Relationship Matters by Susanna Hoare

by Susanna Hoare

31Our minds, bodies and hearts are designed by nature to want to be in relationship of all kinds. We are wired for connection and to fear abandonment. Our impulses to relate and read each other’s subtle signals so that we can co-operate, live together work together are hardwired into us at a deep mind/body level and they inform and create our drive to attach. Without this hard-wiring for love and closeness, and the feelings of need, fear, pain and protectiveness that surround it, our species could not survive.

Children attach to their parents, parents attach to their children. Our survival depends on our ability to form and maintain sustaining relationships. That’s why the emotions associated with these “survival relationships” are so powerful and intense, and why we go to such extraordinary lengths to keep these relationships intact. Our sense of self is inter-woven with our sense of relationship at a fundamental level because relational dynamics that we experience with those who raise us literally becomes part of our neural wiring. That is why losing someone we love can feel like we are losing a part of ourselves, why when our family fragments we fragment inside. These emotions associated with attachment are coded into our DNA to ensure our survival.

Communication starts with the relationship we have with our first carer and if that carer was unresponsive, inconsistent, or depressed problems are likely to develop later in life. Having experiences of parents who were unable (due to their own difficulties) to relate to us can leave a legacy of inner torment and confusion. When a parent regularly does not understand or gives up trying the child will have to adapt and compensate for that. Most parents try to do their best.

The severity of this experience varies but the trauma is to be measured by what is left unresolved within us. Unresolved trauma takes many different shapes ranging from complaints and discomforts in life, discontent, self-criticism, numbness.

If you are having problems with your relationships therapy can help by making you more aware and reflective about your responses. By increasing awareness and understanding of the impact our histories we can have greater choices in how to be.