The experience we have with our caregivers and our early life experiences become the lens through which we view our self worth and our capacity to be empathetic, caring, and genuine. As children, our parents are the center of our universe. If they think badly of us, then it must be true and we come to feel that way about ourselves. A child has no perspective from which to cast doubt on this assessment. We then ‘internalize’ their negative opinion and incorporate it into our view of ourselves. If we were regularly criticized or demeaned we can easily develop a damaged sense of self worth.
Harmful child experiences (even those not remembered consciously) can force us to close our hearts in an attempt at self-protection from further pain. There is no such thing as perfect parents. We all have ‘baggage’ from our pasts and we construct walls of emotional scar tissue to close over our unhealed wounds. This protective barrier locks us in and others out. And, it can inhibit our ability to develop close connections with others.
The attachment styles we develop in childhood stay with us for a lifetime, unless amended and changed by therapeutic intervention. These styles influence our feelings of security, the personal meaning given to our experiences, and the ability to develop and maintain intimacy with others.
The good news is that attachment styles learned in our early years can be changed. Working with adults, I focus on patterns of attachment. I explore how the past remains alive in the present in a form that is rigid and not condusive to healthy and secure relationships. Then, I provide opportunities to integrate and heal these obstacles to growth and happiness.