Relationship researcher, John Gottman is known for identifying:
1) the predictors of divorce with over 90% accuracy as well as
2) the behaviors or “antidotes” for couples to course correct.
Gottman’s concept of “bids for connection” is central to relational health.
Let’s apply “bids for connection” to Self & Other.
A bid for connection is an attempt to connect with others. If the “other” person is:
… the odds are high that the bid for connection will be acknowledged & responded to. This best-case scenario = “turning towards” a bid. However, others are NOT always paying attention & sometimes their own hijacked state leads them to “turn away” or worse “turn against” a bid for connection.
Failed bids for connection often lead to “protest” behaviors. Protest behavior examples are:
- Shutting Down
- Blowing up your phone with calls or texts
Protest behaviors are viewed negatively, received poorly, & create relational ruptures. If relational ruptures are not addressed & REPAIRED, then attachment or relational WOUNDS form.
Ruptures Lead to Disconnect
With repeated relational ruptures a person will learn to DISCONNECT:
- from the “other” for self-protection
- from themselves to avoid overwhelming feelings, thoughts, sensations, & movement impulses.
Sadly, if unmet bids, protest behaviors, & failure to repair ruptures continues then a pattern of disconnection becomes ingrained.
The disconnection becomes an unconscious habit of defense & protection to:
- minimize the risk that the triggered state will be activated/touched
- to prevent further triggering.
Disconnection from Self leads to disconnection with others. Quality relationships & life satisfaction are difficult to achieve when you are cut off from your juice. Avoiding parts of yourself leads to reduced joy & life force.
Sadly, the defensive “coping” strategy of disconnection adds new problems to the original state/feeling that disconnection aims to avoid. The DISCONNECT defense can be costly.
Course correction is possible with enough support & safety.
This is the crux of my work. I believe Internal Family Systems (IFS) & Neuroaffective Relational Model (NARM) are helpful models for inner connection/attachment work: a process of inner re-parenting.
How to Connect & Give Inner Re-Parenting/Attachment
The first goal is to re-connect internally. Notice without judgement, and with curiosity & compassion, to help you connect to the parts of you that:
- act out & in (aka “turn against” you or them)
- plan, produce, perform, & please to protect
- hurt & feel stuck & are waiting for help & redemption.
The second goal is to “get” the good & bad news… that no one is coming to save you (or little you) but YOU! As an adult, YOU are now responsible, as in able-to-respond, to that younger, stuck, hurting part of you. You have & know the exact medicine or TLC to salve the wound.
This is a bitter pill for some. They would prefer someone, anyone, but preferably a parent or partner, to soothe the inner ache. While we are meant to heal in relationships, we are healthiest when we know how to connect, soothe, & regulate ourselves “home”. It’s preferable to learn this at the developmental age & stage you were supposed to; but it’s better late than never. Also, previous generations didn’t have the information available we have today; it’s our turn to nudge the needle on relational health & wellbeing. (See Blog: https://resetwithrenee.com/150-2/.)
A healthy partner will want to understand the roadmap of your heart & history, but they are NOT supposed to be the primary caretaker of your inner world. Their love & care for you is secondary to your own healing process.
Your inner attachment work will provide clarity & connection in your relationships with others, assuming they are healthy and/or have done their own inner healing, if needed. If they haven’t yet or won’t, you will have a clearer understanding of why & what YOU need to move forward for your Self.
Mind Your Ecosystem
Not everyone has the awareness, capacity, or support to connect inwards & heal. Some partnerships, families, communities, & organizations are not healthy & in fact may be dysfunctional, driven by power & control dynamics to cover insecurity & fear, or toxic. Time spent in “trauma ecosystems” generally should be minimized if possible while you are doing your inner child/attachment/re-parenting work.
Know that no parent or person can attune & respond, perfectly all the time & in fact doing so would not allow for the experience of repairing ruptures. However, parents can unconsciously transmit wounds by being intrusive, unavailable, or as a reaction to a hurt they are experiencing. Parental responses to bids, protests, & distress train or teach their children how to tune in or tune out to their inner & outer world. Mother & father wounds can negatively impact mental & relational health for decades & across generations.
To Cope or Heal?
At some point, disconnection will cause more pain than it prevents. That is the time to acknowledge & appreciate the coping adaptations that evolved to “protect & serve” & begin a discovery journey into true inner healing.
- Notice, allow, & honor.
- Release what no longer works.
- Recover your whole Self for health & wellbeing.
Disconnection is rampant in our families, cultures, & communities. Healing can be simple yet paradoxical. It’s hard to stop doing the thing you have always done (disconnect from self & others) & remember to connect & come “home” or “turn towards” you.
Attunement, connection, attachment, & relational repair are essential building blocks to a solid sense of Self & satisfying relationships.
You know your story best. However, someone who “gets” this recovery journey can provide support, space, & assistance in moving the process along. If you get stuck, feel overwhelmed or lost, please reach out to #RESET!
For More Information:
This content can also be explored @Resetwithrenee – see below for links!
- Season 1, Episode 9 of the Reset With Renee Podcast
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