ you build within the circle of your arms.
First, we explored “secure attachment”, where you’re free to come and to go. Nurtured, and yet also still encouraged to leave and thrive. Where you have a “secure base” to return to and also to launch yourself from.
Some other attachment possibilities include “ambivalent attachment,” where separation from the other person is upsetting or uncomfortable, but reunion isn’t reassuring… and a sense of worry can accompany you whether you’re together or apart. So it can become hard to want to be close to others (because it feels safer not to get attached in the first place).
And then there’s “avoidant attachment,” where feeling connected in relationship is pretty much avoided. Where many relationships might seem almost interchangeable or of similar value. Where independence comes first.
It’s thought that you learned all of this attachment stuff when you were young. That it was created in relationship with your primary caregivers. Your family.
But then, over the years, it can become something you, yourself, can internalize and recreate. Something you might unwittingly play out again and again in the relationships you craft as an adult.
As John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, put it:
“…as a child grows, the pattern becomes increasingly a property of the child [themselves], which means that [they] tend to impose it, or some derivative of it, upon new relationships…”
And then it can impact our general style of relating to pretty much everyone. Everything. (Even ourselves).
It becomes how we tend to interact in the world…
So how might you be relating?
And how do you experience your internal ‘home’?
Is it a ‘secure base’?
Or do you feel a bit lacklustre about it? (About yourself).
If so, how might you change that feeling? Evolve it? Or maybe decide, as an adult now, how you want to be with yourself (despite whatever relational patterns you may have inherited as a child)?
Which attitudes or reflexes or habits might no longer be needed in your internal life, and may have become just clutter in your inner ‘home’? Blocking your way. Stopping the light from getting in.
Which values or expectations or viewpoints might you have inherited, that just don’t fit with your own internal décor, your own life? (And will you keep these things just for the sake of it? So you don’t risk offending the people who gave them to you. Or could you let them go – and stop comparing how you ‘don’t measure up’ to these things you may not even actually want to measure up to).
And what will you consciously decide to keep? To grow.
Perhaps really looking at your internal ‘home’ in this way – deciding what you’ll let stay and what you’ll let go; deciding how you want to be in relationship with yourself as an adult – you could create your own internal secure base.
And build a truly nurturing home for yourself, in the circle of your arms…
Reference: Bowlby, J (2005) A Secure Base: Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory, Taylor and Francis, p.143.
Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Finding Home Within You: Attachment Theory and Your Inner Sanctuary (Part 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on May 6, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within/2011/04/finding-home-within-you-attachment-theory-and-your-inner-sanctuary-part-2/