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Identities, Parts, of Who We Are

Some people who listened to the Attachment Theory article on the Educational Videos tab saw themselves as being one of the four types of attachment style but also saw themselves as being a bit in the other styles as well.

So why is this?

Because we are made of hundreds if not thousands of characters (parts or identities) all wanting to have a say in the running of us!

Now, before we go any further, this isn’t some sort of la la land theory – it’s a recognised psychotherapy observation of the human psyche and we are NOT talking about any form of schizophrenia either.

In that article, as examples of people who were avoidantly or ambivalently attached, I gave a short anecdote of how each individual was dominated by a part or identity that took over, either momentarily, or for an extended period, each of their lives. (Like the ‘protective father’ who wanted to throw me out of the 17th floor window – or the more dominant types – the ‘romantic’ who flitted from guy to guy, the ‘control freak’ mother who micro-managed her daughter’s life, and the ‘womaniser’ who ran out of his home because of his feelings of entrapment.) These were just four I mentioned in that article, but below are some other examples of parts or identities that people have, that they can unconsciously slip into or be dominated by:

The loudmouth, the workaholic, the joker, the judge, the stud, the pervert, the timid introvert, the glamour queen, the tart, the snob, the pauper, the miser, the airhead, the intellect, the ‘know it all’, the poser, the materialist, the wall flower, the depressive etc, etc, etc. all clamouring to be heard (a bit like an orchestra tuning up!), and all with their particular behaviours that make them who they are.
Looking at these types, did you see any of them in your friends? And can you spot any of these characters in yourself?

There will always be one fairly dominant identity which will overshadow your life and while you might not see it, most of your friends will see it in you.

Adding a little more depth to parts or identities, if you have ever wondered why on a particular day you want to behave in a certain way or want a particular something, and the next day want to do or want something almost opposite, it’s because you have two parts or identities in opposition to each other. So you get the ‘prude’ in opposition to the ‘promiscuous playgirl’ or the ‘bar lounge lizard’ in opposition to the ‘workaholic’, all of which makes life on occasions rather a confusing mess! (This becomes more apparent sometimes when we have had too much to drink – I have seen many ‘prudes’ become the ‘promiscuous playgirl’!!)

These parts or identities are problematic when they are obsessive and you don’t realise you are acting out their drive. So the first step is to recognise the ones that are giving you a hard time (or who are giving others a hard time, such as the control freak) and once you have done that, to look at how they behave. The whole purpose of understanding these parts is so YOU don’t get dictated to by their wayward behaviours. It’s by fully understanding them that they come to terms with the fact that YOU are the boss. You can still use their behaviours and skills when the need arises – so it becomes a ‘work with’ harmonious relationship, which has an overall effect of adding to your power. If you want more you can find a chapter about this in my book – Happiness – who wants it.

Experiencing Love

While most parents love their infant or toddler what they don’t realise is how that infant experiences that love i.e. the infant’s perception of love.
Because their brain isn’t on line up to the age of three they cannot rationally figure about the love they receive – they either experience the parent overall as a positive, loving, empathic, nurturing force in their company….. or not. They can’t decide ‘mmm that was a loving gesture’ – they just experience a sense that it was OK ……or not …… and that shapes their brain along with their behaviours and future view of the world.
Consider an infant whose loving mum can’t deal with their upsets and shuts them in their room. Without a brain ‘on line’ they cannot think, ‘Oh she’s in the other room’. Gone means gone, along with the terror of escalating insecurity. That’s all they can experience at that young age.
While each of us is different there is a good chance – if it happens regularly – that they will see mum as untrustworthy and develop anxiety. Or their perception of mum’s apparent lack of love will be too much for them and being too painful will ingrain the idea that loving is dangerous and cut off their own capacity to love. The same goes for dad. Do they perceive him as loving or distant and unavailable?
We see this played out in relationships as a result of this. A desperately needy partner will constantly be checking on their spouse, likely checking their phone when they are asleep to ensure there is no one else. Or, on the other extreme the partner who never lets their spouse ‘in’, is independent, because they fear that should they (the partner) leave if they do let them in, the loss will be devastating. So they avoid closeness.
Or you get the partner who experienced mum as loving and grows up secure with the capacity to love, along with a trusting relationship. About 50% of couples experience this type of relationship.
How do you experience love?
Copyright ©
Colin Mills

Genes, depression and post natal depression

Genes,  depression and post natal depression.

I have never considered that genes played a big part in depression. It never came up in my training and in my own thinking that I sucked out of my thumb, I figured that maybe it was about 1% of those people who were suffering from depression may have been caused by genes. It wasn’t until I met a psychologist who expounded the ‘gene fad’, that I needed to think  about  genes and their supposed  role in depression more deeply.  I had been unaware of this research which according to him, explained depression and had swept the world. I remember thinking; ‘no wonder it’s popular – it’s alleviated millions of parents guilt about the way they’ve brought up their children’. Not good enough parenting could now be blamed on genes.

I didn’t buy it – it didn’t fit with my experience I had gained in counselling prior to that – people with depression had been helped considerably after therapy – so something was wrong. Fortunately, following on from that period of gene belief there was an awful lot of research going on that was tying in psychotherapy with neuroscience and now in 2014 I believe we have a correct answer to the cause of depression.

Un-empathic nurturing  of an infant or child is likely to play a major role in determining whether a ‘depression gene’ will be activated. To say this another way is that we might have genes that are ‘depression genes’ but they have be activated through not good enough parenting.

What does ‘not good enough’ parenting look like? That’s a big study – if you want to read about it it’s in my book ‘Happiness – who wants it.’ The sad news is that many, many psychotherapists aren’t trained in this area so the understanding of the source of depression is missed.   If you are suffering from depression and haven’t made a decision yet about choosing a therapist it might be good to ask him or her the following questions before you commit:

What is your approach to depression? Do you believe that it is caused by genes and that the poor or un-empathic parenting one receives in infanthood and childhood has nothing to do with this?

Will you focus primarily on the way my childhood is causing my depression?

How familiar are you with attachment theory and will you focus on my attachment with others?

Any waffling answer and I suggest you keep looking!

Facinating video on Left/Right brain when they stop talking to each other

Before you watch this video bear in mind that many severely abused infants develop schizophrenia, seemingly because their left brain and right brain don’t connect properly to each other.  This video helps to us to understand this function.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

Why We Can’t Always Get What We Want – and how to change that. Part 2

Please read Part 1 below first -Thanks for your comments from Part 1.

Part 2

Naturally there are other factors that contribute to why we don’t get what we want. Some of these are:

  • Our own place on the path – how aware, compassionate, knowledgeable, wise, caring and wilful we are – all factors that indicate this.
  • The culture of our parents and how they moulded us

Our own place on the path

I believe this is one of the major factors in why we don’t get what we want. Life is a learning experience and we gain a little more wisdom each time we attain something we have wanted, thereby making it easier next time around.

The culture of our parents and how they moulded us

Our parents were moulded into their way of being by their parents and culture. So that’s who they believe they are. The chances are, because it works for them, that they will create you in the same way.

Let me refresh in your mind the last article and the quote from it:

As an infant, you are little else but presence – natural being. Spend a few minutes with a baby and you feel it. Whether energetic of quiet, solid or sweet, that presence is palpable. Gradually, you lose that unmistakeable quality as you and those around you become more focused on what you look like, how you behave, and what you say and do than on the fact of your being. A.H. Almaas

This is an amazingly profound statement!! Our parents are our only means of survival and if we want to survive we had better get their approval!! Their disapproval (apart from physical abuse) comes in the form of:

  • Impatience
  • Disapproving looks
  • Roughness – another form of impatience
  • Psychic projections
  • Anger or rage
  • Not being present, for e.g. a glazed look because a mom is wrapped up in her own emotions and not paying attention and communicating properly. This results in feelings of abandonment and rejection.
  • Us not meeting our parents’ creation of how they wanted us to be.

Let me remind you again that our brains are not ‘on line’ as infants – we can’t rationalise.

Can you also see that it wouldn’t have to be individual traumatic experiences that took us away from who we are, but the drip, drip effect of not having our beingness or presence acknowledged?

As adults we cannot remember the terrible effects this had on us simply because we became who we are now. We are that conditioning and it’s likely we will pass it on to our kids, because we have lost the ability to be empathic and attuned.

Empathy

 

The true definition of empathy means being able to experience what the other is experiencing. This isn’t imagining what its like because something similar happened to you. It’s actually feeling what the other person feels and comes about through increasing our awareness or having it in the first place. It stands to reason that if we could empathise with what our infant was experiencing we wouldn’t do what we are doing. Many moms are capable of this and become very distressed when their attunement to their infants fails them – they feel their infant’s distress but aren’t attuned enough to pick up what is happening with him/her.

Attunement

 

Just to refresh your memory, attunement is about being able to tune into your infant’s needs and supply them. The more attuned you are to your infant the more he or she will feel seen or mirrored. In other words you are duplicating the infant’s feelings and being in such a way that she knows she is being held in being.

 

 

If you watched the Mary Ainsworth (strange situation) video on Youtube you will be aware of the difference between a securely attached child and a non-securely attached child. It goes without saying that we take this attachment forward into adulthood which then affects our relationships. If we are insecurely attached we are needy, dependent or we just can’t have relationships as being close is too painful. Depending on the economic and social area you were brought up in, surveys show that secure attachment ranges from 20% to 40%.  So, at worst, 40% of people have attachment problems. And that’s a lot of lost life force particles!

To go back to the purpose of this article – getting what you want – how much of a role do you think secure attachment would play in helping you get what you want?????

The truth of the situation is that, depending what you want, it’s rather a hit and miss affair. But if you want to go down that road and  get those life force particles back, there’s an easy, quick, new way that allows that to happen, backed by neuro-scientific proof. You may not get what you want but it’s almost guaranteed that you will find more of the real you – secure, grounded, loving, joyful and compassionate.  Contact me if you want more information.

Colin

Why We Can’t Always Get What We Want – and how to change that. Part 1

Why we can’t always get what we want and some suggestions to help.

 

 

About 6 months ago I attended a mainstream neurobiological course in London that opened the door to my understanding  as to why we struggle sometimes to get what we want. You might find it interesting.

As infants, traumatic happenings did happen to us during our development from 0 to at least 3 yrs of age that we all experienced. Despite being loved by our parents, where traumatising us would have been furthest from their minds, false beliefs, ignorance, conditioning  and their emotional state would have helped to create this. So, for example,  being conditioned to being quiet and subdued got you approval from your parents as children, but the chances are it’s  not going to make you the life and soul of the party when you grow up!

Because our brains weren’t ‘on line’ before the age of 2 we aren’t, in most cases, able to access these experiences of what happened. Regardless of who you are, this was probably the most traumatic time of your life, even though, according to our parents, ‘nothing bad happened.’  Ways have now been discovered to recall that period and uncover what we as infants perceived at times as situations that were unbearable and dissipating them (taking the force and energy out of them). So what was unbearable? To find out and help you understand this more, watch my video on www.whatmakesyoutick.org on the HOME  page which helps to explain this.

The reality is that we were shaped into who we are now because it was too unsafe to stay the person we were born as. Perhaps this quote will make it clearer:

As an infant, you are little else but presence – natural being. Spend a few minutes with a baby and you feel it. Whether energetic or quiet, solid or sweet, that presence is palpable. Gradually, you lose that unmistakeable quality as you and those around you become more focused on what you look like, how you behave, and what you say and do than on the fact of your being. A.H. Almaas

Being ‘shaped’ means we lost this presence, this essence, and simultaneously lost many life force particles becoming who we are now. (Just to clarify – our presence is unique – we are not all born the same). So, being an infant and being shut in a room away from our mother, for example, can be a trauma of unbearable pain, simply because at that young age our brains are not wired to think, ‘Oh, she’s in the living room and will be back soon’. We just can’t do that. The terror we experienced would be the equivalent of, say, being attacked and raped in a dark alley if we were an adult.

But it isn’t just these ‘one off’s’ like the above that create the problems. The more our essence and presence is not attuned to by our moms, the more traumatic life on a daily basis becomes. To understand this better go to youtube and search for ‘strange situation’ or ‘Mary Ainsworth’ to help you. Interestingly this was researched in the 1950s.

To clarify ‘attuned’, it’s like twiddling the knob on a radio until we ‘pick up’ the presenter loud and clear. Similarly if we are attuned to our infant we ‘pick up’ what he/she needs and consequently they continue to feel ‘seen’.

Not being attuned to really doesn’t feel good. To help you get the idea, can you remember when someone in recent times has failed to understand you to the point where you feel totally unsupported, unseen and unheard and how you felt because of that?

Infants can’t speak so mothers have to be attuned. Naturally no mother is ever going to get it completely right but the more she does the more her child remains him or herself i.e. remains in essence or in presence.

If you watched the video on Youtube (Strange situation) you will have seen  the consequences of good and poor attunement. Good attunement allows us to live more in the present.

So, let me leave you with this question: If we can keep our presence, our essence, through those formative years from 0 to 3 what do you think the chances are of getting what we want in life?

Happy pondering!! I’ll take this further when I get a chance.

……………………………….

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