Internal attachment issues are often overlooked in patients and in therapy. The signs and symptoms are often diagnosed and medicated without the known root cause being disorganized attachment. Sadly, many parents are entirely unaware of how an infant brain develops and they pay close attention to what they say but not so close attention how they act. These kinds of instabilities in the first couple years of life lead many adults to have a disordered relationship with attachment.
Why do people have attachment issues?
Babies do not perceive the world in the same way as adults. They rely on body language and tension as well as tone to understand what their attachment figure is conveying – kind of like dogs, as much as I hate to use that analogy. Parents who have inconsistent or emotional reactions can contribute to disorganized attachment and an inability to self -soothe in the child thru adulthood, even if they care for their child and don’t neglect them.
According to several sources, our ability to self-soothe and internally regulate develops in patterned and learned behavior in the first two years of life. In order for that part of our brains to develop correctly, children have to learn what attachment is from an attachment figure. They have to learn how to regulate emotions and feelings based on what they are taught about how to react to them by their attachment figure. I’m not talking about the monster under the bed emotions either, I’m talking about things like anger, sadness, disappointment, boredom and fatigue.
How can attachment issues develop?
When a caregiver or attachment figure remains inconsistent and that behavior represents the attachment and soothing figure as well as the scary and unpredictable figure – the child may develop a disordered relationship with attachment. It’s not just about that either, parents doing one thing and saying another or something that doesn’t make sense to the child without fully explaining or addressing concerns (without body signs of frustrations or irritability) can cause the same issue. Parents who provide everything with their jobs but aren’t there to console or provide emotional guidance may also cause a problematic relationship to attachment. Disorganized attachment can also be caused by helicopter parenting and parents that make fun of their children or excessively “pick” at them.
Attachment issues and Dissociation
Sopme people who have PTSD, BPD with dissociation, C-PTSD, DID, OSDD and other dissociative disorders report they don’t see improvement with traditional therapy models but do see improvements if they begin to see their symptoms as an attachment issue. For those who don’t have those diagnosises – the following tips may also still be helpful for dealing with emotions and for anyone who is one a on a path of self discovery.
Read also: What is Structural Dissociation?
3 Tips for healing internal attachment issues
Question your Complaints
If you have a complaint – question it. Question why that thing keeps happening – and don’t accept other people as the problem. Assume that every complaint you have is a sign of internal distress. For example, the reason potential partners don’t call you back may be because of how years of partners treating you poorly have impacted the way you go on dates.
Choose to be mindful of your role in your complaints. Attempt to identify patterns and never assume that another person’s actions are because you aren’t good enough. Remain open-minded to what your sub-conscious tells you and the sensations you feel in your body. Observe them. Learning these things is what learning yourself is all about.
Be Curious not Critical
Almost always after/during questioning your complaints – you’ll start to feel emotions. It may be any part of you, a part that feels anger, vulnerability, shame, or fear – it could actually be anything. Whatever it is – be curious about but do not criticize or judge it. Emotional reactions come from deep in our brain and it isn’t something we can just stop doing – so telling yourself not to act that way or judging your emotions will likely just heighten another emotion or trigger an different emotional state (like anger triggering shame which then triggers guilt etc)
It is important to notice the emotions. Things like anxiety, sadness, and other intense emotions live in our sub-conscious. If you are having trouble identifying with an emotion or even naming what the emotion is, ask internally to your parts, “what is this feeling and where is it coming from?” The most important part is BELIEVING WHAT YOUR PARTS TELLS YOU!
Treat your parts like you’d want to be treated
Emotions are signals that something isn’t quite right. In patients with structural dissociation (BPD, C-PTSD, PTSD, DID, OSDD, and other dissociative disorders) emotions can be synonymous with parts – and that’s what helped us recover the most. Assuming that all emotion is a communication from parts. If that makes a skeptical part of you uncomfortable – that’s ok, it should. Invite that part to an internal meeting. Also – If you don’t feel comfortable calling them “parts” then you can just replace the word “parts” with “emotions: and get the same out of this next part.
Our parts are here to help us get through life. Parts only need to be felt and understood. Parts deserve to be expressed and heard. If we choose to learn from our parts, we will be better able to understand ourselves.
If you wouldn’t want someone to call you lazy when you are feeling depressed, then don’t call your depressed part lazy. If you wouldn’t want someone to tell you to settle down when you are angry – don’t say that to your angry part.
Our experience with healing internal attachment issues
This has been a long a difficult road, we were fighting ourselves for years. Inaccurately identifying all feelings and emotions as “mine” even if they conflicted another feeling I reported having or it didn’t feel like my feeling at all. During therapy in spring of this year, our therapist said one thing that changed our whole entire life – and that was to befriend our parts/alters. Treat them like you want to get to know them and be their best friend. This changed our whole system – for the better – in ways that can’t be described.
We have been doing that ever since and living by these 3 things. I hope it helps anyone and everyone who feels conflicted and torn by parts of them feeling different ways as well as enabling systems and improve their communication and abilities to negotiate in a more positive way.
*Information is for educational purposes only. No one on this site is a medical doctor or can recommend a treatment plan. Consider these tips and consult a therapist or doctor when appropriate.*