– the state of being personally attached: FIDELITY
– affectionate regard
– psychology : a strong emotional bond that an infant forms with a caregiver (such as a mother) especially when viewed as a basis for normal emotional and social development
– the process by which an infant forms such an emotional bondMerriam-Webster Dictionary
There are two types of attachment described in trauma work: secure attachment and insecure attachment. Whatever your attachment style, its development was for the purpose of survival. As an infant, if you had a felt sense that the world is a safe place to be, then you would have developed a secure attachment style. However, if you grew up thinking and feeling that the world was an unsafe place to be, then you would have developed an insecure attachment style. Both of these styles are wired into your nervous system when you were a baby inside and outside of your mother’s womb. In fact, the first thing to develop in utero was your nervous system. Without your nervous system, you would have died. So, how you show up in the world today as well as how you relate to yourself and others is a clue as to the degree to which your nervous system was developed early in life.
To develop a secure attachment, a baby’s mother (or primary caregiver) needs to consistently and predictably respond to and meet the needs of her baby, resulting in a baby whose nervous system has learned to trust that her mother will quickly and thoroughly provide for her and keep her safe.
People who have an insecure attachment pattern, on the other hand, have developed an out-of-balance nervous system in infancy because the baby had learned that she could not rely on her mother to meet her needs. This could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps her mother was continually distracted or stressed out. She may not have been fully present and aware of what was going on with her baby. Or maybe she was just absent altogether, leaving her child for extended periods of time. This will cause the baby to feel unsafe and insecure. She will feel that there is no one to rely upon, causing the baby to go into a freeze response in order to shut off her suffering. She will not feel a sense of trust and safety in her nervous system. Before any kind of attachment of feelings of love, trust must be present first. The baby learns this pattern of insecurity that she will bring with her into adulthood.
In order to develop a secure attachment, a mother must be “attuned” to her baby. Attunement is the rapid communication between a baby and her mother that exists on both conscious and subconscious levels. When a baby cries, gets startled, or simply shuts down, an attuned mother will be sensitive to these cues that her baby needs her care. She will see that the baby receives comfort or otherwise has her needs met, resulting in a baby’s nervous system that feels safe and supported. The baby will be well-regulated baby and grow to develop a healthy curiosity, a sense of wonder, and a playful disposition.
If, however, the baby is not comforted or does not get her needs met, she will develop a nervous system that is shut down, hypervigilant, and insecure. Instead of developing in a healthy way, she will have a felt sense of danger and a feeling of being unsupportive. She will not develop the strong bond of trust that is needed in order to be a healthy, happy, and whole person.
Regulation goes hand and hand with attunement and is at the core of attachment trauma.
Attachment trauma is a disruption in the important process of bonding between a baby or child and his or her primary caregiver. That trauma may be overt abuse or neglect, or it may be less obvious—lack of affection or response from the caregiver. Attachment trauma may occur if there are traumatic experiences in the home while a baby is forming the bond, and it also may result from the absence of the primary caregiver, such as from divorce, serious illness, or death. The consequences of attachment trauma are far-reaching and long-lasting…https://www.brightquest.com/relational-trauma/what-is-attachment-trauma/#:~:text=Attachment%20trauma%20is%20a%20disruption,or%20response%20from%20the%20caregiver.
At birth, babies are completely helpless and cannot survive on their own, but they can do two things: They can cry when they are upset or have a need such as food to relieve their hunger or a diaper change to become more comfortable, and, if their need is not met, they can go into a freeze response in order to shut off the distress of not having those needs met. Again, this is for the sake of survival.
A baby cannot regulate her own nervous system. This doesn’t happen until she grows older. As an infant, she will need her mother’s nervous system to help regulate her own. This is called co-regulation, which means that the mother’s relaxed nervous system will help bring her baby’s activated nervous system to calm down into a relaxed state.
How well regulated is your nervous system?
Not only do babies need to regulate, but so do all people of all ages. Regulation is your ability to keep your nervous system in a spectrum of balance and health. Your physical, emotional, and psychological health is built upon your ability to auto-regulate your own nervous system.
The way your brain was developed and your nervous system was wired throughout your childhood has a major impact on how you regulate your emotions, as well as the habits you’ve developed, and the way you relate to yourself and others.
If you can wire something into a nervous system, you can wire it out. This is good news. There are strategies that you can use to calm down and heal your nervous system which will give you a sense of support and safety in your body.
Trauma work can help people stay out of the fight state and become less reactive and defensive in a world they see as threatening and unsafe.
Trauma work can keep you out of the flight state by becoming less passive and compliant which is a strategy you may have developed for self-preservation.
Trauma work can also stop you from becoming habitually frozen by hiding or shutting down due to fear and overwhelm. Instead of emotionally shutting down and escaping your life, you can begin to come alive and show up in the world more bravely and authentically.
Trauma work is about developing a more balanced nervous system, which will result in developing a felt sense of trust in yourself as well as other people in your life whom you dearly love.
If you have an insecure attachment style, and most people do, trauma work can help you to heal your nervous system and bring balance back into your body and life.
Go gently. And be patient.
Trauma lives in the body. To heal your past trauma, you need to heal your body. If you would like help in learning how to do that, I can help.
Click HERE to book a call with me and learn more about how we can work together. I would love to meet you and hear your story.
When working with me, I will give you the guidance, compassion, and support you need. If you would like to talk about your own experiences with someone who understands, I am only a click away.
I am a certified Mind Body Eating Psychology Coach and am currently studying to become a Biology of Trauma Provider. My goal when exhausted women ask, “Why am I so tired all the time?” is to help them explore their story to see what has happened in the past that is draining their energy today. In addition to coaching, blogging, reading, and studying, I am a professional trumpet player. I also enjoy exercising, cooking, gardening, calligraphy, and helping others achieve their goals.
Information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition.