Our sense of self and our early experiences

Our early experiences strongly shape our sense of self.  They become hard-wired into our unconscious system and then are triggered easily at important moments in adulthood. Because they are so deeply ingrained in our cells they can influence us when we are drawing conclusions about the kind of person we are. Frequently they are concerned with laying down a blueprint as to how reliable or safe the world is, and to what extent others can be trusted. This influences the broad autobiographical narrative which tends to be established by our late teens, colouring our expectations about life and about people. We are balancing our experiences of attachment or closeness with our experiences of unreliability and disappointment. Early disappointment affects our  ability to trust or feel safe, or to fully give  ourselves in adult relationships. Consequently we often approach a relationship in the hope that it will be the one which will finally heal these early disappointments –  hoping to rewrite the relational blueprint which caused us problems as a child – or behave in a way that our negative expectations will be confirmed.  Sometimes the repair happens, but often we are looking outside for something which needs inner work to be fully achieved.

We are wired for attachment
in a world of impermanence.

How we negotiate that tension
shapes who we become.

Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.

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