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Attachments 2

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Attachments 2

1

The Heart of the Matter

Attachments in Everyday Living

How Attachment Injuries Occur

       Clinton and Sibcy believe that the fundamental issue in helping people recover from relationship injuries “hinges on the same fundamental issue—the way they perceive the answers to these questions:

·        Are you there for me?

·        Can I count on you?

·        Do you really care about me?

·        Am I worthy of your love and protection?

·        What do I have to do to get your attention, your affection, your heart?”[1]

“These are questions of attachment.  When they cannot be answered positively, your psychological, relational, and even spiritual foundations can be shaken.”[2]

       “Relationships define the quality of our lives.”[3]  Oversimplifying the point, if our relationships are safe and secure, we will generally be happy and fulfilled; if our relationships are full of strife and mistrust, we will generally be sad, confused, and in pain.[4]  “Attachment is an overarching system that explains the principles, the rules, and the emotions of relationships—how they work and how they don’t, how we feel when we’re with the ones we love the most.”[5]


Attachment Styles:  How the Relationship Rules Work

       We love, feel, and act the way we do because of the “relationship rules” that are at work in all of us.  “We call these rules our attachment style.”[6]  It’s important that we understand what an attachment style is, how it is formulated during the early years of life, how it helped us survive emotionally, and even physically, in those early years and how it continues to shape key elements in our lives, the four primary attachment styles, the impact of these styles, how to reshape the relationship rules into a positive influence, and the spiritual implications of the attachment styles and explain how they relate to God and you.[7]

2

Shaping Our View of Ourselves

And Those We Hold Dearest

Attachment Principles and Dynamics

       Anyone who has belonged to this church more than a year has heard me talk about and give enough information to at least consider my premise that how we view ourselves and interact with others is intimately related to our earliest relationship experiences.  This is corroborated in attachment theory.

The Attachment Behavioral System

       “In an effort to explain what he’d seen in many children, Bowlby developed what he called the attachment behavioral system.”[8]  Because I don’t have permission from the authors to reproduce the system, I am going to have to verbally explain it to you.


The system begins with the question, “Is the attachment figure sufficiently near, responsive, and attuned?”[9]  If the answer is, “Yes,” then the child feels security, love, self-confidence, which is demonstrated by the child being playful, smiling, exploring, sociable, showing a basis sense of trust of self and others.[10]  “From about the sixth month of life, children begin asking some critical questions:  ‘Is my mom close-by?  Is she available to me?  Can I get to her quickly if I need her?  Will she be there for me if I need her?  Will she comfort me?’  These questions reflect what we call the proximity principle.  It works much like a thermostat.  You set your thermostat at home to a ‘set point,’ say seventy-two degrees, and when the temperature goes too far below this point, the furnace comes on until the temperature returns to the set point.  Then it shuts off.

       Likewise, proximity, or closeness, is the set point for the attachment behavioral system.  If a child believes Mom is close enough, the child feels safe and secure.  With this security, she is willing to enthusiastically explore the world around her.”[11]

(All right, back “The Attachment Behavioral System.”)

       If the answer to the question, “Is the attachment figure sufficiently near, responsive, and attuned?”[12] is, “No,” the child will experience fear and anxiety.  These feelings will precipitate “the child using attachment-seeking behaviors:  visual checking, signaling a need for contact, pleading, clinging, etc.”[13]  “If a child believes Mom is not close enough, the attachment behavioral system turns on.  Attachment behavior is any behavior that results in getting mother and child physically closer.  Usually in infants this behavior is crying, crawling, or screaming.  Once Mom has returned to a safe distance, the child feels secure again, the attachment system turns off, and the child begins to explore and play.”[14]


       “Older children don’t necessarily have to see their parents to feel secure.”[15]  If the child and the relationship mature in a healthy manner, the child become more secure over time.  “It’s fascinating that children do not have to learn this behavior.  It’s just there.  Thankfully, God programmed it into us from birth to somehow know that when our caregivers are not nearby, danger lurks.  This illustrates a crucial point in our discussion:  Fear of abandonment is the fundamental human fear.  It is so basic and so profound that it emerges even before we develop a language to describe it.  It is so powerful that it activates our body’s autonomic nervous system, causing our hearts to race, our breathing to become shallow and rapid, our stomachs to quiver, and our hands to shake.  We feel a sense of panic that will not be assuaged until we are close to our caregivers—until we regain a feeling of security.

       This attachment system is not just part of human behavior; it’s evident throughout the animal kingdom….  Seeking closeness during times of stress is a survival mechanism, both in other animals and in humans.”[16]

       Now, “if parents repeatedly fail to respond to their child’s attachment behavior…, the child develops a pattern of defensive behavior.”[17]  There are two patterns of defensive behavior.  “Avoidance is one defense.”[18]  The “child avoidant, watchful, wary, showing a basis distrust of others.”[19]  This avoidance is often exhibited in detachment.  “These children decide, I don’t need you, and I don’t want you.  They become islands unto themselves, isolated from their own feelings as well as the feelings of others.  They replace their need for others with the desire for things.  They live on the periphery of relationships and see others as means to an end (material goods) rather than as ends in themselves.”[20]


       The other defense is ambivalence.[21]  The “child is ambivalent, alternately angry and clinging, showing a basic distruct of self.”[22]  “It occurs when the child desperately clings to the parents and yet wants to punish them for having left him/her.  These children will not let their parents out of their sight.  They throw frequent temper tantrums and are quite uncooperative and defiant.  Interestingly, when doctors and nurses heard that these children behaved this way, they blamed it on poor parenting.  They had no inkling that the separation had anything to do with the child’s anger and anxiety.”[23]

Attachment Styles:  How We Develop Our Core Beliefs

“It is easy to observe the attachment behavioral system at work in the first few years of a child’s life.  Over time, the many interactions between a mother and her infant become internalized by the child and form what Bowlby called the internal working model, or relationship rules.  We simply call this system an attachment style.  It’s a mental model, a set of basic assumptions, or core beliefs, about yourself and others.”[24]  Frank Thomas believes that “Contained within the intuitive is the collection of core belief, i.e. broad principles for living shaped by cognitive, emotive, and intuitive evaluation of life and experience.”[25]

       Thomas believes that “human awareness involves three aspects of self:  the cognitive, the emotive, and the intuitive.

·        The cognitive is the faculty for reason and rational thought.”[26]

This faculty seems to be the most developed and most important faculty to people in the western world, particularly the United States.  I have stated this and talked about it many times, in many ways.


The second aspect of self, with respect to human awareness, is the emotive.

·        “The emotive is the base for the arousal of feelings and affections.”[27]

This seems to be one of the least developed faculties of people of the western world, particularly the United States.  It seems that most Americans are afraid of their emotions and don’t want to deal with them.  This is totally opposite of the Near East mind-set, which is the mind-set of the Bible.  The Bible is written from a Hebrew mind-set, not an intellectual or Greek mind-set.  The Hebrew mind-set deals with people from the perspective of the heart and experience, which is a much more holistic mind-set.

The third aspect of self, with respect to human awareness, is the intuitive.

·        “The intuitive is the capacity for direct knowing or learning beyond the conscious use of reason.”[28]

This is a human faculty that people from the western world, particularly the United States, hardly seem to be aware of.  Those of us who have studied the nature of God, know that God’s knowledge is intuitive, i.e. God knows all things without the use of conscious reasoning.  But we seem to be unaware of or negligent of the fact that God can speak directly to our intuition, which is a faculty of our spirits or the heart of our hearts, through the Holy Spirit, Who indwells us.  A large portion of Bible and spiritual knowledge is revealed directly to our intuition through the Holy Spirit.

   Paul says in

1 Corinthians 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

The things of the Spirit of God are discerned through one’s spirit and the Holy Spirit.

A person’s core belief entail principles for living like hope, trust, love, forgiveness, fear, hatred, prejudice, unforgiveness, etc.  Principles of one’s core belief are much more than intellectual constructs.  To further understand this, let’s deal with the principle of faith.  “Faith, for example, does not reside in the cognitive, or emotive, but in the intuitive aspects of human personality.”[29]

Thomas says that

“Faith is born in a ‘reasonable encounter,’ within an emotive context, then moves to reside as a principle in the intuitive, informing core belief.”[30]

       These intuitive principles of one’s core belief act as tapes that play automatically in difficult situations.  Henry H. Mitchell, author of Black Preaching:  The Recovery of a Powerful Art, visualizes these intuitive principles and responses as ‘tapes’ that record life and experience:

“Our intuitive responses to various experiences are like tapes played deep down in consciousness.  If in early life we formed a habit of believing that the planet was safe, and God was caring for us, that amounts to a tape.  In a crisis, we tend to ‘play’ it again and live by that same habit of trust.  If a child was mistreated or poorly cared for, that child will have emotional habits or tapes of fear and distrust.”[31]

We probably need to update the metaphor to CD’s, DVD’s, or hard drives!

(Now, we want to talk about the core beliefs that are involved in attachment styles.)

       “The first set of core beliefs, or relationship rules, form the self dimension.  It centers around two critical questions:

1.     Am I worthy of being loved?

2.     Am I competent to get the love I need?

       The second set of beliefs form the other dimension.  It also centers around two important questions:

1.     Are others reliable and trustworthy?

2.     Are others accessible and willing to respond to me when I need them to be?


       Based upon your responses to each set of questions above, your sense of self is either positive or negative.  Likewise, your sense of others is also either positive or negative.  By combining the four possible combinations of self and other dimensions, a four-category grid …emerges.”[32]  We will cover that in a moment.

       “These combined beliefs about your self and your other dimensions shape your expectations about future relationships.  They act as a pair of glasses that color the way you see others, and they inform you about how to behave in close relationships.  In other words, they determine your attachment style.”[33]  The four styles are briefly outlined in the following grid.

 Secure Attachment StylePositive Self/Positive Other   Avoidant Attachment StylePositive Self/Negative Other
 Ambivalent Attachment StyleNegative Self/Positive Other   Disorganized Attachment StyleNegative Self/Negative Other[34]

Thank God that we can earn a secure attachment style in Jesus Christ!!!

Homework:    Attachments (pages 25-33).

(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. 12.

[2] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 12.

[3] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 12.

[4] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 12.

[5] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 12.

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

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

[8] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[9] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[10] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[11] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 21.

[12] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[13] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[14] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 21.

[15] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 21.

[16] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 21-22.

[17] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 22.

[18] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 22.

[19] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[20] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp 22-23.

[21] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 22.

[22] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 20.

[23] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 22.

[24] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 23.

[25] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, p. 9.

[26] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, pp. 8-9.

[27] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, pp. 8-9.

[28] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, pp. 8-9.

[29] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, p. 9.

[30] Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, p. 9.

[31] Henry H. Mitchell, Black Preaching:  The Recovery of a Powerful Art (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990), 39.

[32] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 23.

[33] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 23-24.

[34] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 24.

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