Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson is a book I often recommend to others. These are my personal notes from the book. These are not all direct quotes, but also paraphrases and added commentary from me. A * designates a note-worthy point. As always, reading the book for yourself is suggested.
- Findings about secure attachment: Importance of Security
When you feel secure to your lover you reach out and connect easily; when you feel insecure, you become anxious angry and controlling or avoid contact all together and stay distant.
When we feel secure we are comfortable with closeness and confident about depending on loved ones and we are better at seeking support and giving it.
When we feel safely linked to our partners we more easily roll with the hurts they inevitably inflict and we are less likely to be aggressively hostile when we get mad at them.
Secure connection to a loved one is empowering.
When we feel safely connected to others we understand ourselves better and like ourselves more.
Securely bonded adults are more curious and more open to new information.
They are more comfortable with ambiguity.
Curiosity comes out of a sense of safety, rigidity out of being vigilant to threats.
The more we can reach out to our partners the more separate and independent we can be.
Those who feel that their needs are accepted by their partners are more confident about solving problems on their own and more likely to achieve their own goals.
Genetic attachment view of love is very different from what we’re taught in our culture.
- Health and well-being : Disconnection makes us sick/hurt
Distress in a relationship adversely affects our immune and hormonal systems and even our ability to heal.
The quality of our love relationships is also a big factor in how mentally and emotionally healthy we are.
The people we love are the hidden regulators of our bodily processes and our emotional lives.
Rejection and exclusion trigger the same circuits in the same part of the brain as physical pain. (Anterior Cingulate)
What do you think the basic problem in your relationship is and what solution might there be?
Your explanations are just the tip of the iceberg.
They are disconnected emotionally and they don’t feel emotionally safe with one another.
Fights are really protests over emotional disconnection.
Disagreement leads to fear which leads to one of two primal panics and then to spirals of insecurity.
We either become demanding and clinging or we withdraw and detach. (pursue or withdraw)
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 into our partners.
We are distracted or caught up in our own agendas. We do not give clear messages, we speak tentatively because we feel ambivalent or we send out calls for connection tinged with anger and frustration because we don’t feel confident and safe.
We wind up demanding rather than requesting which leads to power struggles rather than embraces.
We try to minimize our natural longing to be emotionally close and focus instead on actions that give only limited expression to our need. The most common is just focusing on sex.
* To do: don’t be distracted, give clear messages, request instead of demand, and embrace rather than struggle.
- Demon dialogues— Find the bad guy, Protest polka, Freeze and flee
The longer partners feel disconnected the more negative their interactions become. Don’t get caught up in the content of your fights like who’s right and who’s at fault. Your entire relationship becomes marked by resentment caution and distance. You see every disagreement through a negative filter. You hear threats. You assume the worst. You’re consumed by catastrophic fears and doubts, on guard and defensive.
You need to learn how to reconnect. Standard techniques such as problem-solving, communication skills, examining childhood hurt, taking time outs, etc are misguided and ineffective.
Slow things down to see the turning points and the options.
Threats we sense can come from the outside world and from our own inner world, true or imaginary—it’s our perception that counts not the reality.
* When marriages fail it is not increasing conflict that’s the cause, it’s decreasing affection and emotional responsiveness.
We are never more emotional than when our primary love relationship is threatened.
Couples need to see that their demon dialogs, their negative cycle is the enemy not each other.
Notice the spiral you both are creating. Why are these patterns so strong? Why do they keep repeating?
When you slow down the dance, softer emotions like sadness fear embarrassment and shame always appear.
Learn to take risks to show the softer side of yourself and the side that you’ve learned to hide. Confess your fears of loss and isolation. Create a new narrative.
- 3 key points to remember/believe:
Your emotions make sense.
Connect or flood?
A secure bond can withstand differences, wounds, and the test of time.
Accessibility— are you there for me? Can I reach you? Staying open to your partner when you have doubts or feel insecure.
Responsiveness— can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally? Tuning in to your partner and showing that their emotions, needs and fears matter to you. Placing a priority on emotional signals your partner sends and sending clear signals.
Engagement— do I know you will value me and stay close? Giving a special kind of attention that we give only to a loved one. Being emotionally present.
Use A.R.E. questionnaire
- The 7 Convos
- Exploring emotional connections- Questions to consider/attachment
What messages about love did you get from your parents? Community?
Have you ever experienced a safe loving relationship?
Do you have an image of what a safe loving relationship looks like?
Did your past relationships teach you that your loved ones were unreliable and that you had to be vigilant and fight to be seen or responded to? (Anxious attachment)
Did you learn that depending on others is dangerous and it’s best to distance yourself to not need others and avoid closeness? (Avoidant attachment)
Can you remember a time when you really needed to know someone was with you? What was that like and how did you cope?
Does this have an impact on you now?
If it’s hard for you to trust others and let them close what do you do when life gets too big to handle or when you feel alone?
Name two things that a safe engaged partner would do on a typical day for you.
In your present relationship can you ask your partner for closeness and comfort? Is this easy or hard? Do you feel this is a sign of weakness or too risky?
When you feel disconnected or alone are you likely to get emotional anxious push your partner or are you more likely to shut down and not feel?
Can you think of a moment when your partner reached out and you responded in a way to connect and vice versa? What does this feel like?
- Convo 1 Recognize your demon dialogues
In order to protect yourself you either avoid engagement by numbing denying or shutting down or you fight for recognition and response by demanding and being critical. This begins the dance.
- Find the bad guy
Dead end pattern of mutual blame that keeps you disconnected, blocks re-engagement and safety.
The purpose is self protection.
The main move is mutual attack accusation or blame.
“It’s not me it’s you. It’s them, It’s their fault, They need to change.”
Accuse <–> accuse back
* 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.
We cannot relax with our partners and we certainly cannot connect with or confide in them.
The more you attack, the more dangerous you appear to me, the more I watch for your attack, the harder I hit back.
Recognize that no one has to be the bad guy.
The accuse- accuse pattern itself is the villain and both partners are the victims.
* Content tube— Partners bring up detailed example after detailed example of each other’s failures to prove their point. They fight over whether these details are true and who’s bad behavior started this.
Stay in the present and focus on what is happening between you right now.
Look at the circle of criticism that spins both of you around.
There is no true start to a circle. Consider the circle, the dance as your enemy and the consequences of not breaking the circle. (Infinity Loop worksheet)
A desire to win the fight and prove the other is the bad guy has such a pull. Don’t get caught in it. When you win an argument, you’re losing the relationship.
Feel hurt/vulnerable—> feel out of control, feel emotionally unsafe, feel flooded —> need for control, get to homeostasis—> reactive anger, take preemptive strikes, have negative views of partner
- Protest polka
The most widespread dance.
Trying to get a response, a response that connects and reassures.
Demand-withdraw or criticize-defend pattern.
Partners can complain of communication problems or constant tension.
You may hardly ever have a real fight.
Impossible to feel safe together.
Eventually create such havoc that partners cannot solve problems or communicate clearly about anything.
An infant animal will attack a stonewalling mother in a desperate attempt to obtain recognition. It’s innate.
Sometimes it’s hard to see how your own feet move in the dance.
* Focus on your own moves rather than your partners.
Look for themes. Feeling hopeless and lacking the confidence to act, dealing with negative feelings by shutting down and coming out, viewing yourself as a failure, as an adequate, feeling judged and unacceptable, denying problems, avoidance…
Women tend to pursue, men tend to withdraw.
* Men say they do not know how to respond on an emotional level but they do, they do it when they feel safe- most often with their children.
The withdrawer’s engagement is the solution for the pursuer.
Most destructive is the belief that a healthy mature adult is not supposed to need emotional connection and so is not entitled to this kind of caring.
Look at the whole dance.
* Don’t just focus on specific steps especially the other person steps step back and see the whole picture. Front row vs balcony perspective.
Accept that it’s about connection.
Learn to see the pattern as the enemy not each other.
See past the argument about facts or problems and look at the struggle for connection.
What do you do tend to do when you feel disconnected or unsafe?
Be courageous, look hard and identify your usual response.
The more I, the more you, and then the more I, and round and round we go.
When is it possible to feel connected? Figure this out together.
Recognize attachment signals.
- Freeze and flee
Leaves numbness and distance.
Both people step back to escape hurt and despair.
The most dangerous dance.
* We can try to suppress our emotions but it doesn’t work. They seep out of every pore.
* In self protection mode you try to act as if you do not feel and do not need.
The pursuing critical partner gives up trying. They will grieve the relationship detach and leave. They are polite and calm cooperative.
The withdrawn partner finally tunes into the fact and agrees to get help. May be too late.
May have grown up in cold rational families where emotional distance was the norm.
We turn to the way of coping that we adopted as a child.
Admit that you’ve given up and built a wall.
New beginnings start with knowing how we create the trap that we are caught in.
Strong bonds grow from resolving to halt the cycles of disconnection, the dance of distress.
When we first become infatuated with someone we are willing to take any risks to be by their side.
* The facts of the fight aren’t the real issue.
Fill in Blanks: When __, I do not feel safely connected to you. I tend to __. I move this way in our dance to try to cope with difficult feelings and find a way to change our dance. I do it in the hope that __. As this pattern keeps going I feel __. What I then say to myself about it our relationship is __. My understanding of the circular dance that makes it harder and harder for us to safely connect is that when I move in the way I describe above you seem to then __. The more I __, the more you __. We are then both trapped in pain and isolation. Maybe we can warn each other when this dance begins. We can call it __. Seeing this dance is our first step out of the circle of disconnection.
- Convo 2 Finding the raw spots
A hypersensitivity formed when attachment needs have been repeatedly neglected ignored or dismissed.
People can have several raw spots although usually one is paramount.
Raw spots can occur during big transitions/crises or from chronic indifference.
* We don’t even recognize that we have raw spots- we are only aware of our secondary reaction to it. (Infinity Loop worksheet)
Constantly protecting your raw spot sabotages loving responsiveness you long for.
* When a raw spot is hit there’s a sudden radical shift in the emotional tone of the conversation.
The reaction to the offense often seems way out of proportion.
Take a closer look at the deeper emotions that are key to the sensitivity.
Don’t speed right past it to the defensive response. Doing this leads to negative dance cycle.
Each emotion has a specific signature (or action).
We move toward or away or against our partner. This readiness to act is wired into every emotion.
Anger tells us to approach and fight.
Shame tells us to withdraw and hide.
Fear tells us to flee or freeze or sometimes to fight back.
Sadness tells us to grieve and let go.
What was the trigger that created the emotional disconnection for you?
What was your general feeling in a split second before you reacted? Must slow down to recognize.
What did your partner specifically do or say that sparked this response?
What happens to your body when a raw spot is rubbed?
What do you say to yourself when a raw spot is rubbed?
“In this situation the trigger for my raw feeling was _. On the surface I probably showed _. But deep down I just felt _. What I longed for was _. The main message I got about our bond, about me, or my love was_.”
Does your partner see the vulnerability and needs below the surface or are they just seeing the reactive surface emotion? (Infinity Loop worksheet)
Can you guess at your partners raw spot?
Society says that were supposed to be strong and to be invulnerable. To ignore or deny our frailty. Our instinct is to protect ourselves.
* 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.
Not responding just fires up the primal panic of the other partner.
Let your partner know how hard it was for you to talk about your vulnerable emotions.
“When I think of sharing my softest feelings with you it’s hard to do. My worst fantasy is that what will happen is _. I moved in the dance by _ and I felt _. When I heard or saw _ I just felt _. When we get stuck in our cycle and I _ I feel _. The emotional trigger for my sense of disconnection is when I sense/see/hear _. On a deeper level I’m feeling _.”
- Convo 3 Revisiting a rocky moment
To reconnect, lovers have to be able to de-escalate the conflict and actively create a basic emotional safety.
- Stop the game — instead of I and you, use we; stop getting tangled up in attack/defend
- Claim your own moves — own/fess up; look inward; focus on what happened
- Claim your own feelings
- Own how you shape your partners feelings — our way of dealing with our emotions pull our partner off balance; your feelings effect the other
- Ask about your partners deeper emotions — be curious; focus on the big picture; slow down
- Share your own deeper softer emotions — underneath the reaction
- Stand together — practice; hit rewind; find common ground; be allies
Recognize that fear is a major driver.
- Convo 4 Hold me tight- engage and connect
Deliberately create moments of engagement and connection.
2 important questions: What am I most afraid of? What do I need most from you?
Don’t become allergic to your partner.
The goal is emotional clarity.
We try to stay away from what is strange. Strange is scary.
Handles are descriptive images, words, phrases that open the door into your inner most feelings and vulnerabilities, your emotional reality. Handles help you go to your deeper feelings.
What is the biggest catastrophe that could happen?
The basic emotion I’m hearing is _, is that right?
What’s the main threat?
Don’t dismiss your partners new revelations.
Don’t spin back to the negative cycle.
Attend and affirm these disclosures from your partner.
In unhappy relationships when one person takes a risk and opens up, the other partner doesn’t see or is afraid to trust the revelation. Don’t dismiss your lovers new steps toward you and spin back to demon dialogs.
* Attending to your partners deeper disclosures is the beginning of mutual responsiveness and engagement.
Don’t turn off or away, comfort them. (Gottman- accept bids)
What’s blocking you from opening up? Identify fears, if‘s, buts, consequences.
Reveal your fears while your partner reflects.
Connect and open up.
Are your handles (images phrases feelings) really just descriptions of fear shame sadness or loss?
Identify your terrible ifs- the worst things that might happen.
What do I need most from you?
A hockey mask protects your face but has to be taken off to communicate needs. Take off the mask. You’re safe now.
Accept me and don’t view my traits as flaws.
Stay with me and come close, show me you care especially when I don’t feel strong.
Touch me and hold me and tell me I matter to you.
Tell me that you can love me even with all my problems.
Change the music.
* I need to feel, to sense that: I’m special to you, I wanted by you, I’m loved and accepted, I am needed, I’m safe, I can count on you, I’ll be heard and respected, I can count on you to hear me, I can ask you to hold me.
- Convo 5 Forgiving injuries
Tell me what you need.
Couples begin making progress, tender feelings flow, and then Wham!, the oxygen gets sucked out of the room. Chill and despair set in. How can a small incident have this overwhelming power? To one partner it’s not minor it’s a grievous event.
Certain incidents do more than just touch our raw spot or hurt our feelings. These are relationship traumas.
A trauma plunges us into fear and helplessness, that challenges all our assumptions of predictability and control.
Traumas remain alive.
* Hyper-vigilance flashbacks and avoidance are the established indicators of traumatic stress.
Never again moments.
* Lack of an emotionally supportive response by a loved one at a moment of threat can color a whole relationship.
Are you there for me when I am most in need? Do you offer comfort? Some are also absorbed by trying to contain their own anxiety. They go into problem-solving mode. They try to handle relationship injuries by ignoring or bearing them. (Use MATCH method)
Although wounded partners often do feel betrayed, they primarily feel abandoned by their partner.
* Partners who inflict these injuries are not being malicious or purposely insensitive. They usually have the best of intentions. They do not know how to tune in to their loved ones attachment needs and offer the comfort of their presence. They’re trying to contain their own anxiety. They go into problem-solving mode. They try to handle relationship injuries by ignoring or burying them.
Compartmentalizing turns into distance.
The first goal for partners is forgiveness.
The second is willingness to trust again.
* Sometimes it’s just too hard to come out and show the core of our heart to the one who hurt us. But the pain always makes sense if we relate it to our attachment needs and fears. (Bottom of infinity loop)
Six steps to forgiveness
- Speak about your pain. Open and simply. Find the essence of your hurt. The underlying attachment hurts, needs, and fears.
- Stay present and acknowledge your partner and your role in their pain. If you do not see how you have hurt me how can I depend on you or feel safe with you? Mistakes are inevitable. We all sometimes miss our loved ones calls for closeness. We can get distracted or stuck.
- Revise your script. Move out from behind your protective wall and share your feelings.
- Take ownership and don’t dismiss. Express regret and remorse. Cannot be defensive. Show that our lovers pain has an impact on us. Let your manner, tone and nonverbals make it clear that you care. Explicitly tell the person that they are hurt and anger is legitimate. Own up to exactly what you did that was hurtful.
- Ask for what you need to bring closure to the trauma. Then the injuring partner can respond differently from the way they did in the original incident. Emotional connection cannot occur. This is an ARE conversation.
- Pull everything together for a new bigger perspective. As a team discuss how to help each other learn from and continue to heal this injury and prevent further injuries. Establish rituals to help. Repeat the steps if necessary. Integrate the injury with renewal. Injuries may be forgiven but they never disappear. Instead they become integrated into couples attachment stories as demonstrations of renewal and connection.
Reflect on how easy or hard it is to apologize even in small things. 1 to 10. 10 means you readily acknowledge that you have blindspots and make mistakes.
- The 4 second where is the exit apology “yeah sorry what’s for dinner?
- the minimizing responsibility apology “well maybe I did that but…”
- the forced apology “I guess I’m supposed to say…”
- the instrumental apology “nothing is going to work until I say this so…”
What you can say:
I let you down.
I didn’t see your pain or how you needed me.
I didn’t know what to do.
Tell your partner what you hoped for in that hurtful incident and how it felt to not get that response.
If you are the partner who has hurt your partner, see if you can help your partner understand why you responded the way you did at the moment of injury. Can you now recognize your partner’s experience, and how you inflicted pain and apologize?
As the injured partner can you accept the apology? Sum up the conversation together, its impact on your relationship, how you both recovered, and how you intend to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
- Convo 6 Bonding through sex and touch
Sex is a bonding experience.
Emotional connection creates great sex and great sex creates deeper emotional connection.
Satisfied partners see sex as just one of many sources of pleasure and intimacy while despondent partners hone in on sex and often view it as the chief source of trouble.
* Sex is a huge issue for dissatisfied partners because typically it’s the first thing affected when a relationship falters.
What’s really happening is that a couple is losing connection, the partners don’t feel emotionally safe with each other.
That leads to less desire and less satisfying sex which leads to less sex and more hurt feelings which leads to looser emotional connection and around it goes.
No safe bond no sex, no sex no bond.
* We are not wired to be wary or afraid and turned on at the same time.
Sealed Off sex You’ve never learned to trust and don’t want to open up or you’re feeling unsafe with your partner. This sex is toxic in relationships. The partner feels used and objectified rather than valued. It’s empty, and personal, and mechanical. Encounters are short and they hold back from any actions that could invite emotional engagement such as kissing.
Practiced mostly by men avoidant of emotion- a man can move through arousal to orgasm in seconds with minimal communication. A woman takes longer and is harder for her to stay focused on just sensation alone. The experience is one dimensional. Men think displaying too much emotion is wimpy.
Solace sex The focus is on alleviating fear or gaining reassurance.
If then thinking. If he desires me then I feel safe.
When sex is an anti-anxiety pill it cannot be erotic.
I can feel stable for a while but it can feed into raw spots and negative cycles.
Making love is like a security blanket.
Touch brings together two fundamental drives, sex and our need to be held and recognized by another.
Touch arouses and it soothes and comforts.
When you don’t touch you’re in trouble.
Men don’t asked to be held either because of conditioning or lack of skill. I think of this when female clients complain that men are obsessed with sex. I would be too if sex were the only place apart from the football field where I ever got touched or held.
The best recipe for good sex is a secure relationship where a couple can connect through convos and touch.
Getting used to asking for tender touch deepens a couples bond.
Synchrony sex The focus is on harmony.
Connected partners can reveal their sexual vulnerabilities and desires without fear of being rejected.
Resolving sexual problems
The orgasm project
Passion is not a constant.
Desire naturally waxes and wanes.
You can tolerate in frequent intercourse but you cannot tolerate feeling that your partner does not desire you.
Talk about sexual expectations.
Talk about anticipatory anxiety and moving into avoidance to protect yourself.
The inability to talk will come between you and your partner and hurt you/your relationship.
Can you stay with your hurt and reach out to your partner and can they hear the protest and respond?
In bed with your partner do you generally feel emotionally safe and connected?
What are your four most important expectations in bed?
What makes sex most satisfying for you?
What do you want to be able to do as a couple when sex isn’t working for you physically?
Tell each other one way in which the other is actually perfect for you in bed and out of bed.
Think of all the ways sex can show up in your relationship. Do you feel safe experiencing all of these with your lover?
What’s a risk you would like to take with your partner?
Can each of you think of a time in your relationship when sex was really satisfying?
What do you do when sex isn’t working for you emotionally? How can your partner help you here?
When do you feel most unsure or uncomfortable during sex?
When do you feel closest?
Do you enjoy fast or slow lovemaking?
Can you ask for what you want?
What helps you begin to open up emotionally and physically to sex?
What turns you on before lovemaking?
How long do you expect it to last?
What’s your preferred position?
- Convo 7: keeping love alive
Slipping back into old habits is easy. Stay vigilant and active.
- Recap and reflect on danger points in your relationship where you slide into insecurity and get stuck in your dialogs. Figure out detours and shortcuts that lead you back to safety.
- Celebrate positive moments big and small. Reinforce positive impacts you have on each other and articulate turning points in your relationship.
- Plan rituals around separations and reunions in your daily lives. Helps you not to become distracted from your busy chaotic lives. These are key attachment moments. Regular small gestures that say you matter to me.
- Help each other identify attachment issues and recurring differences and arguments and decide together how to defuse these. Allows you to solve problems. Safety first strategy. Once emotional safety is established you can bring up problems in softer less aggressive ways. Allows you to stay emotionally engaged. A secure bond leads to better problem-solving. You’re more cooperative open and flexible. Mundane problems remain that. Address attachment needs before problem-solving. Like insecurity vulnerability fear or abandonment.
- Create a resilient relationship story. Retell how you got stuck and what you learned from it how you reconnected and forgave. Getting stuck in your negative cycle often leads to feelings of confusion. Once you feel safe with each other you can create a clear story together. Sums up your past and gives a blueprint for the future. Recount how you got stuck in insecurity and found ways to move out of that together. Realize it’s a different marriage. Realize you express her differently. Realize you found your way back to being close.
Think of three adjectives that describe your relationship when it was stalled in insecurity and negative spirals. This may be when you decided to seek council. Dead ended, exhausted, minefield.
Think of two verbs that capture how each of you moved in your own negative dance and how you were able to change the pattern. Stuff, explode, blame, shut down. I pushed you turned away.
Describe one key moment when you saw each other differently, felt new emotions, and were able to reach for each other. This is the softening and thawing.
Think of three adjectives, emotions or images that express your relationship now. Playful, contented, delighted, blessed, hand in hand.
Think of one thing you’re doing to keep your connection with each other. Cuddling before we fall asleep, kissing when we wake up.
- Create a future love story. Outline what you want your bond to look like five and 10 years down the road. Actively plan for your future. How can you make it a reality together.
Love is a continual process of seeking and losing emotional connection, and reaching out to find it again.
Harmony disharmony repair.
Love is a living thing.
* Attention is the oxygen that keeps the relationship alive and well.
- What are your detours? Are they: Ultimatums, storm off, yelling, smart remarks.
- Instead: empathize, slow down, share how you really feel deep down, and be vulnerable.
North American couple spend an average of 12 minutes a day talking together. Mostly about scheduling and chores.
Your marriage is your main investment.
Notice when there are emerging danger points in your relationship.
Identify small positive moments in your relationship.
Be sure to tell them.
Single out key moments when your partner took a risk of becoming more open and responsive.
Celebrate moments of connection.
Notice and share the good.
Turn towards. (Accept bids.)
Have special reminders that keep you connected.
What are you don’t recognize slips away. You don’t _ anymore.
Design your own bonding rituals. (Easy A’s)
Regularly hold, hug, and kiss on waking, sleeping, leaving home, and returning.
Write letters or notes to one another.
Participate in spiritual or other rituals together like family meals, planting spring flowers, attending church.
Call during the day just to check in.
Create a personal sharing ritual, a time that is for sharing personal things and connecting not for problem-solving. Share time.
Arrange a special time to be together, Sunday mornings.
Maintain a regular date night.
Do a project together.
Recognize special days.
Decide to attend to your partners daily struggles and victories and validating them on a regular basis.
Publicly recognize your partner and your relationship.
The quality of our central relationships affects how we face and heal from trauma.
* Trauma is any terrifying event that instantly changes the world as we know it. Big T’s and little t’s
* Trauma is always a couple issue. Partners feel the sting and stress as they watch their lovers cope with their wounds.
Secure bond helps us deal with and heal from trauma.
Soothing our pain and gives us comfort.
It helps us hold onto hope.
It assures us.
It helps us make sense of what happened.
Emotional connection is crucial to healing.
Going it alone after trauma, shutting down all emotions in an attempt to control the emotional turmoil, is disastrous for people and their relationships.
It can create walls or lead to substance abuse.
It can drive their partners away.
It can lead to suicide.
* While trauma survivors desperately need their loved ones support they often react in ways that push that help away.
With all traumas, chronic fear and anger are problematic after effects.
Feelings of shame afflict survivors.
After trauma, we feel scarred, contaminated, or just plain bad.
Trauma survivors need reassurance and a safety net to land on.
Out of pain comes strength and connection if we can learn to use the power of love.
Culture encourages us to compete rather than connect
Our need for others to come close when we call is absolute.
Emotional starvation is a reality.
Feeling emotionally deserted, rejected, or abandoned sparks physical and emotional pain and panic.
There are very few ways to cope with our pain when our primary needs for connection are not met.
Emotional balance, calm and vibrant joy are the rewards of love.
There is no perfect performance in love or sex.
Obsession with performance is a dead end.
It is emotional presence that matters.
In relationships there’s no simple cause-and-effect, no straight lines, only circles that partners create together.
Emotion tells us exactly what we need if we can listen to it and use it as a guide.
We all hit the panic button at times. We lose our balance and slip into anxious, controlling, numbing, and avoiding modes. The secret is to not stay in these positions. It’s too hard for your partner to meet you there.
Key moments of bonding take courage but they are magical and transforming.
Forgiving injuries is essential and only happens when partners can make sense of their own hurt and know that their lover connects and feels that hurt with them.
Lasting passion is entirely possible in love.
Neglect will kill love.
Love needs attention.
Knowing your attachment needs and responding to those of your lover can make a bond last until death do us part.
All the clichés about love are truer than we ever imagined.
Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!