Attachment Theory as I understand it: Part 1

Am I Attached?

Journal excerpt 20.04.17: slightly edited for continuity

Good Morning! (I start every morning journal with these two words)

How much influence does pop culture have over your life?  It has taken me 5+ years of reading, learning, understanding and other things to get to a place where I can even begin to ask myself the right questions about myself and my surroundings.  My world and my narrative are built out of a combination of my own mind coupled with the physical reality around me.  This all being heavily influenced from birth and how my caregivers raised and taught me how to deal with the physical world outside myself.  How to cope with the mental and physical stresses of life as well as the joys and love of life. 

This dialog is something we get ingrained before we are able to verbalize it. It continues to grow and get deeper embedded as we are able to put that conscious thought to words.  If you think it is a fable or an old wives tale…  Something we have learned very early on over and over and over until we were able to internalize it to the point that it was second nature, we may or may not because it is true. I guess this is the point where the major fork in the road comes for me and for most.  This is the point where my reality begins to set in.  The point where I question the very fiber of my existence.  I know my life is real but reality seems to be a relative term.  How real is reality and how much of it is based on something our great great grandmother told her daughter and it just unobstructedly made its way *across generations* landing on your lap today, right now, and you believe it wholeheartedly because of its course of origin.  Let’s take it one level deeper than that. 

Religion

I’m not here to bash religion but let’s just look at the average everyday Christian.  How much of who they are is based on their interpretation of stories in a book handed off from generation to generation over thousands of years?  Taught on a more frequent basis and at one point or another used for the purpose of exiling and killing those who did not comply.  The reason I say this is not because this is the God bashing hour, it’s because I do have faith in a higher power but I do not think my faith follows the path of the Bible or the Qurann or any other spiritual book.  We don’t even need God to create this kind of power over us.  Our grandmothers from generations back could manifest it just as easily. Tell us that if you just put 1 scoop of sawdust into your gravy mix it will give it the perfect texture and it will clean out the digestive track.  Sound silly?  Go back and think about some of the ridiculous things our parents have told us were true only to find out years later that they were completely made up. 

What about television?

As I said before it has been a couple years for me detoxing from TV and instead filling the space with books and podcasts and working on building my future where I can step back from being a worker and instead be a manager.  TV avoidance has been the best diet I have ever taken part in.  It has led me to this point where I can ask the right questions.  How much TV and Radio do you believe?  Is your current reality derived from some sort of media?  Do you love only a cowboy with a pickup truck who you met one sommer while fishing on the lake with your family?… was it a fairy tale…?  Do you still love them even after the fairy tale ends?  Do you only have KitchenAid appliances in your home because the 3 shows you watch on the food network use them exclusively?  Do you drink or eat a certain food because it is endorsed by your crowd of friends who in turn endorse it because you all relate to an old tv series where they lived and died by this one meal?  Im not here to judge you one way or another.  If anything I am striving to be as nonjudgmental as possible.  I just want to ask the question, as a friend.  I also want to ask myself if my life has been a lie based on everything around me that has influenced my decisions.  Have I been living in a fantasy world because of media influence leading me to choices which lead me to circles of people which lead me to lifestyles? Am I that different than everyone else?

The Matrix

With a bit of luck I can say I have unplugged from the matrix a bit and forced fed my life, for better or worse, with what I believe to be more grounded and somewhat factual information.  If nothing else I feel I have guided my mind to a place where I can actually and subjectively make sense of all of it.  The funny part is as I think back to growing up I questioned a lot of things .  As I got older I accepted a lot of things I normally questioned before.  I still question things just not as aggressively…but with more compassion and patience.. with a deeper yearning for truth. Now at this point I question and independently (influenced nonetheless) decide what makes sense and what doesn’t.  What is at my core being and what is not.  where my moral compass is pointed and more importantly how I get to a point of true equilibrium with myself.  To not doubt myself but rather trust me completely and wholeheartedly.  To not criticize me and in turn not criticize those brothers and sisters (no matter how annoying they may be sometimes) around me.  To break the dream world of false influence apart and at the same time to break the reality of false pretense apart.  To understand that as fucked up as I feel, I am sometimes only slightly, adjunctly, one step off of everyone else.  That we all live in some sort of fantasy world.  We all believe something completely ridiculous.  We all have let the outside world of TV and media influence our reality and scarily enough our core at some level.

How does this all contribute to Attachment Theory?

Let me just point this out that if you feel something in your life is off balance and you feel that you act a certain way that is not congruent with your emotions there is probably something way deeper that you have not explored.  In Resilience training, we call these ICEBERGS.  Just a simple representation of feelings, without going into massive discussions of the cerebral cortex and the amygdala and all of that.  It means that on the surface everything is cool like Fonzie.  Under the surface, there are potentially miles and miles of uncharted territory to uncover.  Most of this uncharted territory has been embedded into our core operating system known as the unconscious mind.  The autonomic system of nerves and functions.  This system controls things such as breathing and walking.  Notice that breathing is something innate we have from inception.  Walking is something we have to learn by trial and error.  This just means that it is not all set in stone.  We are not programmed once and then left to our own devices, never to question or be able to change what is built into us.

Staying with the computer example, if you don’t like the computer or it seems to be running slowly you can always do a few things to fix it.  You can reboot it in the hopes that there is just some glitch (some loop) that is causing problems.  You can go one step further by reloading the operating system.  The OS (operating system) is just a bunch of software (code) that tells the computer what to do.  It is manufacturer immaterial, meaning it doesn’t care what box you put it on as long as the core functions of that box are the same (similar hardware).  That’s why Windows runs on just about everything.  Linux is just as agile.  In essence, our minds and bodies work the exact same way.  If someone tells you otherwise they are just telling you lies.  You can reprogram your brain and body just like a computer.  Albeit not as easily, at least not yet, but it is possible to reboot and even reload the OS in your brain.

Before doing all of that though, I would recommend first analyzing what is going on in there right now.  Do some troubleshooting and deduce the issues you have.  Some critical.  Some not so critical.  Some you won’t care to investigate at all.  But there will be some that you may or may not want to change.  Start at the simplest levels and work your way forward to the more difficult stuff.  Change a nervous tick like clicking your teeth.  It is as simple as recognizing and isolating the tick.  Making a mental note of when and where it occurs.  Finding a mnemonic or reference point in order to remind yourself every time you do it.  Then replacing either the actual behavior or the pre or post behavior.  If you only do it when you are sitting on a bus on the way to work and it is usually preceded by crossing your legs then stop crossing your legs.

You will have to dive deep and ask some uncomfortable questions in order to find the root issues you may be dealing with but in the end, awareness is actually a really big step aside from trying to change things.  You don’t have to change.  There is no rule or law that says you have to.  You can minimize a great deal of stress in your life by just identifying, lovingly and kindly, what it is that makes you do what you do.  The rest is up to you whether to change or not.

Doing all of this from a place of compassion with yourself is the key to enlightenment.  Don’t beat yourself up when you uncover some deep dark hidden secret.  Rather, embrace it and sit with it and understand it.


Also published on Medium.

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Dont forget to leave me something to chew on after you have gone back to your normal life.. and I stay here inside the matrix. ;-)