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Attachments 7

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Attachments 7

       These teachings are becoming some of the most important in our history.  Don’t miss them.  We start tonight on page 56, in your Attachments book.  We are still working on the avoidant attachment style.

The Relationship Rules of the Avoidant Attachment

“People with an avoidant attachment style have two basic relationship rules.

The Other-Dimension Relationship Rule

First, regarding their other dimension, those with the avoidant attachment style assume, Other people are not reliable, dependable, or trustworthy when it comes to my needs.

The Self-Dimension Relationship Rule

Second, regarding their self dimension, those with avoidant attachment styles also assume, I must rely on myself alone in order to meet my needs.”[1]  This looks like the “John Wayne mentality,” i.e. “Stop whinning, suck it up, and get on with life!”

       “With these attachment rules, it only makes sense that the person with the avoidant attachment style becomes hardened.  If those near her can’t be trusted, why let anyone in?

       However, avoidant persons are typically not paranoid.”[2]  They don’t necessarily believe that people are out to hurt them or don’t love them.  They just know that people hurt them, inadvertently, for whatever reason.

       “…What’s amazing to us is how much inner strength some of these armored adults and children have.  We have worked with avoidant people who are very reliable, capable, and competent.  They can make good leaders because of their avid self-reliance and their ability not to be weighed down with emotion.

       Below the tough veneer, however, they are also empty, especially when they get hurt or disappointed. …And though they often deny painful emotions, they are prone to depression and even anxiety.”[3]

This is exactly how I was, before I was 30 years old.  I was depressed and didn’t even know it, because I never paid any significant attention to my emotions.  It was a shock to me, when I found out that I actually had emotions all of the time that I was claiming emotional objectivity.

(All right, back to the book!)

“More frequently, they (i.e. those with the avoidant attachment style) turn to an alternate substance—anything to replace the other person, anything that creates the illusion of intimacy, warmth, or love.  We believe, and research suggests, that the genesis of addiction lies within this pattern of relationships.  …Even positive addictions and rituals—like studies, sports, and religious activities—can create a false sense of closeness in which habits and things replace our need for relationship.”[4]

(I am now on page 60.)

The Adult Attachment Interview

“In our clinical work we utilize part of the “adult attachment interview” first developed by attachment researcher Mary Main.  We have adapted portions of this technique that evolved out of the research performed by Main and her colleagues, which found that it is not so much what people say or the content of their stories about their childhoods as much as it is about how they talk about it or the process they use to convey the story.  Main and her colleagues identifed some basic principles of coherence and some specific ways that each insecure attachment styles violate these principles.

       For example, when avoidant people describe their parents they tend to overidealize them, using words like wonderful, great, warm, loving, kind, etc., but they are unable to recall specific incidents where their parents behaved this way.  This failure is an indication of an insecure attachment style.  It’s indicative of a person who wants to believe everything was great but has no specific experiences to back up that belief.”[5]  I have noticed the same thing in many hours of counseling.  This is tip-off when you are trying to figure out if you or someone else has an avoidant attachment style.


Insensitive Parenting:

The Pathway to Avoidant Attachment

“Research has identified specific pathways to avoidant attachment style.  Insensitive parenting is the one behavior that most consistently leads to secure attachment, and dismissive parenting, rejection, and intrusive parenting are distinct forms of that insensitivity.”[6]

       Now there are two things I want to say about that.  First of all, no parent needs to take total responsibility for how their child or children turn out.

       Secondly, we ought to realize and take responsibility for the parenting style that we used in raising our children and apologize for that.  You are not apologizing for the intent, but for the impact!  I did that a long time ago with my children.

What Does It Mean to Be Sensitive?

…Sensitive parents, especially parents of infants, adjust their behavior to help the little ones remain calm, or if the babies are agitated, sensitive parents help them become calm as quickly as possible.”[7]

       Children communicate their needs by crying, and sensitive parents respond to those cries by helping their children become calm again.  They don’t do this angrily or resentfully.  This kind of caregiving is called contigent responding.[8]

       “And when infants are cared for responsively and tenderly, they develop relationship rules, such as, My emotional needs are important, and I can count on others to help me in times of trouble.  Paradoxically, instead of becoming self-centered, as one might expect, this foundation seems to equip a maturing child with empathy, the ability to more fully see and respond to the needs of others.”[9]  Daniel Goleman cites the same thing in his work and book on Emotional Intelligence.  “Interestingly, in Ainsworth’s study infants whos mothers were sensitive to their needs within their early months were more likely to be securely attached at the child’s first birthday.  These children cried less and developed other forms of communication, such as facial expressions and various physical and vocal gestures, to catch their mothers’ attention.

       In fact, Mary Ainsworth concluded that ‘an infant whose mother’s responsiveness helps him to achieve his ends develops confidence in his own ability to control what happens to him.”[10]

       This does not mean that the authors are totally against structure in the early stages of a child’s development.  They state, “We are pro structure, but we are more sensitively based, especially in the first two years of childhood.  The fact is that sensitive parenting creates a foundation; it literally shapes the brain structure that leads to better-behaved kids who can care more deeply about others.”[11]

Dismissive Parenting

“Dismissive parenting is a form of insensitivity that primarily involves dismissing the child’s emotions, especially negative ones.  …The dimissive parent acts as if the childs feelings are unimportant.”[12]  You have heard this, “Awe…what are your crying about!”

Rejection

“Rejection is a much stronger type of insensitivity than dismissiveness and brings an almost complete disengagement from the child.  These parents aren’t just cold.  Rejecting parents are emotionally disengaged from their infant children, sometimes mocking, even ridiculing them.”[13]

Intrusive Parenting

“Intrusive parenting provides too much of a good thing.  Infants and children need to be held, hugged, and talked to in comforting tones.  But intrusive parents overdo it.  They fail to read the child’s subtle, nonverbal cues that say, Okay Mom, I feel better now.  I want to play.  The intrusive parent may dismiss or ‘guilt-trip’ these requests to be left alone, saying for example, ‘You really don’t want to push Mommy away, do you, dear?’”[14]


Three Shades of Avoidance

“…Usually those with avoidant attachment come in one of three shades:  narcissitic, exiled, or compulsive perfectionist.

The Narcissist or Inflated False Self

Narcissism is a state of excessive, inflated self-love.  This sense of self-love is considered a false self, because below the layer of superiority festers a deeply rooted sense of worthlessness.  …Typically this person

·        seeks excessive praise from others

·        tends to be arrogant and condescending and portrays an inflated sense of self-worth

·        fantasizes about fame, fortune, and power

·        is very sensitive to criticism and can respond with intense anger

·        takes an ‘I’m-first-and-everyone-else-comes-later’ attitude.

·        manipulates others to achieve his or her own ends

·        envies other’s success

·        associates with ‘special’ people and engages in lots of name-dropping

·        shows poor empathy for others

·        is externally focused, with a ‘you-are-what-you-have’ attitude.”[15]

The Exiled, or Disconnected, Self

“Unlike the narcissist, whose ego feeds off the praise of others, the exiled or disconnected person is robed in self-sufficiency.  The following are some of the other common characteristices seen by those with avoidant attachment styles whose selves are in exile:

Extreme introversion.

Self-sufficiency.

A sense of superiority.

Emotional desert.

Loneliness (that may never be admitted).[16]

The Compulsive Perfectionist

·        pays excessive attention to details, order, and organization

·        controls others, frequently using guilt

·        demands that self and others submit to rigid, moralistic rules with lots of do’s and don’ts

·        has difficulty sharing; viewed by others as stingy of time, money, and resources

·        is uncomfortable with emotions; very constricted

·        is uncomfortable with physical touch

·        has difficulty displaying afffection toward others

·        tends to procrastinate because of such high standards for performance.

·        Is reluctant to delegate tasks because others are viewed as incompetent.”[17]

Please notice the impact upon this person’s leadership!

Disturbing Tendencies

“Because of the way persons with avoidant attachment style see themselves and their relationship to others, they tend to be the most likely of the identified attachment styles to develop two especially disturbing tendencies:  addictive behavior and/or an angry resentment of God.

Addictive Behavior

We already covered this in chapter 3.  “The focus of this self-feeding process can include such behaviors as excessive fantasy life, Internet addictions, eating disorders, compulsive masturbation, substance abuse, shopping sprees, and compulsive thrill seeking (driving fast and other types of high-risk behaviors).

Angry Resentment toward God

“This resentment, referred to by Gary Habermas as volitional doubt, involves turning away from God and pursuing sinful habits.  Volitional doubt is driven by feelings of resentment, a belief that God is not really there for me; I’ve prayed and prayed, yet he never comes through.  I don’t need Him; I just need me.  In a similar vein, many of the atheists we have met are notably avoidant in their attachment style.  They rely on no one, including God.

       Many avoidants have dampened their desire to learn about God.  They have stopped seeking Him, stopped praying, and given up on the church community.  For avoidants, God’s purpose is seen as merely making sure nothing goes wrong in their lives.  So when things go wrong in their lives, they blame God.  They say to themselves, See?  God doesn’t care about me.  This just proves He is not involved in my life.  I’m definitely not turning toward Him.  He lets you down, just like everyone else in the world.

       This mind-set only perpetuates the avoidant’s distancing and isolation.  First, it assumes that God’s purpose is to make sure we don’t run into trouble.  Second, it downplays God’s role in providing comfort during times of trouble.

       Often the avoidant’s life is so pressed and stressed it’s easy just to push on without ever coming to a place of honesty.”[18]

Relief From Relational Poverty

       If the characteristics of this first attachment style didn’t sound familiar to you, just hang on!  We’ll be examining the other styles.

       If you cringed like I did, at some of the descriptions, don’t despair.  When we get through with the descriptions, we’ll show you how to break free from destructive tendencies, overcome the background forces that shaped your attachment style, and begin to restore and revitalize your attachments to those you hold dearest.[19]

Homework:    Attachments (pages 75-84).

Let’s pray what David prayed in

Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB-U), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; [24] And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

·        Search me and know my “emotion-fused thought!”

·        Examine me and know my anxious thoughts!

·        Point out anything that is hurtful to You!

·        Point out anything that is hurtful to others!

·        Lead me along the path of everlasting life!


(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, Now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 56.

[2] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 56.

[3] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp 56-58.

[4] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 58.

[5] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 60.

[6] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 64.

[7] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 64.

[8] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 64.

[9] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 64.

[10] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp 64-65.

[11] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 65.

[12] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 65-66.

[13] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 66.

[14] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 66.

[15] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 68.

[16] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 69-70.

[17] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 71.

[18] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 73.

[19] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 73.

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