"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Friday, January 11, 2013

Are You Safe?

Safe means feeling safe on the inside, even when unsafe things are happening on the outside. Unsafe things might be people shouting, people trespassing your boundaries, people trying to manipulate you, people trying to steal your energy, and so on. Safe means feeling safe on the inside even when your partner is talking about leaving you, or when you think you might be down-sized from your job, or when you have just found out that your partner is having an affair, or even when someone you love dies. Safe means that the place you feel safe, and the why you feel safe, and the what and who determines that you feel safe, all originates with you, inside of you as opposed to anywhere else. The fact that you feel safe has nothing to do with:

  • The state of your love relationship / marriage
  • The state of your bank account
  • The state of your health
  • The state of your job or profession
  • The state of your friendships
 All of those parts of your life are undoubtedly enormously important, but they do not determine – in a healthy individual – the state of that individual’s inner feeling of safety because that – if it is real - emanates from inside, and not from anything external.

Attachment Theory

So let’s look a bit at how this inner state of safety evolves. To do that, let’s examine a basic tenet of developmental psychology: attachment theory. The attachment bond is what evolves (or not) between the child and its primary caregiver (the person who most cares for it after birth and during early childhood). This bond refers to a lasting emotional and psychological connection with another. Around 1970, researchers John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth demonstrated that there are four basic ways in which we develop attachment. Children between 12 and 18 months were observed in their homes in order to get a baseline of their interaction with their parents (or caretakers) in a familiar surrounding, and then were brought to a lab for an experiment (called the “Strange Situation”) where after arriving in a room and settling in, the child’s parent left the room for a short time. The important thing was observing how the child reacted upon being left alone and how it reacted when the parent re-entered the room.

  • Secure Attachment: these children explore happily while the parent is still in the room, they get upset when he leaves and are comforted when he returns. They also know they can count on the parent for comfort when they are upset because of the way the parent normally responds to the child. If a stranger comforts them while they are upset, they respond well, but clearly prefer the parent. This parent responds well to the child at all times. 
  • Avoidant: these children explore, but not in connection with the parent. When the parent leaves, they are not upset, nor are they happy when the parent returns and if the parent picks them up they turn away, and show little reaction. If a stranger tries to connect with them they react in a similar – avoidant - fashion. This parent does not react to the distressed child, and further, has shown the child that no tears and independence are desirable. 
  • Ambivalent/Resistant: distrusts strangers, becomes very upset when the parent leaves but can not be consoled when the parent returns. There may be low maternal availability in the home or the parent may be inconsistent between appropriate and neglectful behaviour. 
  • Disorganized: there is a lack of clear attachment type. When the parent returns, the child may freeze or rock itself. The parent may be frightened or frightening, may be withdrawn, intrusive or abusive. Because the child feels both comforted and frightened by the parent, it becomes confused and disorganized in its attachment. 
Adult Relationships

As you can imagine, these different styles of attachment lead to different ways of feeling safe and secure within the self, and this becomes particularly evident in the adult love relationship. So the securely attached adult will tend to have loving, trusting and lasting relationships, has good self esteem and has no problems sharing feelings with friends and partners, the ambivalent adult may overly worry that the partner does not love them and become very upset when a relationship ends, the avoidant adult may show difficulty with intimacy, invest little emotion in social and romantic relationships and may have problems with sharing thoughts and feelings with others (see also Emotional Unavailability: An Introduction), and the disorganized adult may take on – even at a very young age – a parental or caretaking role for the parent (the articles referenced throughout this article about boundaries, emotional unavailability and neediness all fit this type).

With this article my main focus has been on giving you some information you may not have been aware of. At the same time, I would like to encourage all of you, both those who have recognized themselves, as well as those who have recognized their partners, parents, or children, that cutting-edge research in neuroscience very clearly indicates that none of this is set in stone. While clinicians, therapists and others may have insisted in the past that these early developmental stages tended to leave indelible scars that were nearly impossible to eradicate, we know differently now. In other words, the brain is so flexible – hence the word neuroplasticity - that with awareness we can change much, improve much, and make the quality of our lives better. This awareness must be learned and practiced, and I certainly don’t pretend you will be able to do that from reading this brief article, but know that it can be done. The awareness I am referring to is much more than just being aware of the possibility of negative situations from your childhood having led you to current problems. More than that, it is an awareness of the self, the conscious choice to take complete responsibility for the self – taking responsibility for everything you think, feel and say, and every action and reaction you have - and in so doing, begin the path to inner peace and freedom.

For more about connecting to your inner self, and of making conscious choices that will enhance your life and promote greater inner peace and freedom, have a look at my book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self (paperback or Kindle).

To download the first chapter, click here
To see the Table of Contents click here

From the Description on Amazon:

Ask anyone, whatever their circumstances, if their life is vibrant, fulfilling, harmonious and happy. An honest reply is likely to be 'no', because to answer a truthful 'yes' is no mean feat. Only to grow psychologically and emotionally is not enough. And only to grow spiritually is not enough either. All three dimensions need to be developed in order to realize your full potential. If you are willing to assume total responsibility for the self and to start what is an on-going journey, you will quickly begin to glimpse the first fruits of the ultimate goal: inner well-being, freedom, peace, harmony and joy. This book sets out the pathway to self-mastery and self-discovery and walking that pathway will be the most exciting adventure of your life.

My new book The Tao of Spiritual Partnership is now also available in print and Kindle formats.

To download the first chapter, click here
To see the Table of Contents click here

From the Description on Amazon: More exciting than any other kind of relationship you have ever known, spiritual partnership is a path, a Tao, available to you so that you may transform your life. Spiritual partnership becomes background music to daily life allowing you to enhance the process of your growth and evolution.

This ground-breaking book addresses:

• relationship patterns that hold you back from a truly fulfilled life
• the strong connection between sexuality and spiritual partnership
• communication leading to true connection & lasting transformation of your relationship

It is precisely at the problematic crossroads so often encountered in relationships that we are offered the opportunity to create a new foundation based on mutual complementarity rather than need; a free relationship between two people who want to be together, rather than two people who need to be together. Needing another, we are told, is the measure of love, but for a fully conscious individual nothing could be further from the truth. And therein lies part of the secret and healing power of spiritual partnerships. 

Praise for The Tao of Spiritual Partnership 

“All humans seek the illusive touch of another's Soul, which opens us to the sense of belonging to something bigger than the self. Dr. Kortsch has given us the true "tao" of relationship in this brilliant exploration of emotional tapestry. We will be grateful for this illumination of spiritual partnership for generations to come." 
Chris Griscom: Spiritual Leader, Author 

“Eloquently and comprehensive, showing how your primary love relationship may be a sacred vessel that transports you and your partner to a place of mutual healing and expansion.” 
Robert Schwartz: Author of Your Soul’s Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born 

"The Tao of Spiritual Partnership is a unique blend of wit and wisdom; Dr. Kortsch encourages us to take responsibility for our relationships, while recognizing and seizing the opportunities for our own personal spiritual growth." 
William Buhlman, Author of Adventures Beyond the Body 

Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for my new book. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

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