September 8, 2022
Webinar: Developmental Trauma and Its Impact on your Relationships
Written by Rachel Eddins
Learn how to recognize developmental trauma. Discover how it may currently impact your connection with yourself and others and process ways to work in the present with protective strategies that developed in childhood and show up in your relationships.
This webinar is facilitated by Becky Reiter, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and board-approved LPC Supervisor (LPC-S) in the State of Texas.
Watch a replay of the presentation here.
Learn more about our Trauma therapy.
Here is a transcript of the webinar:
Hello! I’m Becky Reiter. I am a trauma specialist which means I’ve just been through a whole bunch of training in EMDR and the NeuroAffective Relational Model. I’m also a somatic experiencing practitioner, so trauma is my jam.
I really enjoy working with trauma and I’m excited to share what I know about developmental trauma, and relational trauma with you tonight because it does have an impact in so many ways, especially in your relationships.
Hopefully, this will give you some information about how it may look for you, how it may show up for you as well as ways to cope, and things to do about it.
Just because you have developmental relational trauma it doesn’t mean you’re going to be feeling like this forever, and struggling with relationships forever.
But what happened in childhood does have an impact on you as an adult. So let’s get started.
Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick
Dr. Edward Tronick did the Still Face experiment to show again just how we relate as humans and how important that is.
He took a baby and his mother and had the mother fully engaged with the baby. The mother is smiling and talking, the baby is giggling and laughing and then he did another video where the mother had no expression, just a still face.
Now, you can see the baby trying to engage and get mom to interact and mom’s just staring with a still face at the baby.
As this kind of goes on a little bit, the baby gets upset.
He thinks that his mom’s not connecting with him and it’s painful and he doesn’t know why. So the baby gets upset and starts crying and obviously, then the mother comforts the child.
The Still Face experiment really shows how our relationships with our primary caregivers can impact us further in life.
It impacts children and how that baby was doing everything he could to connect with his mother. They laugh and smile.
If that didn’t work, then they start crying and being upset just so they can get this connection they need with their mother.
I say connection because oftentimes when someone has a view of what someone might be doing as “bad behavior”, they make an assumption that they just want attention.
I would wonder do they really want attention or if is it really a connection that they’re looking for.
NeuroAffective Relational Method
There are so many different things out there about developmental trauma, trauma in general, and relational trauma. More people have heard about attachment but not necessarily have connected it to developmental relational trauma. So I’m a NARM therapist in training and that’s the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM).
It is a model that is for developmental trauma and complex PTSD. The premise of it is interesting because the original book that Lawrence Heller, who is one of the creators, put out is called Healing Developmental Trauma.
He was originally going to call it Connection: Our Deepest Desire and Greatest Fear because that is what we are trying to do because we are wired for connection as humans.
We want to stay connected to other people at the expense of ourselves so many times.
And then, unfortunately, because we desire that connection so much, we also fear it because when that connection is not reciprocated it’s so incredibly painful.
I want to give you an idea of where this knowledge that I’m sharing with you tonight – where it’s coming from – in case you wanted to do more research or look it up and learn a little bit about it.
This model is about the connection with others and the connection with self. The connection goes multiple ways.
With this model, they talk about connection and protective strategies.
They are really just a protective strategy so that we can stay either connected with the person we love or stay connected to ourselves.
I really want to kind of differentiate because when so many people hear trauma they state that they haven’t been to war, had horrible accidents, or haven’t had horrible things happen to them.
Shock and Developmental Trauma
There are really three types of trauma, but shock trauma and developmental trauma are the two main types I’m going to talk about.
Until I did training and somatic experiencing, and the NeuroAffective Relational Model, I hadn’t really heard the term shock trauma.
Shock trauma is when we feel we have a mortal threat. There is going to be some of what some people call the Big T trauma and it can be assault, a major car accident, being in the military, or other big things that impact your physical body.
When you have that mortal threat, you are more likely to have fear. So then, if you’re driving in a car, you feel so much anxiety because you just had this horrible car accident. So you keep looking around and there’s this fear of your life because your life had been threatened.
What’s different with developmental trauma is you don’t fear for your physical body. The challenge is sometimes when we differentiate it within developmental trauma, there can be physical abuse. So you can have both.
When you have both shock trauma and developmental trauma, that’s complex PTSD.
Thinking about developmental trauma, if we take the physical part out of it, there’s no mortal threat. People joke when they have a baby and they’re trying to go feed the baby, and the baby starts shrieking and acting like it’s never been fed.
Well, it doesn’t know yet that it’s going to be fed. It’s very different. The baby is fearing for its life. So it is very much a mortal threat.
Again, not saying that not feeding your child right at the moment they need to be fed is a shock trauma. But that’s just kind of how I differentiate those pieces a little bit.
So with developmental trauma, that’s a threat to the sense of who you are.
When I talk about the connection with self, I’m talking about this piece of “I am connected to myself. I can recognize my own needs. I feel comfortable setting boundaries because that’s what I need for myself.”
And so what happens in this developmental trauma, this threat to this sense of self, is when shame comes up.
So, for instance, telling your child that they always do things last minute.
Then the child creates meaning about what that says about them, and that they must be a horrible person because they can never be on time again. That’s a bit extreme, but our emotions are extreme.
Then they feel that shame, and they think there’s something wrong with them because they can’t be on time. It creates this response of that anxiety.
So there’s a difference between shock trauma, which we call that fear, and then developmental trauma where the response might be anxiety.
Again, that’s not the only response I recognize. I’m trying to simplify it as much as I can.
Most people are familiar with attachment, and they might think they have attachment issues.
But this model is a little bit different when it comes to attachment because what I have found with a lot of my clients is when I talk about attachment (if you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, you can either be what they call securely attached, anxious attachment, avoiding attachment, ambivalent attachment), there’s this belief that we need to be moving towards secure attachment.
I have found that that brings up a lot of shame for someone when they recognize that they are anxiously attached and tell themselves that that’s not how they should be.
They need to have a secure attachment. And they feel a lot of shame around their attachment style.
What I like about NARM is it has a different view on attachment and secure attachment.
This is, again, a little bit more detail, but I wanted to kind of show how these things relate. So with NARM, it has different survival styles where you’ve got different attachment styles. Lawrence Heller kind of transitioned that into what he called survival style.
There are five different survival styles:
Where you have the secure attachment is when you have your core needs met. You have an attuned environment and the capacity for those five different survival styles.
The way that shifts in terms of developmental trauma is you’ve got your core needs, and primary emotions, and then something happens within the attachment relationship. We call it an environmental failure, which then leads to this disconnection typically to themselves.
For example, if your mom is upset with you that you’re running late all the time, you’re going to start ignoring the fact that you need to run to the restroom right before you leave for school.
You’re going to focus on what she needs to make her happy because you don’t want to lose this connection that you have with her.
It doesn’t feel safe to maybe connect with yourself and connect with the needs that you have. Some might become a people pleaser.
I hear a lot of clients say that they’re definitely people pleasers. What they’re doing shows up as a protective strategy of “I’m going to please this person in my life that I care about (a partner, a parent, a caregiver), at the expense of what I need for myself.”
So this shows how that happens.
I am not someone who says parents are the whole reason why someone has developmental trauma. I’m not saying this to blame parents or to have anyone kind of go: “I have a child. What am I doing wrong?”
It’s more of just an awareness of how this happens.
If we know how it shows up, then that gives us more choice in how we want to have our needs met once we have this awareness and we acknowledge what it is that we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs)
- Psychological Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Neglect
- Physical Neglect
- Loss of a Parent (for any reason)
- Mother Treated Violently
- Substance Abuse
- Mental Illness
- Criminal Behavior in the Household
*The questions are described on the ACE website
This model was developed from the ACEs study, the Adverse Childhood Events.
If someone’s ever wondering how would they have developmental trauma, we’ve found that a lot of it comes from these main areas of trauma. And these are the big ones that we think about.
Not everyone who has developmental trauma has all of these adverse childhood events. They might not have any of these.
These are the things that we think about when we think about big trauma. They could definitely have some of these things and that can create some mental illness in the future and create some other concerns.
Most of the time, what we’ve kind of experienced in terms of the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is what we call environmental failure, which can happen all the time.
Environmental failure doesn’t mean it’s one of these ten things. Environmental failure can be a misattunement. So, for instance, I have clients coming in saying: “I’ve always been told I’m too sensitive.”
Maybe that child felt a lot of emotions and the parent was really uncomfortable with emotions. And so maybe every time the child got upset, they were told boys don’t cry. I think that happens.
I think, unfortunately, men get that. They just don’t understand how to manage what the child might be needing at that moment.
I’m not putting blame on anyone, but it happens, especially in our busy lives. Trauma gets passed down really through the generation.
If your parent never connected with you emotionally, didn’t know how, weren’t able to, then how can you expect yourself to know that as well?
We’re talking about chronic misattunement. The focus has always been on that attachment disruption and how can you get a secure attachment when you’re trying to recover from developmental trauma.
We’re focused on systemic dysregulation and identity distortions (shame, guilt, self-hatred). The things that have interrupted the capacity to connect with others and self and their own sense of aliveness.
Instead of looking at this as something that someone does to potentially harm someone else or, just avoid it because he doesn’t want to talk about the relationship. If you look at it from more of a strength-based perspective, this person has developed a protective strategy to maintain attachment. This makes a lot more sense.
So, here’s how it happens. You’re an adult and you’re struggling in your relationships. Now, what do you do about it?
Is it possible to experience the traumas listed by a sibling in the household and family instead of a parent?
Yes, that can absolutely happen. It’s all connected. So you may have this wonderful parent and an abusive sibling or family member in the household, and some needs are not being met.
The parent may have had no idea that there was anything that was happening. And really they can only do so much sometimes. Sometimes, yes, the trauma can develop because of a sibling because they’re so close and the parents aren’t able to protect you when they don’t know they need to protect you. Or maybe they’re unable or incapable of doing so.
There’s some environmental failure essentially happening where the parents don’t know there is a need to protect or to even talk about.
When I say: “Now what?”, I don’t want anybody to think it’s all the parent’s fault. Or I don’t want anyone being like: “I need to pay more attention to what’s happening.”
It’s not the experience or the event that causes the trauma. It’s what happens afterward that causes the trauma.
The Development of Protective Strategies
If there is no relational repair that happens, then that’s where some of these protective strategies come into play. So, if your sibling is constantly bullying you and you’re scared to tell your parent because the sibling has threatened you and this perpetuates, you develop this protective space.
Maybe you get really angry and yell or maybe you’re very sensitive and you’re more likely to have an emotional response where if someone in your life now makes you feel how the sibling made you feel, you just burst into tears.
These are strategies to protect yourself and to feel those emotions in a way that keeps you safe.
If you have an abusive sibling, maybe the only way to get them to stop was to start crying.
When you notice a strategy that works, then you develop this protective strategy so that anytime you get into conflict with someone, you start crying because that’s how your body has learned to protect itself (to not risk this disconnection from your primary caregiver).
How this shows up in relationships? There are so many different ways. That was just a small example.
So every time you and your partner get into an argument, you just start crying. Many people get so frustrated because they don’t know why they are crying.
They are not sad. But that is how they were able to manage their emotions at that time because there’s been no communication and no repair happened.
It would be different if in the instance of the abusive sibling, the mom found out and you work on it as a family and focus on how to create some repair between the siblings rather than saying it isn’t your problem, or, saying that’s just what siblings do. Again, sometimes parents don’t know what they don’t know.
That’s not to say that repair can’t happen. So even if you have your own child and you’re having a bad day, you get really frustrated and you yell at them.
It’s not the yelling that’s going to be the thing that really impacts the child. It’s the lack of repair after the fact because they’re going to be making all of their own assumptions about why this parent yelled at them.
They don’t know that mom was just having a bad day and got irritated and just lost it. They don’t know.
Children don’t know that they’re good children in a bad environment.
They don’t recognize that. It’s misattuned. So then they start creating these meanings about themselves. And so they might be thinking they can’t reach out to their mom or talk to her about this particular issue because she might yell at them.
But what if, afterward, that person were to go up to their child and say: “Look, I’m so sorry I yelled at you yesterday. It was not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t about you. Mommy was just having a really bad day, and I’m sorry I took it out on you. I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m going to try not to do that in the future.“
Be able to talk that out with the child or allow the child to have that repair and let them know it wasn’t about them.
And they don’t hold on to that. So then that protective strategy of “I can’t talk to mom” doesn’t perpetuate and doesn’t come into the present.
There are so many different ways it can show up.
For example, people pleasing. So someone has learned over time to do whatever other people want. They smile at them, they’re happy, and they want to spend time with them. That’s where a lot of people kind of get into the place of: “I can never say no” because maybe the time that they did say no, it was met with disappointment and it feels worse to disappoint others than it does to disappoint themselves.
That’s how we do. The disappointment they might face, and the potential loss of connection, make them do the people pleasing instead of saying no.
Then the resentment comes and they start feeling like they’re always asking you to help them with this and they never help you. They’re so focused on pleasing other people that they don’t necessarily think about what they need.
That’s kind of how that disconnection of self happens in terms of people pleasing to focus on the connection with the attachment partner like a husband or a wife at the expense of themselves.
Then that creates some resentment and they may act out. A way they might act out is they get to a point where they are saying yes all the time and they don’t want to do this. The partner had no idea that they were asking for things from that person all the time or that that person didn’t want to do it or was resentful of being asked to do the dishes.
Even small things can show up in a big way in a relationship.
I hear that a lot: “I just asked them to do the dishes and they yelled at me or got upset” or they come in saying: “I’m constantly doing everything for my partner”. Or “I’m really struggling with boundaries.”
Again, when this shows up in your relationships, it can be really challenging because all you can focus on sometimes is: “I can’t believe they yelled at me. That really hurts. That’s really painful.”
You get into arguments. If you think about it with some curiosity, we all know this isn’t about the dishwasher. We know it’s not that the dishes weren’t done. That may be one very small piece of it.
Approach it with curiosity rather than making a judgment or assumption.
I hear a lot from my clients about their partners being lazy. They don’t want to do anything and they are stuck doing all the housework.
- Can we have some curiosity about why it may be that you’re doing all the housework and they’re not doing any of it?
- Is it because they’re lazy?
We don’t know. It could be so many different things, but I think we’re so quick to make meaning based on experiences in the past where we’ve been hurt and we carry these beliefs forward in our lives.
It becomes more like: “I’m constantly the people pleaser, it’s always about the other person. It’s never about me. I learned that to keep connected with my primary caregiver (or whoever I wanted to keep connected with at that time) meant that I had to not take care of myself. I’m not able to sit and not do the dishwasher. It has to be done. I really want to just sit down, and I don’t feel safe asking my partner to do this for me, or I have asked them multiple times, and it ends up becoming an argument.“
Approach some of these conflicts with a lot of curiosity and think if these judgments are really true.
We don’t know if they are. Again, my thought is there’s no such thing as laziness. You’re listening to your body and allowing your body to have the rest that it needs.
But where we really get into a lot of trouble is the loss of curiosity about the beliefs we have about ourselves and the beliefs that we have about others in our lives.
If we can take some space, which I know is difficult when your emotions are involved and you get upset and you’re hurt, these things don’t need to happen at the moment. Again, I want to reiterate repair, repair, repair!
So you get in a big fight with your partner, but you come back when you’re less emotionally activated and try to check in on what happened in the situation. You know, check in with our partner, check in with ourselves.
What was really coming up for me? Do I really believe that my partner is lazy or that I’m lazy? Well, no. The house gets taken care of. We both had really long work days. Sometimes we just want to relax and not worry about the dishes.
Really paying attention to how something is showing up and why.
I don’t like to say why, because sometimes we don’t know why, but having some curiosity about what’s coming up around this issue instead of, again, going to make an assumption about somebody’s character or about yourself.
Something I hear a lot about is: “If they really loved me, they would try harder in the relationship”. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with you and whatever is going on with the other person.
When we make meaning that doesn’t exist, even with things people say unless they say directly to you (unless they really say they don’t love you, so chances are they don’t). People think: “I wouldn’t have to ask them to do the dishes. If they really loved me, I wouldn’t have to beg to go out to dinner.”
That’s assuming your partner is a mind reader as well. And so we put a lot of meaning on these things that if you were to ask your partner and say:
“Do you not take me out to dinner because you don’t love me?”
They would probably be: “What are you talking about?”
So the things that we really connect for ourselves and have some curiosity about are so incredibly important in a relationship.
I think this also happens in relationships, especially if you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a really long time. It becomes like “I know what they would say. I know how they might respond.” Okay, but how have you responded in the past? Or how have you presented what you’re asking to them?
You’re making these assumptions, whereas if you maybe went in a different way or phrase it a different way, or just asked a question, it could be incredibly different.
A good example could be, you and your partner are out to dinner, and a mutual friend of yours stops by and you all start chatting. And you notice that this friend is touching your partner’s arm a lot.
You wonder what that’s about. A lot of the time it’s thinking your partner must really like them, or maybe they find them more attractive than they find me.
Then they get upset and start accusing them of all these things that they didn’t really do. Like, the other person put their hand on their partner’s arm. The partner wasn’t grabbing their hand or anything like that.
They get upset and get hurt and start to feel jealous and get worried that they don’t love you. This feels so much worse in your mind than if you said: “Hey, I noticed so and so was touching you a lot. How did you feel about that?”
They may be like: “They seem like a touchy kind of person. It’s usually like that. Why are you worried about that?” It can be incredibly vulnerable at times to even have some curiosity like that.
But again, if you’re coming at your partner in a non-accusatory way, that’s engaging their curiosity rather than: I can’t believe they kept touching you like that all the time”.
I’m generalizing a lot right now, they’re more likely to become defensive and say: “What’s going on with you? That was nothing. I can’t believe you thought that was anything like, what are you thinking?”
And then it becomes an argument. It starts more of a conversation that you might have with an opportunity for vulnerability and connection on both sides. Because again, if our goal is to connect with our partner, or, I’m using that as an example, making an assumption and creating meaning that doesn’t exist makes everyone unhappy.
I recognize that you’re not emotionally activated to be able to respond that way. I know that’s a very simplistic, potentially unrealistic way of responding, but again, that doesn’t have to happen at the moment. You can still go back.
You should still go back and say: “I just felt really uncomfortable with how they were touching you. It brought up some things for me. I recognize that you didn’t ask them to touch you. And so I’m curious what your experience was like.”
If your partner is unfamiliar with touching and with underlying intent, how can we better express our discomfort for that?
Your partner could be completely oblivious and doesn’t think that they were interested. But it makes you uncomfortable to have someone touching them. I think that’s something to really think about for yourself. They didn’t really care or even notice, and you felt a lot of discomfort with that.
Being curious rather than making an assumption or making meaning that your partner wants to be with this other person or even making the assumption that they were okay with the touching in the first place because really, you should never touch anybody without consent.
But also take time to think about what is coming up for you as you’re noticing this person touching your partner and I feel discomfort.
When we make meaning and we have feelings, they’re not always logical.
So again, you may have made the meaning out – “he’s not pushing them away, so maybe he likes the touch or maybe he’s interested in this person” and you feel threatened because of the threat of attachment loss all the way from childhood.
We’re trying to maintain that connection with the people that we love and care about. That’s a good opportunity for you to think there is a reason for that. Maybe it’s the fear of losing your partner, maybe because they didn’t push this other person away, or maybe they’re more interested in them.
Really paying attention to how that comes up for you and really being curious if you’re making the assumption that they’re interested in this person or they enjoyed the touch when you have really no idea if they did or not.
Approach it with curiosity, not in an accusatory way.
If you feel comfortable enough being vulnerable with your partner in this way of saying it was really uncomfortable for you when so and so kept touching you at dinner the other night and that you don’t know what you should have done at that moment.
Again, not accusing them of anything. Just wanting to communicate and share your discomfort.
And trying to think about what that was bringing up for you. Is this something you could talk about together and really understand how you were feeling in this moment and how if this were to happen again in the future, to handle the situation?
A relationship is between two people. I’m not quite sure how that may work out. If your partner responds with some defensiveness, it’s important to be thoughtful of:
“If they’re being defensive right now, does that mean they have something to defend because they were doing something wrong or do they feel attacked?”
So again, really being curious, rather than going: “They’re defending themselves, they have something to defend themselves for.” They could feel attacked at the moment. And again, we’re humans, we’re animals.
When we feel attacked, we’re going to defend ourselves and go into a fight.
That fight can show up as a protest of: “How dare you to accuse me of something I didn’t do?” Again, if that’s kind of how that’s taken in.
If you and your partner have curiosity and really think about like how is this feeling for you.
- Don’t make assumptions about the experience.
- Don’t assume that they enjoyed it and also pay attention to what is this experience.
- And in this instance, what meaning are you making about yourself?
If we could kind of slow it down a little bit and create some space with curiosity rather than going straight to thinking that they just don’t love you and you’re going to make this assumption that they’re going to leave you.
If you can kind of slow it down a little bit and approach it:
- “Where is that coming from?
- Is that coming from experience?
- Is that coming from something inside of me, something my partner has done?”
Can you really be curious about this together that not only will help your relationships but will help with how you relate to yourself so much?
I recommend curiosity and not making assumptions even in things that you believe about yourself.
Like the previous example of: “I don’t want to do the dishes so that means I’m lazy.” That’s kind of a harsh judgment and that makes you feel worse.
- Why do you want to do that to yourself?
- Is this something you really believe?
- And if you do, why do you believe that?
That’s a difficult thing to do because some of these beliefs that we have, we’ve had since we were very young and they become facts in our minds. They become facts when they’re really not.
Most of the time they’re really not. They’re just things that we have created and it’s a protective strategy that if you call yourself lazy, well, then nobody else can call you lazy.
I hear so many clients say: “I’m harder on myself than anybody else.” That’s a strategy in which nobody else can use that against you or say those things to you. You’re already aware of it and already know it.
If we really look at some of our actions and things that we do with more curiosity, it will shift how we feel about ourselves, how we feel in relationships, and how we operate in our daily lives.
Those are my top three. I’m going to say again:
- Don’t make assumptions.
- What meaning might you be making about either yourself or this other person in the situation?
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend NARM. It is a therapeutic model that you go to training for, but they do have a couple of books out. They came out with a most recent book. It is very much focused on clinicians. So sometimes we want to ask something or we want to be curious.
If we did not get a lot of affirmation or were not heard and soothed as a child, does this lead to wanting to be heard as an adult?
There’s some discomfort with people who are silent or withdraw or don’t want to talk about how they might be feeling. It could be really uncomfortable for you because you didn’t get affirmation. And again, this is something I joke about to a lot of clients. We are not taught about emotional health, or how to respond to someone emotionally. So you may not have gotten affirmation or soothing because your parents may not have known how because they never got it.
For you, it could feel like if someone is silent or withdraws or doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, and that can feel like a huge disconnection.
If your parents never engaged with you and asked you what was going on and why do you seem upset, or you cried and nobody ever soothed you, it could be that you’ve equated the silence with “they don’t like what I’m (doing/saying or how I’m responding).”
Again, this is making a bit of an assumption on my part, but you’ve equated that silence with “they don’t like what I’m doing or what I’m saying or how I’m responding”. They’re creating this disconnection.
And so if someone is silent or withdraws, it can create a lot of anxiety and thinking they’re going to leave you, or they don’t love you anymore, or they’re unhappy with you. There could be a number of reasons why that can be so upsetting.
I think you’re making a good assumption about what you didn’t get in childhood that now creates this struggle for others.
I think that’s something to notice for yourself. Feeling really scared because they’re really withdrawing. Then your behavior may be to kind of chase them to talk when the other person might need space because you’re trying to soothe your anxiety of “I might lose them again”.
I think it’s important to really notice if you are struggling with their silence or their withdrawal.
What behaviors are coming up for you? What feelings are coming up for you and how might you be responding in the situation maybe think about noticing the anxiety. You’re feeling really anxious and you’re making these assumptions that they’re upset with you and you’re going to lose this relationship.
If we kind of step back a little bit and give them some space, maybe 15-20 minutes, and then try to re-engage. Or also, again, kind of say:
“I understand if you need space. I’m feeling a little anxious because we’re not talking about this, but is that something that maybe after a little bit of time we could go back to this?”
There could be any number of reasons for that. But I think it’s important to really notice and pay attention to what’s coming up for you when that happens. And then think about how can you connect with yourself in this situation. Because again, they may not want to repair it at that moment or at all. And you can’t really force anybody to do that.
Be curious about what’s coming up for you around this and then what can you do for yourself in this situation to maybe manage some of that anxiety that could be coming up.
Maybe it is reaching out and connecting with somebody else. Maybe it’s writing about what happened and trying to look at it from a place where you have less emotional activation, maybe later on, because that does make a difference.
How to explain attachment to a partner who isn’t used to consistent trauma and how to help them understand that you’re not controlling, jealous, or insecure about what they have in their world in contrast to what you don’t have in your world?
Very independent. Don’t rely on your partner. If somebody said that to me in session, I would ask them: “What would it say about you if you were?”
Maybe your partner is saying these things to you and you’re thinking you’re not any of those things because you have this meaning that you’ve created about someone who is those things versus, again, kind of stopping and thinking and going: “Okay, what am I doing that looks like I’m trying to be controlling or jealous or insecure? What might I be doing or creating in the situation with my partner that they’re viewing me in that way?”
There could be so many meanings if someone’s controlling, jealous, or insecure. How can they be a good partner when that’s not the case?
If you are feeling some anxiety in your relationship and they’re accusing you of those things, definitely sit back and think if you’re hurt because of what it means if you are these things.
Or can you ask more questions? So, be curious with your partner. Ask them to give you examples. If you struggle with fear of abandonment, tell them of a particular behavior that they do that brings this up in you.
No one is responsible for your emotions. But again, there could be ways to kind of mitigate maybe some triggering things that they’re doing that bring this up in you. Like: “I texted you and you didn’t text me back for like 5 hours. Can we talk about this and maybe do it a little bit differently?” versus being angry and saying “I can’t believe you didn’t text me back for 5 hours”.
Have some vulnerability about how you are feeling. Because again, if your partner’s telling you you’re these things and you’re saying you’re not, they don’t really know what’s going on for you. Trying to be curious together about what’s happening is really important.
I hope that was helpful. Again, with the bit of information that I had, I was trying to kind of cover all my bases. I think that’s really something important to notice.
If you’re feeling so activated by what they might be saying about you, then that feels like an attack on your sense of who you are.
Be curious about these things and what meaning are you making for yourself if these things are true. And again, being really curious about how could they show up.
There’s the meaning that you’re making from these particular phrases that say something about you that you’re responding to because it’s this attack on you and makes you feel bad versus being curious about this. And can you kind of go into that curiosity with yourself and with your partner?
Thank you everyone for coming. Again, I hope it was helpful. Please remember to fill out the feedback form.
I really love working with trauma developmental trauma, and relational stuff. Let me know how we can support you here at Eddins Counseling Group. We have a highly trained team of trauma therapists in Houston, Montrose, and Sugar Land.
I love this work, and I really encourage you to do further research. Thanks so much, and I hope everyone has a great evening. Bye.
Grounding & Self Soothing
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