The Power of Human Connection
Humans are born wired for connection, it’s in our DNA, as strong a need as food, water and shelter. If you look at a newborn baby, this would make perfect sense. Unless babies successfully attach to their mother, they won’t be able to survive. This is because human infants are born completely helpless, so they are entirely reliant on their caregivers. A loving, secure relationship is literally a matter of life and death for babies.
John Bowlby, who is often referred to as the ‘father’ of attachment theory realised that all children (and adults) need a secure attachment to their caregivers, especially mum. If we are lucky enough to develop this secure attachment in infancy, this ‘attachment style’ will remain constant throughout our lifetime and help us form strong, stable, loving relationships with friends, romantic partners and then our own children.
However, when I see clients in therapy they often don’t come from a secure attachment style for various reasons, their attachments were not secure as children, so they have all sorts of problems in relationships now. Perhaps they struggle to commit or dive in too quickly and deeply. They may avoid relationships altogether because they are just too painful. But, as I always tell my clients, although these patterns are firmly established in our brains, they are not set or fixed in any way. Our brains are always changing, throughout our lifetime, thanks to neuroplasticity. This remarkable discovery means that we can learn to attach more securely and so learn to love, to trust, to allow others into our lives.
This is one of the most moving and beautiful aspects of therapy, seeing people learn to deepen and strengthen their connections, first with me, then family, friends and later a romantic partner, even if this seems like an Everest-sized obstacle at the beginning of our work. However daunting it seems, remember that you are never too old and it is never too late to let love blossom. We are born ready to love, it’s just the painful experiences we have when young that throw us off the path toward fulfilling relationships. All you have to do with help, guidance and support is step back on to the path.