Attachment is an inborn system in the brain which evolves in ways that influence and organize motivational, emotional, and memory processes with respect to significant caregiving figures. Designed to increase an infant’s survival, this system motivates infants to seek proximity to caregivers and to establish communication with them. Simply put, our early experiences with our primary caregivers form an internal template which exerts a powerful, unconscious influence on our adult relationships.
The quality of our earliest relationships with our caregivers— whether we felt seen, valued, and had our needs met in a loving and timely way—determine our ultimate experience of ourselves and others as adults. Therefore, if we never had our needs met in a timely fashion, or even if they were met where done so on an unpredictable schedule, a negative attachment pattern is established. Attachment problems negatively affect our feeling of safety and our capacity to connect with the world around us.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but, it is important to note that as children, our parents are the ‘all powerful’ center of our universe; whatever they think about us must be true, and their treatment of us deserved. Consequently, due to the lack of perspective from which to cast doubt on their assessments, they are internalized and incorporated into how we view ourselves— negative or positive. And whether our caregivers were simply unknowing, unable, or unavailable to provide adequate attention and nurturing, or regardless if their treatment of us was intentionally or unintentionally hurtful, the impact remains the same.
Attachment issues, sometimes called developmental trauma, can set us up for an unbelievably difficult time having genuine self-esteem, and creating the safe, healthy, nurturing, and satisfying relationships we crave.