Attachment disorders are an important part of spiritual discussion. We have heard a lot about inner child work. The extension of that talk is the attachment patterns. How we connect or don’t connect with our caregivers has a huge impact on not just our physical lives, but our spiritual journeys. Improper attachments leave us with lifelong suffering and heartache and even make our spiritual journey more difficult than what it needs to be.
When we bring awareness to such issues, it can help us to not only heal but to strengthen our relationship with our Higher Selves as well. Up until now, I had no idea why I was not able to connect with my Higher Self like I had heard others speak of. I had a dismissive attitude towards some things in my life and that affect permeated into my relationship with my Higher Self. It wasn’t until I began to read a book on attachment disorders that I realized the reason for my lack of connection with my Higher Self. I am a 7th initiate. It did not make sense to me that I was still very much disconnected from my Higher Self. It bothered me that I did not want to connect with my Higher Self. When I did, it took a lot of energy to connect with my Higher Self. Although intuitively I felt that it was related to my issues with my mother, I did not realize how much of an impact my childhood upbringing had on my relationship with my Higher Self and my lack of trust in myself and in my Higher Self. Making this an important topic of discussion.
In general, we form attachments to our caregivers when we are little. It is a primal biological need. Without attaching to our caregivers, we would not survive. Hence the need to attach is built into our neurology, biology, and physiology. It is something we cannot escape.
When the caregiver responds to our cries consistently by comforting us, feeding us, changing us or simply holding us, we learn to trust our caregiver. Through this, we learn to trust in life, and that life will provide for us. We learn that we can be safe in our environment. From this place of safety, we feel secure enough to explore our world and take healthy risks. This forms a trusting bond. This kind of attachment is called secure attachment.
However, insecure attachments happen when our caregiver is not able to be there for us on a consistent basis, whether it be emotionally or physically. This leads to feelings of rejection in the infant and the young child. The child then begins to avoid the parent because the rejection is too painful to bear.
These behavioral patterns, unless we learn to heal our wounds, affect us the rest of our lives and are peppered into all of our relationships. This is why the seers of India say that all of your relationships are based on the kind of relationship you have with your parents. This includes the relationship you have with not just your partner, but your kids, your business, your finances, your job, so on and so forth.
These effects also affect our spiritual journey, in ways we don’t even realize. Awareness is the key to healing. It is my intention to bring awareness to your attachment wounds so that you may begin the process of healing.
For these reasons, attachments are an important part of a spiritual discussion. I feel much healing can be gleaned from it when you become aware of the kind of attachments you have formed with your caregivers.
The Insecure attachment wounds have three different subtypes. For the sake of deeper understanding, each subtype deserves a little bit of discussion.
Avoidant: Avoidant attachments form when you don’t feel safe with your caregiver. This usually happens when some harm has been caused by the caregiver on a repeated, consistent basis. The harm can be emotional, psychological or physical. It can be portrayed as aversion to physical contact when the child approaches the caregiver. In the extreme cases, there can be outright abuse.
In this type of attachment wound, the child does not feel safe reaching out to their caregiver in time of need. They begin to avoid the caregiver because they are afraid of more rejection than what they have already experienced and don’t want to upset their caregiver even more and risk further rejection. As a way to deal with this highly painful emotion, he/she shuts down their need for attachment. In doing so, they develop a strong sense of separation from others. They begin to believe that they are separate from everyone else. They lose all sense of belongingness and live more in separation consciousness rather than unity consciousness. This is the beginning of consciousness of separation in this lifetime.
As adults, they are isolated and are loners. They don’t even think to reach out for help because they have trained themselves to not reach out, so that thought never even crosses their mind. They have shut that part of themselves down at grave expenses including their physical health.
As mentioned earlier, wanting to attach to the caregiver is an important primal response. It is how we learn to survive. So, to shut down this drive takes a lot of effort and energy and leads to feelings of heartbreaking loneliness, lack of relationships, difficulty with their jobs or running their own businesses, and suffering in general.
These people often appear aloof and dismissive because they are so tuned in to themselves that they are not aware of what is going on around them. It takes them a while to come out from themselves and connect to another person.
Having said that, the symptoms of avoidant attachment wounds are not necessarily this severe. They can present themselves intermittently in subtle ways. One example is that when you are in a relationship, you occasionally shut down emotionally and block the other person out. This is an avoidant behavior rearing its head.
How does this define our relationship with our Higher Selves? We simply avoid contact. We don’t even think to ask for help and are shut down. We don’t have the insight that we can ask for help. We have difficulty trusting our Higher Selves. This makes it challenging to deepen your relationship with your Higher Self and affects both of you on many levels.
The second type of insecure attachment disorder is:
Ambivalent: This type of attachment disorder happens when the caregiver is inconsistent. This leads to lack of trust in the caregiver and life in general. Because of the inconsistency of the caregiver’s behavior, the child never knows what to expect. So even when they are with the caregiver, they expect to be dropped any moment. They don’t know when that off switch in the caregiver will present itself. This leads to them being anxious all the time. Often times these infants are inconsolable in spite of repeated attempts to console him/her. They are extremely anxious even when they are in the presence of the caregiver.
This form of attachment disorder manifests itself in the child as clinginess, neediness. As adults they tend to be clingy in their relationships. They tend to share too much detail when explaining things in hopes to establish a steady connection with the one they are relating to. They constantly seek reassurance from others.
Both forms of insecure attachment wounds lead to dysfunction in relationships.
Third form of insecure attachment is:
Disorganized: In this attachment pattern, the person has characteristics of both the avoidant and the ambivalent attachments. This makes life very difficult. First, it is hard for them to establish any connection whatsoever. If and when they do, they are so clingy that they drive people away leaving them feeling isolated and unworthy, which generates the vicious cycle of unworthiness that they are stuck in. It is extremely difficult for these people to break out of this cycle.
I have now realized that I suffer from severe case of Disorganized attachment disorder. I have been trying to avoid a relationship with my Higher Self, and the times I do connect, I am clingy. Of course, when I am in this state of mind, I don’t feel comforted by her, which leads me to go into isolation yet one more time. It has been (without realizing) a love/hate relationship with her. Leaving me feeling hopeless and helpless. What has made it easier is the knowledge about these attachment disorders. Bringing awareness to this issue has not only helped me to understand why I behave the way I do towards my Higher Self, but it has also helped me to gain compassion for myself. Also, knowledge about the attachment disorders has helped me to understand the inner child work at a much deeper level. I am applying these principles to my inner children in order to help soothe and integrate them into my being-ness in a much deeper way.
I have also come to realize that knowledge about parenting is essential to inner child work. It provides us with another tool to help heel that deeply wounded inner part of us that is desperate for Love.
Look out for our blog next month where I will talk about how the attachments wounds lead to poor physical health. Stay tuned!
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