Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson

Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson

The Book in a Few Sentences

If you want a healthy, mature relationship, read this book. You will learn the cause of your conflict and how to nurture a secure bond for a lifetime of love. Dr. John Gottman calls Sue Johnson "the best couple therapist in the world."

Hold Me Tight summary

This is my book summary of Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. My summary and notes include the key lessons and most important insights from the book.

Introduction

  • What was this mysterious and powerful emotion that defeated my parents, complicated my own life, and seemed to be the central source of joy and suffering for so many of us? Was there a way through the maze to enduring love?
  • “Oh, they’re emotional bonds. They’re about the innate need for safe emotional connection. Just like [British psychiatrist] John Bowlby talks about in his attachment theory concerning mothers and kids. The same thing is going on with adults.”
  • Romantic love was all about attachment and emotional bonding. It was all about our wired-in need to have someone to depend on, a loved one who can offer reliable emotional connections and comfort.
  • I understood that in these dramas we are caught up in emotions that are part of a survival program set out by millions of years of evolution. 
  • The message of EFT [Emotionally Focused Therapy]: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. 
  • Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.
  • EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond between partners by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster adult loving relationships: being open, attuned, and responsive to each other.
  • Rigorous studies during the past fifteen years have shown that 70 to 75 percent of couples who go through EFT recover from distress and are happy in their relationships.
  • Hold Me Tight is designed to be used by all couples, young, old, married, engaged, cohabiting, happy, distressed, straight, gay; in short, all partners seeking a lifetime of love.
  • “Love is everything it’s cracked up to be…,” Erica Jong has written. “It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, your risk is even greater.”

Part One: A New Light on Love

Love—A Revolutionary New View

  • Love may be the most used and the most potent word in the English language.
  • For better or worse, in the twenty-first century, a love relationship has become the central emotional relationship in most people’s lives.
  • One reason is that we are increasingly living in social isolation.
  • Inevitably, we now ask our lovers for the emotional connection and sense of belonging that my grandmother could get from a whole village. 
  • Compounding this is the celebration of romantic love fostered by our popular culture.
  • Love is our bulwark, designed to provide emotional protection so we can cope with the ups and downs of existence.
  • His [John Bowlby] experience spurred him to formulate his own idea, namely that the quality of the connection to loved ones and early emotional deprivation is key to the development of personality and to an individual’s habitual way of connecting with others.
  • She [Mary Ainsworth] devised a very simple experiment to look at the four behaviors that Bowlby and she believed were basic to attachment: that we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved; that we reach out for this person when we are unsure, upset, or feeling down; that we miss this person when we are apart; and that we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world and explore.
  • The majority of children are upset when their mothers walk out; they rock themselves, cry, throw toys. 
  • But some prove more emotionally resilient. They calm themselves quickly and effectively, reconnect easily with their mothers on their return, and rapidly resume playing while checking to make sure that their moms are still around. They seem confident that their mothers will be there if needed. 
  • Less resilient youngsters, however, are anxious and aggressive or detached and distant on their mothers’ return. 
  • The kids who can calm themselves usually have warmer, more responsive mothers, while the moms of the angry kids are unpredictable in their behavior and the moms of detached kids are colder and dismissive.
  • Bowlby’s theory gained still greater currency a few years later when he produced the famed trilogy on human attachment, separation, and loss. 
  • His colleague Harry Harlow, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, also drew attention to the power of what he called “contact comfort” by reporting his own dramatic research with young monkeys separated from their mothers at birth.
  • He discovered that the isolated infants were so hungry for connection that when given the choice between a “mother” made out of wire who dispensed food and a soft-cloth mother without food, they would choose the squashy rag mother almost every time. 
  • Generally, Harlow’s experiments showed the toxicity of early isolation: physically healthy infants primates who were separated from their mothers during the first year of life grew into socially crippled adults.
  • The monkeys failed to develop the ability to solve problems or understand the social cues of others. They became depressed, self-destructive, and unable to mate.

Love and Adults

  • The overall conclusion: a sense of secure connection between romantic partners is key in positive loving relationships and a huge source of strength for the individuals in those relationships.

A Wealth of Evidence 

  • Having close ties with others is vital to every aspect of our health—mental, emotional, and physical.
  • We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression in our most affluent societies.
  • We need validation from our loved ones. Researchers say that marital distress raises the risk for depression tenfold!
  • Contact with a loving partner literally acts as a buffer against shock, stress, and pain.

Where Did Our Love Go? Losing Connection

  • Underneath all the distress, partners are asking each other: Can I count on you, depend on you? Are you there for me? Will you respond to me when I need, when I call? Do I matter to you? Am I valued and accepted by you? Do you need me, rely on me? 
    The anger, the criticism, the demands, are really cries to their lovers, calls to stir their hearts, to draw their mates back in emotionally and reestablish a sense of safe connection.

A Primal Panic

  • Attachment theory teaches us that our loved one is our shelter in life. 
  • When that person is emotionally unavailable or unresponsive, we face being out in the cold, alone and helpless. 
  • We are assailed by emotions—anger, sadness, hurt, and above all, fear.
  • We all experience some fear when we have disagreements or arguments with our partners. But for those of us with secure bonds, it is a momentary blip.
  • For those of us with weaker or fraying bonds, however, the fear can be overwhelming. We are swamped by what neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp of Washington State University calls “primal panic.”
  • Then we generally do one of two things: we either become demanding and clinging in an effort to draw comfort and reassurance from our partner, or we withdraw and detach in an attempt to soothe and protect ourselves.
  • No matter the extent of the words, what we’re really saying in these reactions is: “Notice me. Be with me. I need you.” Or, “I won’t let you hurt me. I will chill out, try to stay in control.”
  • If we love our partners, why do we not just hear each other’s calls for attention and connection and respond with caring? 
  • Because much of the time we are not tuned in to our partners.
  • We wind up demanding rather than requesting, which often leads to power struggles rather than embraces. 
  • Disguised and distorted messages keep us from being exposed in all our naked longing, but they also make it harder for our lovers to respond.

The Demon Dialogues

  • The longer partners feel disconnected, the more negative their interactions become. 
  • Researchers have identified several such damaging patterns…I call the three that I consider the most basic “Demon Dialogues.”
  • They are Find the Bad Guy, the Protest Polka, and Freeze and Flee…
  • By far the most dominant of the trio is the Protest Polka. 
  • In this dialogue, one partner becomes critical and aggressive and the other defensive and distant. 
  • Psychologist John Gottman of the University of Washing in Seattle finds that couples who get stuck in this pattern in the first few years of marriage have more than a 80 percent chance of divorcing within four or five years.
  • Most couples, however, aren’t aware of the pattern that has taken hold of their relationship.
  • They conclude that no one is trustworthy and love is a lie.
  • The demand-withdraw pattern is not just a bad habit, it reflects a deeper underlying reality: such couples are starving emotionally.
  • They are losing the source of their emotional sustenance. They feel deprived. And they are desperate to regain that nurturance.
  • Until we address the fundamental need for connection and the fear of losing it, the standard techniques, such as learning problem-solving or communication skills, examining childhood hurts, or taking time-outs, are misguided and ineffectual.

Key Moments of Attachment and Detachment

  • When a relationship is in free fall, men typically talk of feeling rejected, inadequate, and a failure; women of feeling abandoned and unconnected.
  • …the lack of emotional responsiveness rather than the level of conflict is the best predictor of how solid a marriage will be five years into it.
  • As we connect, we balance each other. We are in emotional equilibrium.

Emotional Responsiveness: The Key to a Lifetime of Love

  • We are never more emotional than when our primary love relationship is threatened.

The Beginning of EFT

  • When we slowed down the “spin” of these circular dances, softer emotions, like sadness, fear, embarrassment, and shame, always appeared.
  • These negative patterns always started when one partner tried to reach for the other and could not make safe emotional contact.
  • My clients had to learn to take risks, to show the softer sides of themselves, the sides they learned to hide in the Demon Dialogues.
  • I saw that when more withdrawn partners were able to confess their fears of loss and isolation, they could then talk about their longing for caring and connection. 
  • This revelation “moved” their blaming partners into responding more tenderly, and sharing their own needs and fears. It was as if both people suddenly stood face to face, naked by strong, and reached for each other.
  • Couples told me that these moments were life-changing.
  • This longing for emotional connection with those nearest to us is the emotional priority, overshadowing even the drive for food or sex. 
  • The drama of love is all about this hunger for safe emotional connection, a survival imperative we experience from the cradle to the grave. 
  • Loving connection is the only safety nature offer offers us.
  • When safe connection seems lost, partners go into fight-or-flight mode. 
  • They blame and get aggressive to get a response, any response, or they close down and try not to care. 
  • Both are terrified; they are just dealing with it differently
  • Most of the blaming in these dialogues is a desperate attachment cry, a protest against disconnection. 
  • It can only be quieted by a lover moving emotionally close to hold and rescue. Nothing else will do.
  • The key moments of change in EFT were moments of secure bonding.
  • Once partners know how to speak their need and bring each other close, every trial they face together simply makes their love stronger.

A.R.E.

This emotional responsiveness has three main components: 

  • Accessibility: Can I reach you?
  • Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?
  • Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?

The Seven Conversations of EFT

  • …no one can dance with a partner and not touch each other’s raw spots. 
  • We must know what these raw spots are and be able to speak about them in a way that pulls our partner closer to us.

Part Two: Seven Transforming Conversations

Conversation 1: Recognizing the Demon Dialogues

  • For all of us, the person we love most in the world, the one who can send us soaring joyfully into space, is also the person who can send us crashing back to earth.
  • All it takes is a slight turning away of the head or a flip, careless remark.
  • If our connection with our mate is safe and strong, we can deal with these moments of sensitivity. 
  • But when we don’t feel safe and connected, these moments are like a spark in a tinder forest. They set fire to the whole relationship.
  • We have only two ways of protecting ourselves and holding on to our connections with our partners when we do not feel safe and responded to. 
  • One route is to avoid engagement, that is, to try to numb our emotions, to shut down and deny our attachments needs.  
  • The other is to listen to our anxiety and fight for recognition and response.
  • Which strategy we adopt when we feel disconnected—becoming demanding and critical or withdrawing and shutting down—partly reflects our natural temperament, but mostly it is dictated by the lessons we learn in the key attachment relationships of our past and present. 
  • Moreover, because we learn with every new relationship, our strategy is not fixed. We can be critical in one relationship, and withdraw in another. 

Demon Dialogue 1—Find the Bad Guy

  • The purpose of Find the Bad Guy is self-protection, but the main move is mutual attack, accusation, or blame.
  • When we are alarmed, we use anything that promises to give us back this control.  
  • We can do this by defining our partner in a negative way, by shining a black light on him or her. We can attack in reactive anger or as a preemptive strike.
  • Find the Bad Guy could just as easily be called It’s Not Me, It’s You.
  • Once we get caught in a negative pattern, we expect it, watch for it, and react even faster when we think we see it coming.
  • By being wary and anticipating being hurt, we close off all the ways out of this dead-end dance. We cannot relax with our partners, and we certainly cannot connect with our confide in them. 
  • The range of responses becomes more restricted, slowly deadening the relationship.
  • Without feeling as our compass in the territory of close relationship, we are effectively lost.
  • We begin to see relationship as more and more unsatisfying or unsafe and our partner as uncaring or even defective.
  • The secret to stopping the dance is to recognize that no one is the villain here, and the partners are the victim.
  • To help them recognize their Demon Dialogue, I suggest they:
  • Stay in the present and focus on what is happening between them right now.
  • Look at the circle of criticism that spins both of them around. There is not true “start” to a circle.
  • Consider the circle, the dance, as their enemy and the consequences of not breaking the circle.

Demon Dialogue 2—The Protest Polka

  • This is the most widespread and ensnaring dance in relationships.
  • Studies by psychologist John Gottman of the University of Washing, Seattle, indicate that many of the couples who fall into this pattern early in marriage do not make it to their fifth anniversary.
  • Attachment relationships are the only ties on Earth where any response is better than none.
  • The Protest Polka is all about trying to get a response, a response that connects and reassures.
  • For years, the therapists have misguidedly viewed these patterns in terms of disputes and power struggles and have attempted to resolve it by teaching problem-solving skills.
  • Rather than conflict or control, the issue, from an attachment perspective, is emotional distance.  
  • An aggressive response seems to be wired into primates when a loved one on whom an individual depends acts as if the individual does not exist. An infant or monkey will attack a stonewalling mother, in a desperate attempt to obtain recognition.
  • In our society, women tend to be the caretakers of relationships. They usually pick up on distance sooner than their lovers, and they are often more in touch with their attachment needs.
  • So their role in the dance is most often the pursuing, more blaming spouse. 
  • Men, on the other hand, have been taught to suppress emotional responses and needs, and also to be problem solvers, which sets them up in the withdrawn mode.
  • Both men and women are inculcated with social beliefs that help ensnare them in the polka. 
  • Most destructive is the belief that a healthy, mature adult is not supposed to need emotional connection and is not entitled to this kind of caring.
  • The Protest Polka is danced not just by lovers, but by parents and children and brothers and sisters, indeed by anyone with close emotional ties to another.
  • What have I learned in twenty years of watching partners take back their relationships from this dance?
  • First, they have taught me that you have to see it.
  • Second, both people have to grasp how the moves of each partner pull the other into the dance.
  • Third, the polka is all about attachment distress.
  • We have to learn to recognize calls for connection and how desperation turns into “I push, I poke, anything to get him to respond,” or “I just freeze, so as to stop hearing more and more about how flawed I am and how I have lost her already.”
  • Fourth…We can all learn to see the polka as the enemy, not our partner.
  • Fifth, partners can begin to stand together and call the enemy by name, so they can slow the music down and learn how to step to the side and create enough safety to talk about attachment emotions and needs.

Play and Practice

  • Flexibility and being able to see your own moves and their impact on others is the key here.

Demon Dialogue 3—Freeze and Flee

  • Sometimes, when a couple comes to see me, I do not hear the hostility of Find the Bad Guy or the frantic beat of the Protest Polka. I hear a deadly silence.
  • What I see is that both partners are shut down into frozen defense and denial. Each is in self-protection mode, trying to act as if he or she does not feel and does not need.
  • No one is reaching for anyone here. No one will take any risks. So there is no dance at all. 
  • If the couple doesn’t get help and this continues, a point comes when there is then no way to renew trust or revive the dying relationship. 
  • Then this Freeze and Flee cycle will finish the partnership.
  • The real problem with the Freeze and Flee cycle is the hopelessness that colors it.
  • …depression is a natural part of losing connection with a lover.
  • Our past history with loved ones shapes our present relationships. 
  • In moments of disconnection when we cannot safely engage with our lover, we naturally turn to the way of coping that we adopted as a child, the way of coping that allowed us to hold on to our parent, at least in some way.
  • When we feel the “hot” emotions that warn us our connection is in trouble, we automatically try to shut them down and flee into reason and distracting activities.
  • They [ways of coping] are not indelible parts of our personality, and we do not need years of therapy and insight to reshape them. 

Play and Practice

  • …can you identify which of the three patterns—Find the Bad Buy, the Protest Polka, Freeze and Flee—most threatens your current love relationship?

Conversation 2: Finding the Raw Spots

  • We all are vulnerable in love; it goes with the territory. 
  • But almost all of us have at least one additional exquisite sensitivity—a raw spot in our emotional skin—that is tender to the touch, easily rubbed, and deeply painful.
  • These sensitivities frequently arise from wounding relationships with significant people in our past, especially parents, who give us our basic template for loving relationships; siblings and other members of our families; and, of course, past and present lovers.
  • But raw spots are not always a reminder of past wounds; they can crop up in a current relationship, even a generally happy one, if we feel especially emotionally deprived or deserted.
  • Raw spots can occur during big transitions or crises—such as having a child, becoming ill, or suffering the loss of a job—when the need for support from our partner is particularly intense, but it doesn’t come. They can also develop when. Partner seems chronically indifferent.
  • Indeed, we don’t even recognize that we have raw spots. 
  • We are only aware of our secondary reaction to the irritation—defensively numbing out and shutting down, or reactively lashing out in anger.
  • Withdrawal and rage are the hallmarks of Demon Dialogues, and they mask the emotions that are central in vulnerability: sadness, shame, and most of all, fear. 
  • Recent research by psychologist Joanne Davila at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, as well as others, confirms what I see in my sessions: that we can heal even the deep vulnerabilities with the help of a loving spouse.

Recognizing When A Raw Spot Is Rubbed

  • First, there is a sudden radical shift in the emotional tone of the conversation.
  • Second, the reaction to a perceived offense often seems way out of proportion. 
  • They are all about our deepest and most powerful emotions suddenly taking over.

Let’s break down what happens when a raw spot gets rubbed:

  1. An attachment cue grabs our attention and turns on our attachment system, our longings and fears.
  2. Our body responds. Each emotion has a specific physiological signature. When we are afraid, blood flow increases to the legs; when we are angry, blood flow increases to the hands.
  3. Our intellect, sitting behind our forehead in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, is a little slow. Now it catches up with our emotional brain, our amygdala, and goes looking for what all this means.
  4. We get set to move in a particular way, toward, away from, or against our lover.

Sharing With Your Partner

  • Our inclination is to ignore or deny our frailty.
  • We are perhaps even more reluctant to confess frailty to a lover. It will make us less attractive, we think. We recognize, too, that admitting vulnerability seems to put a powerful weapon in the hands of the person who can hurt us the most.
  • The truth is, we will never create a really strong, secure connection if we do not allow our lovers to know us fully or if our lovers are unwilling to know us.

Conversation 3: Revising a Rocky Moment

  • To reconnect, lovers have to be able to de-escalate the conflict and actively create a basic emotional safety.

De-Escalating Disconnection

  1. Stopping the game.
  2. Claiming your own moves.
  3. Claiming your own feelings.
  4. Owning how you shape your partner’s feelings. 
  5. Asking about your partner's deeper emotions.
  6. Sharing your own deeper, softer emotions. Although voicing your deepest emotions, sometimes sadness and shame, but most often attachment fears, may be the most difficult step for you, it is also the most rewarding. It lets your partner see what's really a stake with you when you argue.
  7. Standing together.

Conversation 4: Hold Me Tight—Engaging and Connecting

  • Stepping aside from our usual ways of protecting ourselves and acknowledging our deepest needs can be hard, even painful.
  • The reason for taking the risk is simple. If we don't learn to let our partner really see our attachment needs in an open, authentic way, the chances of getting these needs met are minuscule. We have to send the signal loud and clear for our partner to get the message.

What Am I Most Afraid Of?

  • When we examine and make sense, or as I put it, “order and distill” our experience, no matter how painful the process, there is a sense of relief and empowerment.
  • The ability to attend to our partner’s deeper disclosures is the beginning of mutual responsiveness and engagement.

What Do I Need Most From You?

  • It is one thing to acknowledge and accept your own emotional reality, but another to open it up to your partner. This is a great leap for those of us who have had a little experience of real safety with others. 
  • So why do it? Because we long for connection, and remaining defended and isolated is a sad and empty way to live.

The Neuroscience of Harmony

  • My research shows that every time a couple has a Hold Me Tight conversation, a moment of deep emotional connection occurs.
  • That sense of connection is expressed not just in our feelings, but also in our very cells.
  • And as partners respond empathetically to each other, I know from recent research that specific nerve cells, called mirror neurons, in the prefrontal cortex of their brains are buzzing.
  • Mirror neurons allow us to see emotion expressed by another and feel this emotion within our own body.
  • This research shows that in moments of responsive emotional engagement, our brains are flooded with oxytocin.
  • Dubbed the “cuddle hormone," oxytocin, which is produced only by mammals, is associated with states of contented bliss. It seems to create a cascade of pleasure, comfort, and calm.

Conversation 5: Forgiving Injuries

Small Events, Big Fallout

  • Over the decades of research and therapy, I've discovered that certain incidents do more than just touch our raw spots or "hurt our feelings.”
  • They injure us so deeply that they overturn our world. They are relationship traumas.
  • Indeed, there is no greater trauma than to be wounded by the very people we count on to support and protect us.
  • Lack of an emotionally supportive response by a loved one add a moment of threat can color the whole relationship…
  • It can be eclipse hundreds of smaller positive events and, in one swipe, demolish the security of a love relationship.
  • “Are you there for me when I am most in need? Do you care about my pain?”
  • There isn't much room for compromise or ambiguity when we feel this kind of urgent need for our loved one’s support. The test is pass or fail.
  • I've come to see that although wounded partners often do feel betrayed, they primarily feel abandoned by their mate.
  • Most simply do not know how to tune in to their loved ones’ [sic] attachment needs and offer the comfort of their emotional presence. 
  • The only way out of these attachment injuries is to confront them and heal them together. Preferably immediately.
  • The overriding lesson is you have to take your partner’s hurt seriously and hang in and ask questions until the meaning of an incident becomes clear, even if it to you the event seems trivial or the hurt exaggerated.
  • Sometimes we don't know what is so painful to us in a particular event until we can really explore it with our partner.
  • But the pain always makes sense if we relate it to our attachment needs and fears.

Six Steps to Forgiveness

  • We are all stumbling around, treading on each other’s toes as we are learning to love.

Conversation 6: Bonding Through Sex and Touch

  • Besides pulling us in, can sex also help to keep us together, to build a lasting relationship?
  • Emphatically, yes. In fact, good sex is a potent bonding experience.
  • Emotional connection creates great sex, and great sex creates deeper emotional connection.
  • Why is sex such a huge issue for dissatisfied partners? Because typically it's the first thing affected when a relationship falters. It's not the problem, though.
  • What's really happening is that a couple is losing connection; the partners don't feel emotionally safe with each other.
  • That in turn leads to slackening desire and less satisfying sex, which leads to less sex and more hurt feelings, which leads to still looser emotional connection, and around it goes.

Sealed-Off Sex

  • In Sealed-Off Sex, the goal is to reduce sexual tension, achieve orgasm, and feel good about our sexual prowess.

Solace Sex

  • Solace Sex occurs when we are seeking reassurance that we are valued and desired; the sex act is just a tagalong.
  • When physical intimacy becomes all about tamping down attachment beers, it can drive lovers apart.
  • As the late anthropologist Ashley Montagu noted in his book Touching, skin-to-skin contact is the language of sex and the language of attachment. Touch arouses, and it also soothes and comforts. 
  • Getting used to asking for tender touch deepens a couple’s bond, and knowing one another's bodies more intimately, what moves and pleases each other, becomes a precious part of a couple’s "only for you, only with you" connection.

Synchrony Sex

  • Synchrony Sex is when emotional openness and responsiveness, tender touch, and erotic expiration all come together. This is sex that fulfills, satisfies, and connects.
  • Secure, loving partners can relax, let go, and immerse themselves in the pleasure of lovemaking.
  • …securely attached partners can more openly express their needs and preferences and are more willing to experiment sexually with their lovers.
  • In a secure relationship, excitement comes not from trying to resurrect the novel moments of infatuated passion, but from the risk involved in staying open in the moment-to-moment, here-and-now experience of physical and emotional connection.

Resolving Sexual Problems

  • Many partners can tolerate infrequent intercourse, but they cannot tolerate a feeling that their partners do not desire them.

Conversation 7: Keeping Your Love Alive

  • …love is a a continual process of seeking and losing emotional connection, and reaching out to find it again. The bond of love is a living thing. If we don't attend to it, it naturally begins to weather.
  • Countless studies link emotional safety and secure connection to our ability to assert our needs, empathize with others, tolerate ambiguity, and think clearly and coherently.

Creating A Future Love Story

  • The more of a safe haven we have with our loved one, the more assured, assertive, adventurous we can be.
  • When our loved one is by our side, we tend to have more faith in ourselves and can dream in a new and expansive way.

Part Three

The Power of Hold Me Tight

  • Trauma is any terrifying event that instantly changes the world as we know it, leaving us helpless and emotionally overwhelmed.

Locking Up Feelings

  • We need to be able to thaw out our feelings and share them with our lovers. This means that our loved ones, for a moment, also have to see the dragon’s face.
  • This is the only way that they can't really understand our pain and need, hold us tight, and help us heal.

Turning to A Loved One

  • Emotional connection is crucial to healing. In fact, trauma experts overwhelmingly agree that the best predictor of the impact of any trauma is not the severity of the event, but whether we can seek and take comfort from others.

Trauma’s Echoes

  • Flashbacks, extreme sensitivity and hair-trigger reactivity, irritability and anger, hopelessness and severe withdrawal are hallmarks of trauma.

Saying Isolated

  • Going in alone after trauma—shutting down all emotions in an attempt to control the emotional turmoil—is disastrous for survivors and their relationships.
  • It drives the survivor’s partner into a spiral of panic and insecurity and weakens the couple’s bond.

The Biggest Obstacle

  • With all traumas, chronic fear and anger are problematic aftereffects.
  • But the biggest sticking point in relationship problems, in my opinion, is the feeling of shame that afflicts survivors.

Ultimate Connection—Love As the Final Frontier

  • Loving connection provides the dependable web of intimacy that allows us to cope with life and to live life well.
  • Even though we are programmed by millions of years of evolution to relentlessly seek out belonging and intimate connection, we persist in defining healthy people as those who do not need others.
  • The attachment perspective recognizes that our need for emotional connection with others is absolute.

A Wider Circle

  • When we don't have to worry about safety with our loved ones, we naturally have more energy to give to others.
  • We see others more positively and are more willing to emotionally engage with them. Feeling loved and secure makes us kinder and more tolerant people.

Love Between Lovers, Love In Families

  • There is a mountain of scientific evidence that securely attached children are happier, more socially competent, and more resilient in the face of stress.
  • The idea that one of the best things you can do for your child is to create a loving relationship with your partner is not sentimental, it's a scientific fact.
  • When we love each other well, we help each other parent well.
Thanks for reading.  If you're a curious person, you can get more insights like these in my email newsletter. Each week, I share practical ideas on personal freedom and living your authentic Self. What do you have to lose?
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