Every child needs to know they are loved. So how we interact as children with our parents and caregivers has a hugely significant influence on who we become as adults.
In fact, what someone thinks of as their character traits and what others see as their characteristics may not really be their real self at all. What is seen as someone’s traits are frequently actually coping mechanisms that they’ve developed in childhood and then continued with throughout their adult lifetime.
“It’s not a conscious choice; it’s more an automatic decision the young self makes to stay afloat in stressful emotional waters,” explains physician, author and addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté. “Through no conscious will of your own, and for perfectly understandable reasons that had to do with your own emotional survival and thus were valid at the time, you have developed a personality style that has turned out to be bad for your health in the long run.”
Trauma, toxic shame and a failure of love
That is it’s bad for your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing. It will always cause internal conflict that can show as depression, anxiety or addiction if how you are is different from who you’re meant to be.
Much of recovery is about this, finding the real person again. This is why in fact it’s called recovery. It is recovering the real person as they were made before various negative things happened that had various negative impacts.
This is such as trauma or toxic shame that caused someone to develop new ways to be – so they could cope and survive. Psychiatrist and author Dr. Peter Breggin actually thinks there is one thing behind every mental disorder – what he terms a “failure of love”.
“Unlike most creatures, we humans are born with an essentially fetal brain, which leaves us totally dependent upon others,” says Dr. Breggin. “Nurturing in the first few years of life guides the development and expression of our social nature and our power as a species to survive and to thrive, and lack of that nurturing leads to psychological and social impairments.”
What are the four attachment styles?
One of the most basic and essential parts of life is our interaction with others. It is no wonder that our childhood years shape how we are in our relationships.
Many mental health and relationship experts believe our attachment styles are formed depending on how as children we interact with our parents and/or significant caregivers. Psychotherapist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) formed certain theories about love that are the roots of today’s understanding of this.
Then in the 1950s, psychologist and psychiatrist John Bowlby (1907-1990) started looking extensively into relationships. He identified four types of distinct attachment styles that arise as a result of our childhood experiences.
These are still used by mental health and relationship experts to help people today. They are:
If a child feels certain they will remain safely loved because someone is always there for them, they are likely to form loving relationships when they reach adulthood. As a child they see that their needs will be met, their emotions recognized and validated.
So they form the idea that they will always be loved and that in general people are trustworthy. They feel secure, so they will form long-term healthy relationships without fear of abandonment.
Also referred to as ambivalent attachment, anxious-preoccupied, or ambivalent-anxious, this attachment style comes about when a child has an inconsistent parenting pattern. That is, one day a parent (or both parents) is there for them – but the next day the parent or parents are in some way absent and not there for them.
This leaves them anxious as to which type of care they are going to get for their needs. To cope, they will continually seek approval from their parents and they will develop a fear of being abandoned. In adulthood, this means they are often extremely needy in their relationships, constantly feeling unloved, and are unlikely to be very trusting.
This is an attachment style that forms due to a child having unmet needs as they grew up. So there was rarely or never an adult around to listen to their emotions, validate how they felt, or show them love.
In adulthood, they cope with this by avoiding relationships – and this can include subconsciously sabotaging any relationship that starts to develop or that has progressed to a certain point that they feel is getting too intimate. This is often due to the fear of abandonment again and the negative feelings that would come back to remind them of being a child who was not properly cared for or loved.
They are often fiercely independent. But they will almost certainly not be in a romantic relationship and in fact frequently spend time alone.
This is a combination of anxious and avoidant attachment styles. It forms because a child’s parents become a source of fear rather than the source of safe wellbeing they should have been.
So people with the Disorganized Attachment style do not really know what to do regarding relationships. Usually, they desperately want to love and feel loved. But they are afraid to let anyone get too close. There is an overwhelming fear that those who are closest to them could also hurt them.
Thankfully, there are proven successful methods to move on from any problematic relationship style. Anyone is capable of having a loving and healthy functional relationship, romantic or otherwise.
As a family-run recovery center, everybody who chooses to spend time with us in our home here is seen as one of the family. We fully understand how vital it is for recovery to have a supportive, calm, and loving environment.
Our expert team has decades of expertise in looking after and guiding people with all emotional problems and mental health conditions. Call us today to have a chat about how we can help you or someone you know.
Rejection can be a hard fact of living whether it’s from a relationship, work or another part of life. But rejection is not necessarily a bad thing.
That’s because there’s a positive phrase to keep in mind if ever rejected – “rejection is protection”. It means that sometimes a rejection is actually for our own good.
Consider it like this: as children sometimes we wanted to do something but the idea was rejected by our parents. It left us feeling rejected and usually dejected.
Yet if it was such as going for a bike ride alone aged eight into the middle of a busy town, we can now easily see as adults why that idea would be rejected. Quite clearly, to protect us.
Even so, rejection can be difficult to handle. It can even lead to anxiety and depression.
One reason that it can be difficult is that it actually is pain. This has been scientifically proven.
Rejection is pain
A University of Michigan study of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans discovered that rejection activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain.
“Spilling a hot cup of coffee on yourself and thinking about how rejected you feel when you look at the picture of a person that you recently experienced an unwanted break-up with may seem to elicit very different types of pain,” said University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article on the research that was published in peer-reviewed journal PNAS. “But this research shows that they may be even more similar than initially thought.”
Some experts believe that the pain of rejection actually helped our ancestors survive. Rejection confounds our basic need to belong.
This is because when we were wholly dependent on being part of a group or tribe, the pain of rejection from that group kept people together because it stopped people doing things that could lead to such rejection.
Of course, our modern world is much different – and that painful feeling that rejection can give still exists. But, thankfully, there are some positive ways to deal with rejection.
Learn and grow from it
There’s a mantra that’s worth remembering here: no such things as bad things – just things to learn and grow from.
While it could be discussed if that’s always the case, regarding rejection it certainly can be applied.
Someone who’s emotionally strong will ask themselves: “What did I get from this, what is this rejection telling me?”. In this way, they can learn from any rejection.
It becomes a chance to grow rather than to shrink in pain. Every rejection consequently makes them stronger.
It is as philosopher Nietzsche wrote at the end of the 1800s: “What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
With rejection, we can also look at what part we might have played in it. This is not to be harsh on ourselves, but to understand and then learn from it.
Keep uppermost in mind that self-examination like this is not at all the same thing as self-criticism. The latter will only make us feel worse – so chase away any of these self-sabotaging thoughts.
A much better option is to acknowledge the emotions. Attempting to deny the pain by convincing yourself it was nothing significant or by trying to mask or numb it will usually only prolong the pain.
So look at how you feel – head-on. Many people find they need help to do this from a therapist who has expertise in these matters.
Rejection is protection
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing,” said writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard.
This can also be useful when dealing with rejection when we consider that criticism is often a verbal rejection of someone or something they did. So one way to avoid rejection is to do nothing…
But of course that’s not living at all. Emotionally strong people know that a rejection shows they’re fully living life.
If someone has never been rejected you can be almost certain that they are simply living inside their safe but unexciting comfort zone. They stay there even if it’s actually become uncomfortable and boring.
The next time you’re rejected, also remember another time that you felt the pain of rejection. Yet some time afterwards we can recognize that a rejection was in fact a blessing in disguise.
That job interview led to a rejection letter for the job you really wanted at the time or that business you tried didn’t work – so it was a form of rejection. Yet the rejection was because there was a better job for you that you wouldn’t have applied for if you’d started at the first job.
Or there was a new business idea you put into plan that became a great success and you’d never have thought of it or had time to do it if the other business idea had worked out.
It’s the same with relationships. So you got rejected as a teenager, but then you met your present partner who you probably wouldn’t have got together with had the teenage you not been rejected.
List your qualities
Speak to yourself in your mind like you would someone you deeply care about such as a friend or one of your children. Shove out that inner critic by repeating useful positive affirmations that will keep you emotionally strong.
A rejection or even series of rejections should never define who you are. You are much more than that.
Something that’s helpful is to list all your qualities. Read through them – and keep them in your mind.
Build yourself up again. Stay confident – and bounce back even better.
Infidelity undermines the very foundation of marriage in many ways. It causes heartbreak and devastation, loneliness, feelings of betrayal, and confusion to one or both spouses in a marriage.
Some marriages break after an affair. Others survive, become stronger and more intimate.
What Is Considered an Affair?
The definition of an affair varies between partners or couples. For instance, an emotional affair is still considered infidelity for some people, despite the absence of a physical connection.
A person may consider watching pornography as cheating, while another may not. Some people may only view affairs as sex outside the relationship. However, emotional affairs of any kind are harmful to the marriage. It could mean that the straying partner no longer invests in the relationship.
Affairs take many forms. While certain kinds are very clear-cut, others vary. Each party should define their interpretation of an affair in the context of marriage and their expectations for each other.
Types of Infidelity
This happens when a partner neglects the relationship to follow an interest outside the marriage. The pursuit can get to an obsessive point.
One partner has sex outside the relationship without an emotional attachment to the other person. According to some studies, women are more likely to forgive an affair if there’s no emotional connection than men.
Online infidelity is a brief emotional involvement with someone met online with no immediate intention of physical, sexual intimacy. It takes place via sexting and chatting. This includes watching pornography.
An emotional affair is a romantic relationship in which one partner establishes an intimate relationship with someone outside the marriage. The outside individual is often of the opposite gender, and the unfaithful partner may spend much time communicating with them.
The unfaithful partner can discuss problems within the relationship with the outsider and neglect their partner. Sex isn’t always involved in an emotional affair.
An affair that combines sexual and emotional intimacy is often considered a secondary relationship.
Reasons Why Affairs Happen
Lack of Satisfaction in The Relationship
For a relationship to be successful, both partners should feel stable and secure in all aspects. Aside from physical intimacy, this also requires emotional intimacy.
If one of these areas is lacking, the relationship begins to feel unsatisfactory, increasing the likelihood of having an affair.
Feeling undervalued can relate to unrealistic expectations of a partner rather than actual neglect. For example, when both partners are working, women mainly handle household duties and childcare. In such a case, an affair validates the other person’s sense of worth.
Body Image and Age
Most middle-aged people have affairs with younger women/men as a way for them to prove that they’re still attractive. A spouse can blame the affair on the partner’ letting himself/herself go.’
Prolonged periods apart can present an opportunity for affairs. For instance, traveling for work or enlisting in the military. The absence facilitates a lower risk of getting caught and can lead to loneliness and resentment.
While long-distance is not ideal for marriage, there are alternative ways to strengthen the marriage when apart.
Other common reasons outside of sex that contribute to infidelity include:
– Lack of affection and commitment
– Lack of emotional intimacy, fondness, and caring for each other
– Breakdown of communication that relates to emotional needs
– Physical health issues, such as chronic pain or disability
– Mental health issues including depression, anxiety, ADD, learning disabilities, or bipolar disorder
– Substance abuse and addiction, including addiction to sex, gambling, drugs or alcohol
– Unaddressed marital problems that have accumulated over the years
– Personal unhappiness, avoidance of personal or relationship problems
– Low self-esteem, boredom, and desire for new sexual experiences
– To end the main relationship
Effects of Infidelity on the Uninvolved Partner
The effects of infidelity spread to other people besides the spouses, such as children. They affect the other partner both physically and mentally, making them experience;
Anxiety and depression
Rage and posttraumatic stress (PTSD)
Increased distress, self-blame, and shame
The affected partners tend to blame themselves for the affair and often wonder if they weren’t enough. It’s important to remember that the decision to cheat is entirely on the other person, even if there were some problems in the relationship before.
Low Confidence and Self-Esteem
It’s common to feel disoriented, as the things that provided a sense of comfort no longer do. Finding a sense of stability within yourself is the key to realizing your strengths and ability to cope with the situation.
Poor Performance Both at Work and Socially
It’s important to avoid making major changes to aspects of your life while in emotional distress due to the affair. Healing takes time, so having a support network of family and friends helps you find ways of addressing the effects of the affair.
Loss of Trust in the Cheating Spouse
The victim of an affair often finds it difficult to trust and doubts their judgment of other people. If they decide on a new relationship, mistrust can follow. It’s important to deal with the trust issues and negative effects of the affair by getting professional help.
People who get cheated on are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. This could be having sex while on drugs, unprotected sex, drug and substance abuse, overeating or under-eating, and over-exercising.
Effects of Infidelity on the Partner Who Cheats
Infidelity also affects the partner involved in the affair, especially if it lasts for extended periods.
An affair can last longer because they may feel it’s challenging to change the situation. The longer it drags on, the more intense the effects will be. Most affairs become exposed, and the fear of speaking up about it harms both partners further.
Additional Effects of Infidelity
In most cases, marital funds get used on the new partner for things such as meals, dates, hotels, gifts, to name a few. This is a form of dissipating marital income.
In the event of a divorce, the court considers this fact when dividing assets, and you may need to reimburse your spouse some amount.
A woman can spend money on personal enhancements such as cosmetic surgery during an affair. If a divorce follows shortly, this act is dissipating marital income as well.
Most couples opt for marriage counseling, with separate individual sessions and joint sessions. This is another financial consequence of having an affair, as therapy sessions cost money.
Another consequence is the loss of income, where one partner loses a job. There are legal fees involved with divorce consultations and counseling for the children involved.
Effects on Children and Family
The emotional turmoil that comes with the discovery of an affair can be intense. If you and your spouse decide to stay married, there are many emotional hurdles to get through.
For instance, there is telling the truth and all details of the affair. There’s a need to reconnect while acknowledging the anger and hurt.
The relationship with your children can suffer significantly if they learn about the affair, whether during or after. Children can end up losing respect and trust in the parent who had an affair.
They can also develop a negative attitude towards the partner who wasn’t involved, feeling like they pushed their spouse to have an affair.
Children can feel betrayed, especially if the affair results in a divorce, interrupting or distorting the family life they have adapted to.
Some children may end up doing the same thing themselves subconsciously once they get married, imitating the parent at fault.
Effects on Sexual Health
Affairs can have sexual health implications, especially where there’s unprotected sex.
They expose the other partner to STIs, some of which have no symptoms. If left untreated, they can have severe consequences on their reproductive health.
Mending a Broken Marriage
Recovering from an affair is a difficult, uncertain, and challenging journey for both spouses.
However, as couples rebuild trust, reconciliation can strengthen and fortify the relationship. Admission of guilt and forgiveness can renew the love and affection between spouses.
Here are some steps that promote healing;
Take some time off – Before making a final decision to stay or leave, take some time to heal and understand the reasons and motivating factors behind the affair. Avoid making rash decisions in emotional distress.
Seek professional help from a marriage counselor or therapist and learn how to prevent an affair from recurring in the future.
Be accountable – If you were at fault, take responsibility for your actions and end the affair, including all interactions and communication with the other person. If the affair was at work, limit interactions with the co-worker to business or find an alternative workplace.
Get help from different sources – Enlist the help of understanding people who will not pass judgment. These can be, trusted friends, experienced spiritual leaders, and qualified counselors.
Look for a licensed therapist who specializes in marital therapy and has experience in dealing with infidelity.
Marriage counseling helps you;
· Think about whether the affair is big enough to affect your marriage and how you can move past it · Identify issues that may have contributed to the affair · Learn how to rebuild and strengthen your relationship · Avoid divorce
If you’re not up for the idea of marriage counseling, consider individual therapy as a channel to explore your feelings and help you ground your choices.
Restore trust – Agree and come up with a plan to restore trust and a process to facilitate reconciliation. If you were unfaithful, admit guilt and seek genuine forgiveness. If your partner was cheating, offer forgiveness where possible and find understanding together.