When on my path, I had an experience that bridged the gap between eastern spirituality and western psychology.
A little over a year ago now, I started therapy with a new therapist who works specifically with the different child parts inside, to get them secure. It has to do with creating a secure attachment, not just for “adult” me but for all my inner little children too. Here's a little about attachment from my internal experience, study and my overall understanding. There are 3 attachment styles. I experienced all three myself. The names of each style give an idea of what each of them mean.
The first is Anxious, second Avoidant, the third is Secure. You can guess from the names what happens if you have that attachment style. But here's a run down: Anxiously attached people are more or less people who have a tendency to smother, they (or we) are always thinking about the other person and wondering what they are doing, if they love us, or just being overall anxious in the relationship.
Avoidant is as it sounds, too. Avoidant attachment style people generally avoid getting too close. They may have difficulty committing to one relationship, want to keep their options open or are pulling away and getting close and then pulling away and getting close. That's pretty much the dance.
Secure is, well, secure. This person feels pretty solid when it comes to relationships, has an ability to say what they need, and feels confident and comfortable with who they are. There is a kind of inner knowing that they will be alright no matter the circumstances. “With or without a relationship, I’ll be ok.” Whereas with an avoidant, it would be more a careless attitude of “I don’t need you,” and anxious “I’ll die without you.”This is an overall generalization to give you the idea of what these 3 styles look like in relationship.
There is also some nuance. There's another thing that can add onto both anxious and avoidant which is pre-occupied. Pre-occupied is when the attachment is, let’s say, interrupted. It's like someone who is really present one minute and off onto something else the next second. Some people would say it's ADHD tendency or lack of focus. But psychology of attachment calls this pre-occupied.
The reason I want to share all this attachment stuff is I went on a search when I was 25. A search for my purpose here. I didn’t know it at the time, but I knew I was suffering and I needed to change if I was going to live a happy healthy life moving forward. So I started my quest. I ended up studying as much eastern spirituality and health practices as I could. Life definitely got better.
My health improved, my heart was opened to new ideas, cultures and experiences, all of which started to grow me up. But 10 years later, something was still missing. I still felt deep inner wounding and psychological pain, which then turned into physical pain. I had relationship issues, depression and chronic pain.
I started therapy. I had body-centered, cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy and somatic therapy. All of which did not totally solve the problems I held from the deep trauma I experienced as a child. Some helped a little, some a lot for a little while, and some made it worse.
When I found my current therapist, I was worried about working with a man because most of my trauma involved men. But he assured me that it was a good thing for the trauma to come up. That we could work with it when it came up. If it's suppressed, that's when it's most difficult.
So I trusted and we started. He supported me to create an inner mother and father inside me that we introduced to my inner little ones and they started to get to know them and build trust. In a session one day, he told me to picture in my mind all my little ones inside being held by my inner mother and father and them feeling safe, loved and secure. He told me to practice this at home.
So I did. And when I did, the most amazing thing happened. While I was visualizing all my little ones safe and secure in the arms of an inner loving mother and father, I saw an image come to me. It was one I had seen a lot when I was studying eastern spirituality. It was an image of Hanuman ripping his chest open and inside were the divine mother and father sitting. I then realized this is what this image symbolizes. An unconditional loving mother and father inside our hearts.
Secure attachment can be explained like this: when we grow up, if we have parents who are able to meet most of our needs, an internal mother and father get created that become like an inner voice inside of us. It creates the self-talk we may hear. If we had a loving secure mother and father, we hear, “great work,” when we do something and when we make a mistake, we hear, “oh that didn’t work, let's try again another way.”
If we didn’t get that we may hear, “you’re stupid, why can’t you do it right?” and “that is okay but you can do better.” Like nothing is good enough or we are dumb for not being perfect. Of course this is an extreme example.
The point here is that there is good news. If you didn't have a secure mother and father to impart onto you the internal mother and father you needed to create a secure attachment, it's okay. You can still become a secure person. This is amazing news because if statistics are correct, there are between 40% and 60% (depending on the study) of people who are not securely attached.
And studies are showing that securely attached people have higher income, higher cognitive and social skills and are less likely to divorce and suffer from mental illness. If that isn’t enough reason to focus on becoming a securely attached person, I don't know what is. So if you are not already secure or you are having issues with money, relationships and/or your mental/emotional state, I highly recommend someone who can support you in this process.
Note: common sense tells me that only a secure person can help you become a secure person. Someone who has come down that path before you. So do your research. There are tests online to find out your attachment style. And there are few therapists who work with attachment styles and even fewer that do work with individual parts and inner mother father work. If this article peaks your interest and you want to talk more about it or get more resources, please feel free to make a FREE 30 minute session and we can delve into this or any other topic you like.
My personal opinion is that the most important work we will ever do for ourselves, or children and the world is to get ourselves secure. Because as I am learning and becoming more secure myself, I can see and feel that all my money, addiction, mental health and relationship problems all stemmed from not feeling secure in who I am and what I have to share with the world. Now that I’m feeling more secure and as all my inner little ones get safe, I feel more love in my relationships, less worry and stress, better mental health and I am not just sure, but positive, there is more of everything I want and need to come.