The way you attached to your primary caregiver shaped your brain more than anything else. Attachment refers to the manner in which you connect with others. It’s the emotional bond that you develop with the people you are closest to—the people who are there for you and who truly know you. We are biologically driven to attach to others in order to survive. When we perceive threat or danger, we are hard-wired to maintain proximity to someone who will be there for us, and who truly knows us. In this episode, I give an overview of attachment—what it is and why it matters so much to your day-to-day life.
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Neuroscientists now know that the way we attached to our primary caregivers shaped our brains more than anything else. Attachment refers to the manner in which you connect with others. It’s the emotional bond that you develop with the people you are closest to—the people who are there for you and who truly know you. We are biologically driven to attach to others in order to survive. When we perceive threat or danger, we are hard-wired to maintain proximity to someone who will be there for us, and who truly knows us. In this episode, I give an overview of attachment—what it is and why it matters so much to your day-to-day life.
1:40 – When there is relational rupture, the securely attached individual knows that repair is inevitable and it will be here shortly. In other words, secure attachment is embodied hope. It is the bodily based expectation that we will soon feel close and connected again, and it will come about without either one of us having to sacrifice our individuality.
6:35 – Healthy attachment does not equal time spent with the child… Securely attached children are the ones who are hugged when they want to be hugged, and they’re put down when they want to be put down.
14:12 – The infant is utterly dependent on their mother’s ability to regulate their affect for them. So when your body went into a dysregulated state as an infant, you needed mom to soothe you when you were anxious and scared. You needed her to calm you, to bring soothing to your body, so that your affect would go from an 8 or a 9, back down to that safe, secure, comfortable range of 5 to 6. And, conversely, when you were numb and shut down, you needed you mom to stimulate you to bring your affect back up to a 5 or a six. If you had a secure attachment to your mother, you currently know how to regulate your affect. If you didn’t, then you never learned to regulate your affect, and affect regulation, as a result, will be difficult for you.
15:46 – Are you able to maintain a non-anxious presence when there is conflict interpersonally, and you experience stress? Or, does your body—and this is utterly unconscious—does your body seem to quickly either shut down and go numb, or amp up and get anxious and panicked?
18:45 – Something is happening in what’s called the social synapse—the space between you and another person. Their excitement is feeding your excitement. And your excitement is feeding their excitement. And their enjoyment of something beautiful is enhancing your enjoyment of the same beauty. And so, created in the image of a we and not an I, we find ourselves as creatures who are regulated by one another. And nowhere is this more true than in the first year of your life.
22:11 – I hope this brings you some measure of compassion for your own self when you find yourself dysregulated and unable to regulate yourself. This is not a matter of willpower. Your brain—if you are unable to regulate yourself—in states of interpersonal stress; in a fight with someone close to you—then it is because your brain is fundamentally different than someone who can bring regulation to a momentarily dis-regulated, stressed out state. Everyone gets dysregulated in moments of stress. However, securely attached individuals are promptly able to ground themselves again, to soothe themselves again, to calm themselves again, so that they can respond from their true selves, from their core.
24:29 – Attachment determines who you will tend to form close relationships with. A baby strives to tune into his parents. But a baby has no ability to judge whether his parents are healthy, whether they are benevolent, whether their heart towards the baby is good or not. The baby will attach to whoever is there, and so a child in need will gravitate toward the child’s mom’s face, and will run to her whether she is kind or not.
25:25 – As you mature, you will prefer the emotional feel of your relationship with your mother, regardless of how healthy that relationship was. You will lean toward what was true for you as a child. And so the closer that a potential mate matches what you have known and what you are familiar with, the more attracted you will be, the more enticed you will be, the more entranced you will be. The more you will feel that, “oh, this is home, this makes sense, this is where I belong.”
27:00 – Each child needs six things from their caregiver to form a healthy attachment:
You needed your parents to tolerate and even welcome your so-called negative emotions.
You needed your parents to be able to own when they failed you, to acknowledge it, and to seek to rectify whatever harm they did.