Past relationships can poison the future

Professor Tanya Byron was writing in The Times (6/2/17) about commitment phobia. She was answering a question about a woman’s previous failed relationships – or dysfunctional attachments, as she called them.  She wrote, “Attachment theory highlights how the nature of prior attachments, especially those that are related to significant care-givers in childhood, can have a significant impact on the way an individual behaves in relationships in adulthood.  Those who had care-givers who were unavailable, overly intrusive or abusive, may have learnt to be emotionally self-sufficient from a young age and so might develop avoidant tendencies.”

You may recognise some part of yourself even in this brief passage.  It is, of course, useful to understand what makes us tick.  Unfortunately though, it doesn’t stop the ticking.  To stop, or change the ticking you have to FEEL what makes you tick – get under its skin.  It takes more trust and effort than just getting an explanation, but it’s what psychotherapy is about.   It can be very enlightening to go ‘oh I see, it all makes sense now’, you may even feel quite a bit better, but the emotional learnings, the feelings that drive the difficult behaviours or wreck relationships, just don’t understand our clever words.  You need more help to get down to the level where the emotions can change and heal.

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