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Have you ever wondered why you relate with people the way you do, could there be other explanations to it, beyond personality traits. Some people say ‘well, that’s just me’ or that’s the way God made me, I can’t help being me…
As much as God did make us individually unique in many ways, He actually intended for us to foster healthy and vibrant relationships with one another, it is proven that humans thrive on healthy relationships, in the words of Dr. Caroline Leaf ‘we are wired for love’ meaning the natural state of a human is to be surrounded by healthy relationships.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the ability to maintain, keep and foster healthy relationships starts its journey in our childhood. In many ways, it is safe to say the way we learnt to relate as a child is most probably but not without exceptions the way we still relate as adults.
If parents or primary caregivers were unable to provide a child with a continuous secure and loving environment the child quickly learns other ways to survive. Significant negative events or happenings around childhood could also taint a child’s ability to relate. Mothers who experienced post-natal depression would have been unable to provide the child with the care and nurture sufficient to create a bond and healthy attachments.
Children born into abusive relationships quickly learn other destructive ways to survive. Children handed over to alternative care might not be able to foster a healthy relationship without feelings of emptiness, insecurity, and rejection.
As humans grow up, the unhelpful childhood patterns of relating learnt if not challenged in an environment of secure love and nurture would automatically become the unconscious way of relating, behaving and thinking like an adult. In the counseling world we sometimes call this ‘Learned Behaviors’ meaning we learn to relate the way we do by our life experiences.
Most humans unconsciously fall into habits and patterns of survival (defense mechanisms) which were most likely relied on for safety as children. It shows up in the attitudes, the sharp uncaring responses in relationships, family gatherings, groups, at work, in teams, the way we react when spoken too, our subtle ways of thinking, the suspicions, the resolves. Or in the over-caring attitudes, the neediness, the people-pleasing behaviors’…… mostly humans dress up attitudes with clothes and excuses… Are you overly sensitive or never trusting in your relationships, what’s that attitude you have in relationships that always shows up with no effort, could it be a ‘learned behavior’, due to past experiences?
Does any of this sound familiar or can you relate to it? Do you want to do something about it? You could seek counseling with a trained professional where you can explore the past in a safe nonjudgmental way and be empowered to foster more fulfilling relationships. What’s more, you could even get Christian counseling if that is your preference. Check out the Association of Christian Counsellors, http://www.acc-uk.org.
With all that said and done, I have found that faith in Jesus is the greatest treasure and relationship I have ever had……… He just seems to get me, when all other relationships fail….and helps me see humanity through the eyes of love. Isaiah 61; 1-2 He opened the prison doors, so all captives are set free…… whenever I find myself stuck in the prison of my childhood I remember what He has done for me (Dying to set me free, from all the consequences of a fallen world) I embrace his love for me. I find healing there.
I understand that my childhood experiences were not my fault and neither my parents/caregivers fault, it’s just what happens in a fallen world, never forget that…. This reality starts the journey of healing….
As a music lover, I also listen to inspiring songs that help me accept and understand that my childhood was not my fault and I do not feel guilty or have a pity party anymore. Songs like ‘Dear Younger Me’ by Mercy Me and ‘Who you say I am’ by Hillsong…..these songs echo sounds of healing, freedom, acceptance, fatherhood, belonging, grace….. Check them out