Narcissism & profound alienation

Narcissistic personalities tend to be formed by emotional injury as a result of overwhelming shame, loss or deprivation during childhood. The irony is that despite showing an outwardly strong personality, deep down these individuals suffer from profound alienation, emptiness and lack of meaning.

Narcissistic Abuse in the Family

The most common trait of a narcissistic parent is a lack of empathy for the feelings and thoughts of their child. The atmosphere from moment to moment in this kind of household hinges on the mood of the caregiver. A role reversal takes place whereby the child must meet the emotional demands of the adult rather than vice versa.  These children are constantly having to suppress their own desires in order to please the parent. But trying to placate the narcissist is an impossible task and the child ends up being treated with contempt anyway. The result is that the child internalises a sense of shame in the belief that he/she has failed to live up to parental expectations. These children constantly tread on eggshells and have little choice but to surrender to the narcissist’s control or risk igniting their rage.

Never Good Enough: A Child’s Perspective

The experience of childhood trauma of this nature can have a major impact on the psyche of the adult children of narcissists.  In later life, these individuals may feel deeply insecure and suffer from low self-esteem – this is unsurprising having been told constantly that they were not good enough. Such adults may also struggle with personal identity issues, not knowing who they are or what they want out of life. He/she may only feel self-worth in relation to the emotional needs of others; indeed, the need to please others may be taken to extreme lengths in adult relationships. Having experienced a constant barrage of criticism and judgement, it may be a struggle to form intimate relationships and to believe in one’s own intrinsic value.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence, they are not sure of their self-worth and are easily upset by the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial matters. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favours or admiration that they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships troubled and unfulfilling, and other people may not enjoy being around them.

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centres around talk therapy, also called psychotherapy.

Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Some children may show traits of narcissism, but this is often typical for their age and doesn’t mean they’ll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.

Having narcissistic tendencies — like bragging or making yourself the centre of attention — are normal when they occur occasionally.

However, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is different. Symptoms are more severe, occur across different situations and environments, and make relationships with others challenging, if not impossible.

What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?

Use the acronym “SPECIAL ME” to remember the nine signs of NPD.

SPECIAL ME

  1. Sense of self-importance
  2. Preoccupation with power, beauty, or success
  3. Entitled
  4. Can only be around people who are important or special
  5. Interpersonally exploitative for their own gain
  6. Arrogant
  7. Lack empathy
  8. Must be admired
  9. Envious of others or believe that others are envious of them

How is NPD diagnosed?

Trained mental health professionals conduct a structured interview to learn more about an individual’s typical behaviour patterns. If someone consistently displays at least five of the SPECIAL ME traits, they meet the diagnostic criteria for the condition.

Is NPD genetic?

No, there is no gene for NPD, and people are not born with it. Like other mental health conditions, environment is a major factor. Children who are encouraged to believe they are extraordinary and always deserve the best — sometimes at the expense of others — could later develop NPD. In these children, traits like confidence are rewarded, while qualities like empathy are not.

Are narcissist’s bad people?

Narcissists are not bad people; it’s their behaviour that’s problematic. They have been conditioned to believe that they are special and deserve to be treated better than others and approach the world accordingly.

NB: Whilst living with someone with NPD can be extremely challenging, if we take the time to understand that the person may have come out of a family where in order to survive or to escape abuse of sorts, they learned an adaptation style to save themselves. We then can come from a place of empathy and encourage them to seek help.

Can I have a relationship with someone with NPD?

It depends. If your romantic partner, family member, or boss has NPD, they can make your life challenging. Because they put themselves first, you may feel belittled, and your mental health could suffer. Coping strategies include setting personal boundaries and gently walking away if they are breached. However, this is not always easy to do. Calling your partner a narcissist won’t help either. Instead, you should focus on your well-being and decide what you are willing to tolerate.

Can people recover from NPD?

Yes, but changing a learned behaviour takes time and effort. People with NPD do not generally seek help on their own, and if they do, it is often because of a co-existing problem, like anxiety. Because there is no proven medication or therapy to treat NPD, providers take an individualised approach. Getting to know the patient and establishing a trusting relationship are key components of treatment. If a person is willing to change and their therapist can help them bridge the gap between their current and desired behaviours, there is hope for recovery.

NB: If Narcissism is not addressed and treated there is a very real risk of generational trauma.

If you’ve grown up in a narcissism disease cluster with one or more NPD parents, stepparents, and/or other family members, sadly narcissism is probably your normal. The familiar is a powerful force for most of us (even and especially unconsciously), and you may find yourself drawn by and to further narcissists, as friends, bosses, and romantic partners. The narcissist’s projection, gaslighting, and belittlement are all too familiar to you, and you’ve been groomed to take abuse and blame yourself for it in the process. If you were scapegoated by a domineering narcissist father, for example, chances are you will wear a kick-me sign on your back in future relationships until you learn to find a healthier new normal.

The Good News: Regardless of what you grew up with, narcissism is not normal. Unlike the narcissist, most people develop relatively stable selfhood, learn empathy, and possess a reasonable moral compass that guides them in their relationships. Growing up under the shadow of NPD by no means dooms you to develop the disorder, nor does it mean you must repeat its patterns. Educating yourself about the diseased roots and destructive patterns of NPD and becoming self-aware in your relationships are powerful steps to break its grip over your life.

Monkey See, Monkey Do!!!

Article ref:
9 Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder | Duke Health

Narcissistic personality disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

The Narcissism Disease Cluster in Families and How to End the Cycle – (narcissistfamilyfiles.com)

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Challenging negative thoughts by questioning their validity. Helping you live with more peace and less pain with RTT

Recognise the power of your thoughts: I will emphasise that our thoughts have a significant impact on our emotions, behaviour, and overall well-being. Individual need to understand that they have control over their thoughts and can actively work to change them.

Challenge negative thoughts: I advocate for challenging negative thoughts by questioning their validity and replacing them with positive affirmations. Negative thoughts are often distorted and not based on objective reality.

Use positive affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements that can help counteract negative thoughts. I will encourage individuals to repeat positive affirmations regularly, as this can rewire the brain and help create more positive thought patterns.

Focus on gratitude: Now, the importance of gratitude in shifting negative thinking. By focusing on what you are grateful for in your life, you can cultivate a more positive mindset and reduce the influence of negative thoughts. It’s important to have someone challenge your fix mindset and teach you strategies for developing an open mindset.

Practice self-acceptance and self-love: Even in 2023 I have push back on this practice, self-acceptance and self-love are essential for overcoming negative thoughts. By acknowledging your worth and embracing yourself, flaws and all, you can develop a more positive and compassionate mindset toward you and others. Note: If you have little to no love, forgiveness and acceptance for you, you will have very little to give to others. This may present as Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Jealousy, etc…you may display no empathy for others perhaps! On the flip side you may become highly agreeable, a people pleaser leaving no room or time for you.

Self-development starts with acknowledgment. Tip: You have two choices the pain of staying the same or the pain of change. That you resist will persist…

How were you parented? If you are struggling with your childhood, you may have been parented by parents who have their own story and mental health issues and as a result you feel physically and mentally unsettled:

A snapshot from where your parents may have come from in the mental health system:

How mental health was treated in the 80’s? It was in the 80’s when PTSD was recognised as a mental health diagnoses. Prior to this revelation people suffered terribly not only from the medical profession but also socially people were shamed and outcast.

There were no wellbeing hours in school; few conversations on what to do or who to reach out to if you are struggling; no lessons around depression, anxiety, or eating disorders without the suggestion of a stigma being present; no education on conditions or experiences such as psychosis or schizophrenia. There were few practitioners who knew a lot about mental health.

How mental health was treated in the 50’s

In the 50s, mental health was extremely stigmatised, and people with mental health problems were thought of as ‘defective’ and sent off to asylums. We actively tackle the problematic thinking around this today. I have a great deal of compassion for these people many live with terrible shame and guilt.

In the 50’s they had nowhere to turn in fear of being sent away from their family.

During the early 1950s, the treatment of mental health disorders consisted of inhumane and barbaric therapies. This includes lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy. A lobotomy is a surgical procedure where a metal instrument is inserted into the brain and a portion of the frontal lobe was either removed or manipulated. Lobotomies were utilised because it was believed that this type of procedure would cure people of visual and auditory hallucinations, which are symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis is commonly associated with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Whilst the following picture states “Toxic parenting” it is not my intention to blame anyone. If you are living with a mental health challenge, it is not easy. I would hope that the people around you show compassion and support and that you seek help from a practitioner who is a good fit for you.

Most people do not set out to hurt people.

What is Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)

It combines techniques from various disciplines such as Deep relaxation, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and Psychotherapy. RTT aims to bring about rapid and lasting change by identifying and addressing the root causes of issues, rather than just managing symptoms.

There is a degree of inner child work in this therapy due to sometimes the root cause could go back to your memory as a 6yr old for example.

Note to parents: Your children have a revision mirror, what will they be saying and feeling about their childhood as an adult?

The main principles of RTT include:

Uncovering the root cause: RTT seeks to uncover the underlying beliefs and experiences that contribute to current challenges or issues. By understanding and addressing the root cause, it aims to facilitate healing and transformation.

Utilising deep relaxation: Relaxation is a key component of RTT. It is a guided and focused relaxation, helping the mind to open and close mental folders gently. Individuals access their subconscious mind, where deeply ingrained beliefs and patterns are stored. Through guided relaxation and focused attention, we then can start on reprograming negative beliefs and replace them with positive and empowering ones.

Restructuring thought patterns: RTT focuses on changing thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve individuals. By identifying and reframing negative beliefs, RTT aims to create new neural pathways and thought patterns that support positive change.

Empowering language and affirmations: Language is an important aspect of RTT. It emphasises the use of positive and empowering language both during therapy sessions and in daily life. Affirmations are commonly used to reinforce positive beliefs and overcome negative self-talk.

Follow-up reinforcement: RTT recognises the importance of ongoing reinforcement and support after therapy sessions.

It’s important to note that while RTT has gained popularity and positive reviews from many individuals, it is always recommended to consult your doctor if you are thinking of self-harming. If you are in dark place mentally calling 000 immediately

Sometimes people need medication to settle enough in their body and mind to be able to take on therapy. Those patients who require medical intervention prior to entering therapy, should not feel ashamed or feel they are not enough. One thing I have learned over my many years of working with people, is the body really does keep the score and we are all very different. What happened to you in your life, is very different to what happened to another person in their life.

How does Trauma effect negative thinking?

Trauma can have a significant impact on negative thoughts. When someone experiences a traumatic event/events, it can disrupt their sense of safety, well-being, and trust in the world. This disruption often leads to various cognitive and emotional changes, including negative thoughts.

Trauma can affect your thoughts and actions, here are some areas to consider:

Negative beliefs about oneself: Trauma can lead to a distorted and negative self-perception. Individuals who have experienced trauma may develop beliefs such as being unworthy, powerless, or deserving of harm. These negative beliefs can manifest as self-critical thoughts and feelings of guilt or shame.

Negative beliefs about others: Trauma can also impact how individuals perceive and trust others. They may develop negative beliefs about people’s intentions, expecting others to be harmful, untrustworthy, or unreliable. These beliefs can contribute to negative thoughts about relationships and social interactions.

Note: This one is very common in relationships, past trauma can play a big part on how we see and react to our partners in times of stress and overwhelm…

eg: having children, you have not been a parent before. Trauma can also resurface after a death of a parent… Note: Because we are having children later in life, couples are finding themselves in a “sandwich” position, looking after children and parents at the same time. Life is a lot! But with a little knowledge and nurturing, all will be ok 🙂

Negative beliefs about the world: Traumatic events can shatter a person’s belief in the world as a safe and predictable place. They may develop negative beliefs about the world being dangerous, unfair, or unpredictable. These beliefs can lead to feelings of anxiety, hypervigilance, and pessimism. Note: A child being abandoned or perceived to be abandoned by a parent can set off this trauma and can last over a lifetime if not treated.

Intrusive thoughts and memories: Trauma can result in intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or vivid memories of the traumatic event. These intrusive thoughts can be distressing and contribute to negative thought patterns, as individuals may constantly relive the traumatic experience or feel overwhelmed by intrusive images, body sensations, or emotions associated with it.

Hyperarousal and negative thinking: Trauma can dysregulate the nervous system, leading to a state of hyperarousal or chronic stress. In this state, negative thinking can become more prevalent, as the mind is constantly scanning for threats and interpreting situations in a negative or catastrophic manner. Note: The body keeps the score, we need to learn to listen to our body sensations.

It’s important to note that the effects of trauma on negative thoughts can vary among individuals and depend on factors such as the nature of the trauma, personal resilience, and available support systems. Healing from trauma often involves a comprehensive approach that may include therapy, support groups, medication, self-care, and developing coping strategies to address negative thoughts and their impact.  Note: RTT is very effective for when addressing trauma

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Why first born rule the world and later born want to change it

DIPAC is a FAMILY 1st Practice

Birth order is a powerful influence on personality, because a family is the first group that a child belongs to. Finding their place is the key to gaining limited parental attention and resources. Like a constellation of stars that form their own patterns, children also form distinctive relationships within families, making it difficult to understand a child without knowing the whole family dynamic.

Families aren’t level playing fields. If you’re born first you received undivided parental attention, emotional and physical resources. Early in life, first-borns spend more of their time around adults than subsequent children. They’re more likely to be influenced by their parents than children born in any other position. They are born first and those children who follow had better stick to their playbook for the sake of family harmony.

Only children, who are now large enough in number to enter birth order mainstream are first-borns who have never experienced dethronement. They remain the sole focus of parent attention and resources.

The flip side of being first

The flip side for first-borns is that they can pay a high price for their position of privilege. They are frequently more intense, more anxiety-prone and more inflexible than any other birth order position. They are also ground breakers, introducing parents to every stage of development from infancy to adolescence. First-borns live with a pressure that is unfamiliar to later-born, so they frequently take fewer risks as learners to avoid the shame of making mistakes and disappointing their parents.

Seconds on the back foot

If you’re born second you’re instantly on the back foot. You probably get a left-over name and you have parents who share their time, energy and resources with another child. You also have to contend with an eldest sibling intent on keeping you in your place.

Second-born don’t experience the same degree of pressure as their eldest sibling and can easily slip under the radar of high parental expectation. Avoiding some of the pitfalls of perfectionism and anxiety that frequently afflict first-borns is a blessing for these free-spirited, flexible, justice-seekers. Though they may perceive themselves as victims of poor timing, second-born enjoy greater levels of resilience and wider friendships circles than their eldest siblings.

Remember the youngest

As for a third and most likely youngest child, there’s a good chance that most parents struggle recalling the finer details of their birth. They are in the fortunate position of having a sibling break their parents in for them and don’t experience nearly as much pressure as their eldest siblings. Youngest children soon learn that it’s hard to impress their parents, as they don’t become overawed with potty training, a toddler’s work of art or the transition from primary to secondary school. Their parents have seen it all before. Youngest children also receive less discipline and more freedom than their siblings, which probably explains why many youngest children believe that rules are for others, not them.

The Prince Harry effect

As families continue to shrink in size the nature of birth order is also changing. As well as the traditional first/only, second and youngest children there is a new birth order position – the second child who is also the youngest. While a second-born will never be referred to as the baby of the family like a third-born, they share many youngest children traits and tendencies such as extraversion, charm and risk-taking. Second child and youngest child traits are a potent mix for any agent of change, which is something Prince Harry is using to full effect.

In closing

Birth order knowledge provides parents with a rich vein of information about children. Now that families are shrinking and positions are being polarised, this window into kids motivations and personalities is easier than ever to assess and understand.

This is an edited extract from the book Why first borns rule the world and later borns want to change it. Editorial by Michael Grose

Understanding the courage and bravery of the everyday women…What you don’t see in the news.Understanding the courage and bravery of the everyday women…What you don’t see in the news

Every now and then I am surprised and delighted. When I write these newsletters, because I do not have a professional editor, I ask my husband to read them and to help me spot the spelling and grammatical errors. Two heads are better than one hopefully, whilst he picked up a couple of errors he did say ” Oh my goodness Darleen, I hope this is going out to men, a lot of men would have no idea about these things.” I love him so much!

When we were younger and in the busy lane, we did not get into too much of the detail either and we had few people to ask really due to feeling extremely judged, it was the 80’s 90’s don’t put your hand up someone will cut it off !

Although I am one, I thank God for the middle person today, the counselling professionals, who can help close the gaps for us in our learnings about self.

Dr Edward de Bono said “Start at the beginning with the end in mind” With this being said, this newsletter is to help mums and dads, husbands and wives understand the landscape of a female as she experiences changes over her life. #Empathy is a great word

Women are wonderfully made; they give life, preserve life, nurture… yet most of us have not stopped to think about what a woman’s body goes through over her life. Who is she? She is much more than a sexual being, she is a living miracle, who deserves to be respected and understood.

One of the challenges we have today is the amount of information and misinformation we have out there, it is difficult to know what is true.

The internet is a money-making machine, selling products, ideas the root being advertising…

Do you know young girls going through puberty and women going through menopause are prescribed anti-depressants after a 15-minute Gp appointment. They are not referred on to a counsellor, gynecologist an endocrinologist or any other investigative practitioner to help find the root?

Back in the day, seems like BC now, I was an educator on medications in “Big Pharma” and one of the things I learned was, Doctors would not entertain reading a medical case study, if it did not reach an end point. That means the medical trial detailed in the case study needs to meet all the requirements and has reached an end point. The outcome needed to be believable from a medical standpoint and there was a clear path forward for treatment of a patient with that particular medication “Efficacy.”

With this being said the internet sells many trial studies that do NOT reach the ethical standards required, but they sell a good story. Resulting in many people wondering around lost in the abyss and quagmire of the internet.

My view is sometimes we need to get back to basics and that is understanding the root of a patient’s presentation through “enquiry.”

Working from the Counselling Therapy seat my job is to help, understand, educate, support, then point patients in the right direction and refer on when needed.

​Where there are benefits and happiness on the internet, there is also so much pain and sadness as people search endlessly, particularly in the mental health and well-being space.

My challenge with term of “Mental Health” is most people align it with Anxiety & Depression “diagnoses done”…  I prefer to use the words “Mental Wellness” and looking for ways we can improve our mental wellness by looking deeper into the root of the surfacing presentation. Understanding the root is key to understanding the presenting problem as a whole and in part.

Good quality question asking is a skill and time is also needed in this space. A lot of GPs just do not have the time to do the enquiry needed to uncover what the root of the problem is.

Then of course many people are lining up for months to see a phycologist on “Mental Health Plans.”

Okay, let’s start to understand the journey of a women from puberty to menopause.  

Early menopause, also known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency, refers to the cessation of menstrual periods and the decline in ovarian function before the age of 40. While the exact causes of early menopause are not always clear, here are ten potential reasons for its occurrence in women:

Genetic factors: Certain genetic abnormalities can contribute to early menopause. For example, conditions such as Turner syndrome (also called Gonadal dysgenesis) and Fragile X syndrome (also call Martin Bell syndrome) are associated with an increased risk of premature ovarian insufficiency.

Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroiditis can affect ovarian function and lead to early menopause.

Chromosomal abnormalities: Structural or numerical abnormalities in the chromosomes can cause early menopause. For instance, women with a chromosomal defect called X chromosome abnormalities are more prone to premature ovarian insufficiency.

Family history: Women with a family history of early menopause are more likely to experience it themselves, indicating a potential genetic predisposition.

Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy used to treat cancer can damage the ovaries, leading to early menopause. The risk depends on the type and dosage of treatment.

Surgical removal of the ovaries: Surgical removal of both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy) for medical reasons, such as to treat ovarian cancer or reduce the risk of certain diseases, will induce menopause.

Pelvic radiation therapy: Radiation therapy directed at the pelvic area, often used to treat cancers like cervical or colorectal cancer, can cause ovarian damage and early menopause.

Chronic medical conditions: Certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism, have been linked to an increased risk of early menopause.

Smoking: Smoking has been associated with an increased likelihood of early menopause. It can accelerate the decline in ovarian function and deplete the ovarian reserve.

Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental toxins and chemicals, such as certain pesticides, may contribute to early menopause. However, further research is needed to establish definitive links.

It’s important to note that each woman’s situation is unique, and in many cases, the cause of early menopause remains unknown. If you have concerns about early menopause or irregular menstrual patterns, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation guidance and treatment.

I am very much a cheer leader of “Functional Medicine” this is a biological approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause.

“Where you have agency, you have responsibility.”

What happens to a girl’s body as she goes through puberty?

During puberty, a girl’s body undergoes numerous physical and hormonal changes as she transitions from childhood to adolescence and eventually reaches sexual maturity. Here are some key changes that occur in a girl’s body during puberty:

Breast development: One of the early signs of puberty is the development of breast tissue. The breasts grow in size and shape as the mammary glands and fatty tissue increase.

Growth spurt: Girls experience a rapid growth spurt during puberty, typically between ages 9 and 14. They grow taller, and their limbs and torso lengthen.

Body hair growth: Pubic hair starts to appear in the genital area and then spreads to the underarms. Additionally, fine vellus hair might become coarser and darker in various areas of the body, including the legs and arms.

Menstruation: The onset of menstruation, or the first menstrual period (menarche), marks a significant milestone in puberty. It usually occurs between the ages of 9 and 16 and signifies the beginning of a girl’s reproductive years.

Development of reproductive organs: The uterus, fallopian tubes, and vagina undergo growth and maturation during puberty in preparation for potential pregnancy.

Skin changes: Increased hormone production during puberty can affect the skin. Some girls may experience oilier skin, acne breakouts, and the development of sweat glands.

Body shape changes: Girls typically develop wider hips and a more defined waist as fat redistributes in the body. This contributes to a more curvy body shape.

Maturation of the reproductive system: The ovaries start releasing eggs in a monthly cycle (ovulation), and hormonal changes trigger the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Voice changes: The vocal cords thicken, causing the voice to become deeper. However, this change is not as prominent as in boys going through puberty.

Emotional and psychological changes: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, increased emotional sensitivity, and changes in behaviour during puberty. Girls may also experience heightened self-awareness and self-consciousness.

It’s important to remember that the onset and pace of puberty can vary among individuals. Puberty is a natural and gradual process that can last several years, and each person’s experience will be unique. At this time in a girl’s life, when her body takes on internal challenges, mental wars and physical changes, she will need support, she will need to learn about the importance of self–care and personal self-management. These messages will need to be delivered with great care, time and compassion because we are all different.

Tip: Your environment can play a big part in how you are feeling!

Do females inherit genes and other physical/mental characteristics from parents and grandparents?

A granddaughter carries her grandmother’s genes through a process called genetic inheritance. When a person is conceived, they receive genetic material from both their biological mother and father. Each parent contributes half of their genetic material to their child.

In the case of a granddaughter, she inherits half of her genetic material from her mother and half from her father. Her mother, in turn, inherited half of her genetic material from her own mother (the grandmother in question). Therefore, some of the genetic traits and characteristics present in the grandmother can be passed down to her granddaughter.

The inheritance of genetic traits occurs through genes, which are segments of DNA located on chromosomes. Genes are responsible for determining various physical and biological features, such as eye colour, hair texture, and height. They can also influence the risk of certain diseases or predispositions.

During the process of sexual reproduction, genetic information from the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm combines, resulting in a unique combination of genes in the offspring. This combination includes genes inherited from both maternal and paternal grandparents.

It’s important to note that the genetic inheritance is not limited to just the grandmother’s genes. The granddaughter also inherits genetic material from her other biological grandparents, both maternal and paternal. As a result, her genetic makeup is a combination of genetic contributions from multiple generations, including her grandmothers, grandfathers, and ancestors further back in her family tree.

Note: Genes do not only impact your characteristics & personality, but we also inherit what we Counselling Therapists and Phycologists call “Generational Trauma”

Hence, it is very important to know as much history about your family’s genetic makeup as possible, if possible. You do have agency over your body, therefore you have responsibility. I am very much all about helping you achieving a Quality of life QOL for YOU because we are all different.

Patience, compassion and understanding is so important: As young girls go through puberty, they may encounter various physical and mental challenges. Breast soreness: Breast development can be accompanied by tenderness or discomfort.

Note to dads: This may be a time when the rough tackling and general dad child play may need to become gentler with your approach.

Menstrual cramps: The onset of menstruation can bring about abdominal pain and cramping.

Acne: Hormonal changes may contribute to the development of acne or skin blemishes.

Body odour: Increased sweat production can lead to changes in body odour. This can be embarrassing please be mindful teasing is going to hurt and can cause ongoing negative systemic thought cycles. Tip: mums and dads educate brothers

Growth spurts: Rapid growth can cause temporary muscle and joint discomfort.

Weight gain: Hormonal fluctuations and changes in body composition can lead to weight gain.

Body image concerns: Girls may experience body image issues or dissatisfaction with their changing appearance. This is a very difficult conversation to have, the internet and bullying are two of a young girls most debilitating challenges to navigate in the 21st century.

Development of body hair: The growth of pubic hair and hair in other areas of the body can be distressing for some girls.

Development of curves: The development of wider hips and breasts can influence body proportions and impact self-perception. (The internet is not promoting curves as healthy)

Tip: Men & Dads you can play a big part here by showing acceptance by encouraging the women in your life to stay healthy.  (Skinny and sexy should not be promoted as wonderfully normal) Young women are being targeted through the porn industry by young males, the average age of a child being introduced to porn is 11yrs of age. I have noticed more young women are asking me “What is normal? What is a healthy sexual relationship?

NOTE: Mums and dads please be aware your young women are facing some pretty illicit behaviours out there in the big world. Help them to know what is right from wrong, teach them to self- correction, self –management and most importantly help them to understand personal agency, personal responsibility, boundaries and that NO means NO.

Skin changes: Skin may become oilier or experience changes in texture and complexion.

Girls will Experience Mental and Emotional Challenges: As a parent there will be moments which require you to be there for them.  The 3 “T’s” Time Tenderness and providing a shoulder for Tears.

Young girls are becoming young women during this time and they may not come to you.  Therefore your awareness of what could be going on for them will be important. If you notice some of these changes in your daughter, you can then change the way you interact with her by showing patience, kindness and compassion.

Mood swings: Hormonal fluctuations can cause mood swings and emotional instability.

Self-consciousness: Girls may become more self-aware and concerned about how they are perceived by others.

Peer pressure: Social pressures and the desire to fit in may increase during puberty.

Increased self-awareness: Girls may start to question their identity and place in the world.

Body image issues: Puberty can trigger body image concerns and comparison with peers.

Anxiety: Some girls may experience heightened anxiety or worry about various aspects of their lives.

Self-esteem issues: Changing bodies and societal expectations can impact self-esteem levels.

Emotional sensitivity: Girls may feel more emotionally sensitive or prone to experiencing intense emotions.

Dealing with stereotypes: Girls may face gender stereotypes or societal expectations that can affect their self-perception.

Cognitive changes: Puberty coincides with changes in cognitive abilities, including increased abstract thinking and self-reflection.

It’s important to note that not all girls will experience every challenge mentioned, and the intensity of these challenges can vary from person to person. Additionally, supportive environments, open communication, and access to appropriate healthcare can play a vital role in helping girls navigate through these challenges and promote their well-being.

What part does our brain and mind control during puberty and menopause?

During puberty and menopause, the brain plays a significant role in regulating and controlling various changes that occur in the body. Here’s an overview of how the brain influences the body during these two stages:

Puberty:

Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus, a region in the brain, releases hormones called gonadotropin-releasing hormones. The pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).

Pituitary gland: The pituitary gland stimulate the ovaries in girls. FSH helps with the development of eggs, while LH triggers the production of estrogen.

NOTE: Pituitary disorders can cause a range of symptoms. They can also be challenging to diagnose. They share these traits:

  • The pituitary gland may raise or lower one or more hormones.
  • A hormone imbalance can cause physical or mood changes. At the same time, pituitary disorders often develop slowly. It may take a long time until you notice symptoms.
  • Symptoms of pituitary disorders are similar to those of other diseases. Many people are misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed.

Common signs of something maybe off:

Common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Diabetes.
  • Hair loss.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Irregular menstrual periods.
  • Unexpected breast milk production.
  • Low energy or low sex drive.
  • Stunted growth or unusual growth spurts.

Ovaries: Estrogen is produced by the ovaries in response to stimulation. Estrogen plays a crucial role in breast development, the growth of pubic hair, and the development of the reproductive system.

Feedback loop: The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries communicate through a feedback loop. As estrogen levels rise, they provide feedback to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, influencing the release of GnRH, FSH, and LH.

Life happens between Puberty and Menopause: The wonderful women in our communities today are going through so much. Some are mentors and supporters for the women who are giving life and raising families. Some women are putting their bodies on the line in War and on the line when they go through IVF to give life or suffering trauma from giving life, during birth. There will also be a time in life when a woman loses her primary role model, being her mother or primary carer, changing her again into a different version of herself.  All the above is happening whilst navigating marriages, careers, friendships, wars, loss of loved ones and loss of self at times.

Understanding Menopause:

Hypothalamus and pituitary gland: During menopause, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland continue to play a role in hormonal regulation. However, changes occur in the feedback loop due to declining ovarian function.

Decline in hormone production: As a woman enters menopause, her ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone. This decline in hormone production triggers changes in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Irregular hormone function highs and lows

Hot flashes and other symptoms: Fluctuations in hormone levels during menopause can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are believed to be influenced by changes in the brain’s regulation of body temperature and neurotransmitter systems.

Hormone replacement therapy: In some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed to manage menopausal symptoms. HRT supplements the declining hormone levels and helps alleviate some of the associated changes. Note: There are many older studies around HRT which are very negative that are no longer true.

Throughout both puberty and menopause, the brain acts as the control centre, coordinating hormonal changes that impact various aspects of the body, including reproductive function, physical development, and the regulation of body temperature and emotions. The intricate interplay between the brain and hormonal systems is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being during these stages of life.

The benefits of a healthy brain so we have a healthy mind.

Having a healthy brain is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind and overall well-being. Here are some benefits of a healthy brain:

Cognitive function: A healthy brain supports optimal cognitive function, including memory, attention, learning, and problem-solving abilities. It allows for better focus and mental clarity.

Emotional well-being: A healthy brain helps regulate emotions, promoting emotional stability, resilience, and the ability to manage stress. It plays a role in mood regulation and can contribute to a positive outlook on life.

Mental health: A healthy brain is linked to better mental wellness outcomes, reducing the risk of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

Decision-making: A healthy brain enables better decision-making abilities, facilitating sound judgment, and reasoning skills. It supports the ability to weigh options, consider consequences, and make informed choices.

Creativity and problem-solving: A healthy brain fosters creativity and innovation. It allows for flexible thinking, problem-solving, and the generation of new ideas.

Adaptability and resilience: A healthy brain is more adaptable and resilient, enabling individuals to cope with and adjust to life’s challenges and changes effectively.

Physical health: The brain plays a vital role in maintaining physical health. It regulates bodily functions, including hormone production, immune system responses, and autonomic functions like breathing and heart rate.

Sleep quality: A healthy brain contributes to better sleep quality, facilitating restorative sleep patterns. Sufficient and restful sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, mood regulation, and overall health.

Longevity: A healthy brain is associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, promoting brain health and potentially extending cognitive function and quality of life in later years.

Relationships and social interactions: A healthy brain supports positive social interactions, empathy, and effective communication. It plays a role in understanding and connecting with others, fostering meaningful relationships.

Taking care of your brain health involves adopting a holistic approach, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, stress management, mental stimulation, social engagement, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Engaging in activities that challenge your brain, learning new skills, learning about you and maintaining an active social life, can also contribute to brain health and well-being.

NOTE TO SELF:  I am a woman, I am strong, I am resilient, I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I have gone through a lot, and I am still here! Congratulations well done to me and I WILL keep moving forward!

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Does your behaviour need to change now you are a parent?

As a Counselling Therapist who studies in Childhood trauma in Adults, I know how important it is to change and evolve as we move through life. As humans we are born to adapt and grow, as parents we need to first acknowledge our part in this process and how we were raised. If we have Trauma, Stresses, Emotional pain in our lives we could very well be passing this down to our children. Children are extremely sensitive, they are feelers from birth, if they feel unsafe, disconnected from a caregiver or abused they will stop living and start surviving Flight/ Flight. This state sets them up for adversity in life, you just may be that person yourself?

As early experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain, they also lay the foundations of sound mental health. Disruptions to this developmental process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others — with lifelong implications. By improving children’s environments of relationships and experiences early in life, society can address many costly problems, including incarceration, homelessness, and the failure to complete high school.

Significant mental health problems can and do occur in young children. Children can show clear characteristics of anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism, at a very early age. That said, young children respond to and process emotional experiences and traumatic events in ways that are very different from adults and older children. Consequently, diagnosis in early childhood can be much more difficult than it is in adults.

Experiences leave a chemical “signature” on the genes which determines whether and how the genes are expressed. Learn more

The interaction of genes and experience affects childhood mental health. Genes are not destiny. Our genes contain instructions that tell our bodies how to work, but the chemical “signature” of our environment can authorize or prevent those instructions from being carried out. The interaction between genetic predispositions and sustained, stress-inducing experiences early in life can lay an unstable foundation for mental health that endures well into the adult years.

Toxic stress can damage brain architecture and increase the likelihood that significant mental health problems will emerge either quickly or years later. Because of its enduring effects on brain development and other organ systems, toxic stress can impair school readiness, academic achievement, and both physical and mental health throughout the lifespan. Circumstances associated with family stress, such as persistent poverty, may elevate the risk of serious mental health problems. Young children who experience recurrent abuse or chronic neglect, domestic violence, or parental mental health or substance abuse problems are particularly vulnerable.

It’s never too late, but earlier is better. Some individuals demonstrate remarkable capacities to overcome the severe challenges of early, persistent maltreatment, trauma, and emotional harm, yet there are limits to the ability of young children to recover psychologically from adversity.

“Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”

What’s love got to do with it? The fantasy component to an open relationship… What are the risks?

This article is written by John Kim, LMFT a fellow Therapist from Psychology Today

First, an open relationship, also known as a non-exclusive relationship, is an intimate relationship that is sexually non-monogamous. The term may refer to polyamory, but generally indicates a relationship where there is a primary emotional and intimate relationship between two partners, who agree to at least the possibility of intimacy with other people.

A polyamorous relationship means having multiple romantic partners at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

In a nutshell, an open relationship means you still have one primary partner but both can have other sexual partners. Polyamory means you have multiple relationships that are both emotional as well as sexual. There is no primary. The terms both fall under the heading of “ethical nonmonogamy,” but they are not synonymous. You can combine them or do one without the other.

Okay now.

Second, I have not practiced either. I have only been in monogamous relationships my entire life. I guess you can say I am a serial monogamous, which is probably why this topic brings me instant anxiety.

I think people ask me if open relationships work often due to my profession, not because they think I have personal experience with it. They may want to know from a therapeutic perspective if this kind of relationship can work. Is it healthy? Is it sustainable?

But I cannot separate who I am from what I do. Well, I can but choose not to. So here’s a little primer before I get to my answer.

I grew up like you. Thinking you find your “one”, exchange vows, make babies, and live happily ever after. This person is your best friend and soulmate. Your forever and one and only. This is what love looks like and what everyone wants.

Then I grew up and got married. I was on the path presented in movies and novels. I got down on one knee, like you’re supposed to, at a mountain top somewhere in Oregon. The marriage lasted five years and we divorced. I’ve been in many relationships since then. Three years here. Three years there. All of them fulfilling in their own way with colourful love arcs that change people forever.

I’ve learned that relationships are built and require lots of hard work, but what of value in this life doesn’t? Also, you’re only fifty percent of any relationship so no matter how much you’ve learned about love or how far you’ve come, you can only control half of it. Finally, I’ve learned that our definitions and desires change as we change. Your definition of love and what you wanted in college is probably very different than your definitions and what you want today. And that’s a good thing. It means you’re alive.

That’s the thing about love and relationships. They are not dried cement. They are mouldable and adaptive. Wet. Always changing. It’s our upbringing, media, society, culture, and religion that convinces us the cement is dry and comes in a perfect square. For example, in Thailand boys hold hands and wear dresses. Sex is open and free. Ordering a sexual experience is as casual as ordering a cheeseburger with no pickles. That behaviour and energy can get people physically hurt in other countries. The world you grew up in (or live in now) directly impacts the blueprints you try to trace as an adult. We are not free thinkers. We all have been programmed to a certain extent. Even if we have changed and escaped our bubbles (both internally and externally), the residue of “shoulds” we grew up with still impacts us. This explains the anxiety that comes up when I think about open relationships.

Okay, so do they work? I would like to answer by taking you through my thought process, as a therapist who has heard thousands of relationship stories but also as a person with the brief love history I disclosed above. I feel like it would be the most honest way to answer this question.

Let’s start with the obvious.

I get to have sex with other people and still be in this relationship? Sure, sign me up! Wait, but she also gets to sleep with other people. Awww hell no.

Aubrey Marcus, who has publically gone from monogamy to open relationships to wherever he is now, said he literary threw up the day he found out his girlfriend slept with someone else after they decided to open their relationship. Yes, there will be feelings and the first one may obviously be jealousy and hurt.

My question is this: assuming you have opened your relationship, how many of these feelings would come from ego, control, insecurity, possession, and “shoulds?” When I think about it for me, almost all of it would. The idea of my girlfriend choosing to have a sexual experience with someone else makes me feel insecure, that I am not enough, and she will leave if she meets someone better. So if I was truly secure in self and this relationship, would I still have these feelings?

I don’t know.

Still, the feelings are real and both people would need to work through them honesty for an open relationship to work. Otherwise, anger and resentment can build and suddenly it can turn into a sexual slugfest, using other sexual experiences with others to get back at each other for having sexual experiences with others, which you both agreed to. I know it sounds crazy but people are people and I’ve seen versions of this where people agree to something and it backfires. For example — a threesome — a common fantasy that rarely matches the fantasy we play out in our heads.

There is definitely a fantasy component to an open relationship. The idea that you can connect sexually to someone outside of your relationship may sound like a lottery ticket, especially if you have been with the same person since college. Yes, it is completely natural and normal to desire and be attracted to other people. That doesn’t mean you want to build a relationship with them.

It can even be a possible solution to re-spark your relationship or prevent infidelity. Yes, being with someone else can make you closer to your partner. Many times we drift because we feed fantasies we play in our heads. Our natural curiosity of being with someone else forces us to stay in our heads instead of present in our relationships. If fantasy becomes reality, that bubble pops and we no longer have to carry that fantasy. We can be more present, and many times, appreciate our current relationship more by actually experiencing the grass and realizing it’s not greener. This is why many break up, explore, and then come back. And like travel, exotic locations can give you new and amazing experiences. But it can also make you appreciate your home; you start to miss your own bed.

For an open relationship to work, both parties must not only acceptance but encourage their partners to have new sexual experiences with others. Of course, you don’t need to know the details but you have to get to a place where you want your partner to explore their sexuality with others. You want them to have these experiences. For them. This is not something many people have the ability to give their partner. It requires a tremendous amount of trust in the relationship but also a trust in self that is greater than self.

If I look at this through a spiritual lens (not religious), love is infinite. And as humans, we are all connected and each connection is different and unique. These connections are what make us, break us, and make us again. That’s what life is ultimately about, the spectrum of our human connections and how that changes us. It doesn’t matter if that connection is friendship based, blood based, or sex-based. Connection is connection. Why should we limit ourselves? Why shouldn’t love also get to paint with colours? I believe we’re meant to meet who we’re meant to meet, and through that collision, both will be changed. That’s what makes life beautiful. Why should that be different with sex and love?

If I look at this through a biological lens, we are not designed to be with one person forever. That is a social/societal construct with a shame fence that keeps us from straying. Our bodies crave diversity. We are curious creatures. We have fantasies and imaginations. We are hardwired this way.

My conclusion with “the obvious.” Now, to the not-so-obvious.

Two people have to not only be on the same page but must truly be honest with themselves. They have to ask themselves if they have the ability, the inner capacity, to be completely okay with their partner having sex with others, to not just handle it but to not allow it to interfere with them loving their partner as much or even more with this new agreement. If you feel intimidated or less than because your partner experienced an orgasm with someone else, then you probably shouldn’t open your relationship.

I’ll tell you right now there’s no way I could do this in my twenties or even thirties. I didn’t have that kind of “capacity.” I didn’t have enough confidence or a sense of self for it to not destroy me on the inside. I would tally points, hold it against my partner, and bring a scoreboard into the bedroom. I also had very strict love blueprints. You give your all to one person and one person only. That’s it. Everything else is wrong and an excuse to cheat. But most importantly, I didn’t have a spiritual lens. And for me, that’s the only way I would be able to execute an open relationship. If I see it through a spiritual lens, as us being sexual beings and beauty in every connection. As spiritual beings. Not as people who default to possession.

You may wonder — if you have sexual experiences with others, wouldn’t you be creating space for an emotional connection as well? Wouldn’t you be jeopardizing your primary relationship? Basically, aren’t you playing Russian roulette with your primary relationship? We all know our emotions are stronger than our logic. So just because we logically say we will not allow ourselves to fall in love with someone else doesn’t mean we won’t. How can we prevent that since love is not logic-based?

One part of me says you can’t. You go in with intentions but no matter how strong they are, any kind of intimacy can lead to love. A simple kiss can draw you into thinking about that person for days, causing you to drift in your primary relationship. Those thoughts can turn into longing and real feelings. You may not be spending more time with your other relationship (non-primary) but where is your heart?

But another part of me says you can separate love and lust. It’s up to you to draw boundaries so your connections are kept sexual only. You can decide who you love and how you want to love them. As long as you are honest with yourself and your partner, you can keep this in check. Of course, this is not always simple and you have to decide if you can do this kind of heavy lifting. So the question is: do you have the ability to separate love from sex?

What if one person gets many partners and the other has few or none? That wouldn’t be a fair exchange.

That’s a real thing to consider if you choose to open your relationship. But I also worry that if that’s what you’re worried about, you are already positioning this to have a scoreboard. For an open relationship to work, it can’t be about how many partners your partner has compared to how many you have. Usually, open relationships are not about playing the field or how many people you can get into your rotation. It’s about being free to have other sexual experiences. And that’s an ebb and flow. Besides, who’s got that kind of time and energy? Hopefully not you or your partner.

Final Thoughts

People think open relationships are just about having the freedom to sleep with other people. So if that’s the case, why even be in a relationship? If that is your belief, opening your relationship will not work for you. Not a chance in hell. It will be the catalyst that breaks your relationship.

I believe for an open relationship to work, there has to be a foundation built first. Without this foundation, it will not work. Here are some suggestions for making an open relationship work.

  • Your relationship has to be solid. If you currently have problems in your relationships, opening it and allowing others in will not fix any problems. It will make them worse. Opening your relationship will allow you to run away from instead of look at what you need to fix in your relationship. An open relationship requires a tremendous amount of trust. If you don’t trust your partner, opening your relationship will only be a crowbar in your primary relationship. So you have to very clear on why you want to open your relationship. Is it to run away or toward yourself and or problems?
  • Both people must be completely honest with themselves. Do you truly want this for you or are you doing it for your partner? It can’t be a gift or a favour. That will only lead to resentment. That said, there are open relationships where one partner loses interest in having sexual relations outside his primary. And is completely okay with his partner continuing. But again, you have to be completely honest with yourself.
  • Lay some ground rules. Without rules, opening your relationship is a very slippy slope. What’s damaging is the dishonesty, not the actual act of having sex with others. Who can you see? Does your partner need to approve? How often can you see them? How much do you tell each other about who you see? These are all things that need to be discussed or people can start lying and that’s the most damaging part of any relationship. You can be in an open relationship yet still be “unfaithful” and experience the consequences of cheating if you are being dishonest and/or breaking the rules.

What I find the most interesting and exciting about all of this is the fact that we’re starting to have these conversations. The world is changing. We are starting to redefine what makes us happy. We are questioning old models. This is happening in every area of our lives, health, fitness, work, and now love and sex. But questioning old love models brings up a lot of resistance in people, myself included.

Marriage and monogamy have been tightly tied to religion and the foundation of who we are, what’s right and wrong, how we should live, all wrapped in a lot of firm “shoulds”. If this is questioned, our floor is pulled out from under us. Everything is then in question. So people quickly stamp this as wrong. You may have felt that while reading this article. It’s a form of protection.

I’m at a point in my life where I no longer want fear or my own resistance and insecurities to keep me trapped. I am curious about everything that’s possible in this world. I’m not sure if that’s because I have a baby coming and I want to wear fresh new lenses for her, one not tainted by my own story. Or because I’m getting older and I’m realizing how short life is. But I’m finally want to toss old blueprints still folded in my back pocket. And start pulling from curiosity and an unwillingness to know or put things in perfect boxes. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in the forty-six years I’ve been on this planet, no one really knows what’s best for you. Except you. And “you” is always changing. I am interested in dissolving ego and entering a spiritual plane that gives me new lenses to see the world and continues my evolution.

Do open relationships work? I don’t know. I haven’t given myself that experience. But I am open to the conversation, something I have never been before.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what kind of relationship you want and works for you. Monogamy, polygamy, open, or a combination of everything. It’s your life. It’s your heart. It’s your body. And know that you can change your mind and that’s okay. You just have to be honest with yourself and be prepared to reap the consequences of your actions good or bad and if you are a mum or dad the possible risks to your family unit. Is the decision to have sex with multiple partners worth the risk of losing your partner or breaking up your family?  What’s the most important thing — your relationship with you! As mentioned previously in this article if you desire multiple partners the question is still why would you enter into a marriage or a long-term monogamous relationship? You may like to look into your own self-management style….

What is your Attachments style? Are you having trouble communicating? There really is a lot to learn…

At what stage in a romantic relationship is it OK to evaluate the attachment style of your partner?

Knowing how you and a romantic partner form attachments can be beneficial in all stages of relationships, and especially in the beginning of a relationship. Think about it as interviewing somebody for probably the most important role of your life, so you want to be in touch with all the cues and listen to see if there is going to be good compatibility between the two of you.

Tip: Know what you stand for and don’t compromise on your strongest values

If you discover your romantic partner has an attachment style that you were not seeking or even trying to avoid, can you salvage the relationship or is it better to move on?

People who have anxious and avoidant attachment styles and get together does not mean they are not going to love each other; it does not mean they can’t have very happy moments together. But it also means there is going to be some incompatibility that they are going to have to deal with. That is a big part of what I do in my private. Note: Check in with your own value system. Ask yourself what do I believe in, hold dear and what do I stand for? You will always have challenges in a relationship if your internal set of rules do not align and there are major gaps.

What impact does the dominance of digital technology—social media, texting, and messenger apps—have on our attachment styles and romantic relationships?

Social media can be helpful in relationships because it is another tool of engaging or connecting or disconnecting. We feel safe through our connections with other people and through their availability. So, if we know how to use texting and social media in a way that helps the other person feel connected to us, we can use it to our advantage. It is less awkward than before when you would have to call someone on the phone and talk. Now, you can connect in a text very quickly and maintain that connection until the next time you see or talk with them. Note: Effective verbal F2F Communication is a fading skill so be very “mindful” no technology will or can replace effective verbal F2F communication. Effective verbal communication can lead to one of a human’s primary needs, which is physical touch, physical touch releases all the feel-good hormones. Whilst technology has its place in intimate relationships, just make sure its not the primary place.

TIP: Technology also has a way of jumping the cue for example if you were waiting in line to be served and the customer service person kept taking orders over the phone, how would you feel?

PUT DOWN your phone when you are with loved ones and be present or they will feel like they are not your priority, leading to resentment.

Secure Attachment Style

Those with a strong Secure Attachment Style manifest at least a number of the following traits on a regular basis:

  • Higher emotional intelligence. Capable of conveying emotions appropriately and constructively.
  • Capable of sending, and receiving healthy expressions of intimacy.
  • Capable of drawing healthy, appropriate, and reasonable boundaries when required.
  • Feel secure being alone as well as with a companion.
  • Tend to have a positive view of relationships and personal interactions.
  • More likely to handle interpersonal difficulties in stride. Discuss issues to solve problems, rather than to attack a person.
  • Resiliency in the face relational dissolution. Capable of grieving, learning, and moving on.

People with the Secure Attachment Style are not perfect. They too have ups and downs like everyone else, and can become upset if provoked. Having said this, their overall mature approach to relationships makes this the healthiest of the four adult attachment styles.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

Those with a strong Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style tend to manifest at least several of the following traits on a regular basis:

  • Inclined to feel more nervous and less secure about relationships in general, and romantic relationships in particular.
  • Inclined to have many stressors in relationships based on both real and imagined happenings. These stressors can manifest themselves through a variety of possible issues such as neediness, possessiveness, jealousy, control, mood swings, oversensitivity, obsessiveness, etc.
  • Reluctant to give people the benefit of the doubt, tendency for automatic negative thinking when interpreting others’ intentions, words, and actions.
  • Requires constant stroking of love and validation to feel secure and accepted. Responds negatively when not provided with regular positive reinforcement.
  • Drama oriented. Constantly working on (sometimes inventing) relationship issues in order to seek validation, reassurance, and acceptance. Some feel more comfortable with stormy relationships than calm and peaceful ones.
  • Dislike being without company. Struggle being by oneself.
  • History of emotionally turbulent relationships.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style

Those with a strong Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style tend to manifest at least several of the following traits on a regular basis:

  • Highly self-directed and self-sufficient. Independent behaviourally and emotionally.
  • Avoid true intimacy which makes one vulnerable, and may subject the Dismissive-Avoidant to emotional obligations.
  • Desire freedom physically and emotionally (“No one puts a collar on me.” Pushes away those who get too close (“I need room to breathe.”)
  • Other priorities in life often supersede a romantic relationship, such as work, social life, personal projects and passions, travel, fun, etc. In these situations, the partner is frequently excluded, or holds only a marginal presence.
  • Many have commitment issues. Some prefer to be single than to settle down. Even in committed relationships, they prize autonomy above much else.
  • May have many acquaintances, but few truly close relationships.
  • Some may be passive-aggressive and/or narcissistic.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style

Those with a strong Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style tend to manifest at least several of the following traits on a regular basis:

  • Often associated with highly challenging life experiences such as grief, abandonment, and abuse.
  • Desire but simultaneously resist intimacy. Much inner conflict.
  • Struggle with having confidence in and relying on others.
  • Fear annihilation, physically and/or emotionally in loving, intimate situations.
  • Similar to the Anxious-Preoccupied Style, suspicious of others’ intentions, words, and actions.
  • Similar to the Dismissive-Avoidant Style, pushes people away and have few genuinely close relationships.

As mentioned earlier, most people have various degrees of the four attachment styles, which may change over time.

Although those who are predominantly the Secure Attachment Style tend to make strong partners, it is also possible for those who are predominantly the other three styles to be in successful relationships. Self-awareness, mutual-support, mutual willingness to grow, and courage to seek professional help when needed are some of the crucial elements to positive relational development. The absence of these elements, however, may generate issues of incompatibility in relationship.

Select References

(1) Bartholomew, K., Horowitz, L.M. Attachment Styles Among Young Adults: a Test of a Four-Category Model. J Pers Soc Psychol. (1991)

(2) Pietromonaco P.R., Barrett L.F. Working Models of Attachment and Daily Social Interactions. J Pers Soc Psychol. (1997)

(3) Preston Ni M.S.B.A.