Attachment, Part I

Several of my recent readings have prompted me to think about the attachments we form in life.   Attachments formed with those significant in our lives–our parents, partners and children, followed by our attachments to objects in our environment such as homes, cars, our way of life.  In addition, we can’t overlook the attachment we form to who we see ourselves as being, defining ourselves by our careers, our interests, the choices we make in life, the image we want to project, both to ourselves and others.  Often we see our attachments or connections, as representative of what defines us.

In her book Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson discusses the problems arising in relationships when our attachment needs are not being met.  In essence, feeling disconnected from our partner can instigate an avalanche of negative thoughts resulting in greater disconnection.  Our fear of feeling as if our partner is not there for us morphs into the more powerful feeling of anger, further fueling the cycle of negative thoughts towards our partner.  Dr. Johnson states that it is the periods of emotional disconnect between couples, rather than conflict which results in failed relationships.

In my own practice with couples I have seen that better communication/conflict management skills are helpful, but not usually the main issue.  Couples need to feel safe enough to be vulnerable with each other.  To be able to say to each other, in word and deed, that they are afraid, that they want to be accepted by each other, and that they will be there for each other.

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Awareness

Often the beginning of a new year stimulates our desire to create a fresh start.  We want to accomplish something, improve ourselves, create stronger relatonships, move up in our career, or find a new career.  We are apt to grow tired of our creeping dissatisfaction.  We want more.  Clients are most likely to enter therapy or hire a personal coach at this time than  any other time of the year.

Yet, how do we find the balance between wanting to be more and do more, but avoid the continual chase towards something perpetually beyond our grasp?  In other words, how do we know when we should be pushing ourselves to achieve more, or when we need to be still, opening our awareness up to what has been around us all along?

There are no easy answers.   I believe that when it comes to what we want in our lives, when we feel the need to choose between action and awareness, we must start with awareness.  We must take the time to be still, assess what and who is around us, noticing how we mesh with those in our environment.  Only then can we decide whether to move forward toward a goal, or create a broader goal to deepen the embrace of what, and who we already have.  When in doubt, action is more likely to grow from awareness.