What Are the Effects of Circle #3 Carried into Adulthood?

From last week we learned that secure attachment with our parents provides many benefits. Certainly the foremost is the probability of higher success rates in adult relationships, such as dating, marriage, work relationships and parenting.

The secure experience minimizes the pain experienced from the conflict and alienation experienced by those from more dysfunctional homes. And while secure attachment does not provide salvation, it certainly makes the concept of a loving heavenly Father easier to imagine.

For the majority of us who had an insecure attachment in FOO #3, life is harder… both as a child and as an adult. We start off in a hole with less developed skills. The relational brain circuits that were formed in the securely attached child weren’t as successfully developed within us.

Therefore, we have:

  • Less ability to manage stress
  • Less capacity to repair ruptures
  • Less likely to seek and find relief in relationship
  • Less likely to regulate self well, more prone to dysregulation.

As we note within our two books How We Love and How We Love Our Kids these insecure imprints take on predictable patterns.

They appear as follows:

  • Avoider:  The emotionally cool and detached person who when stressed by theirs or other’s emotions, reacts and becomes uncomfortable internally and withdraws from the person causing stress.  If pushed or trapped in an emotional corner, the avoider uses anger to get people to back away.  This attachment style lacks empathy for self or the pain that is causing the other person to pursue.
  • Pleaser: The rescuing caretaking person who wants everyone to be happy.  They can only feel good about themselves if others are happy and approve of them.  They become dysregulated with confrontation and unresolved conflict.
  • Vacillator:  Is a term we coined, but in the attachment research they are referred to as “ambivalent” or “preoccupied”.  They are called ambivalent because of the conflicting push and pull they create in relationships, alternating between wanting closeness and then pushing the person away.  The term preoccupied refers to their absorption, obsession and ruminating about their insecurity within relationships in which they imagine and project motivations and intentions of others.
  • Controller:  Having survived a chaotic, difficult and possibly abusive childhood, this style emerges into adulthood with little empathy and are bound and determined to make everyone stay within the limits that make them the least agitated.   They are the autocratic / dictatorial person who can be male or female who when pushed will use anger and intimidation to demand conformity.
  • Victim: This person will come from the same type of home as the controller.  Yet, having become used to staying under the radar, following a path of least resistance and tolerating abuse, they adopt the same lifestyle when they grow into adults.  They are childlike men and women with very little capacity to resist or assert themselves with mature opinions or adult voice.

Kay is a recovering Avoider and I am a recovering Pleaser.  We’ve been working on escaping these negative gravitational fields for twenty five years, and now we hardly resemble the immature parts of our former selves.

How did this change take place? The answer next week: FOO #4 to the rescue. Thanks for listening, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Love and Blessings,

Milan & Kay