When we think about difficult behaviors, very seldom are we thankful. Most of the time, understandably, we just want those behaviors to stop. So much parenting information suggests that we ignore or we punish behaviors if we don’t like them and that is supposed to make changes. But behaviors actually give us clues about the things that have happened to us earlier in our lives that are trying to heal. What if we could bring curiosity into the behaviors we see in ourselves and in our loved ones? Would that give us more space to actually see the behaviors for what they actually are and to find some gratitude for them? I’m Rebecca Thompson Hitt and this is the All Relationships Can Heal podcast. Today we’re talking about my guiding principle #4.
Principle #4. Behaviors occur on a continuum. Behaviors in children and adults correlate to the parents’ own neurodevelopment and attachment status. On one end of the continuum, you’ve got people who are very calm, flexible, relatable, empathetic, and easy to connect with. On the other end of the continuum, you’ve got people who are rigid, cold, lacking empathy, and difficult to connect with. The people who are easier to connect with have either had most of their early needs met (and were likely “easier” babies and children) and/or they’ve done their healing work. The people who are more difficult to connect with have often had difficult experiences without enough support, either starting with difficult experiences in the womb, at birth, or in early life, or experienced trauma and either didn’t have support or didn’t have adequate support to heal in relationship. Most people aren’t at either extreme, but somewhere in the middle.
The behaviors we see from adults and children isn’t just, “This is how a 10 year old or a 40 year old should behave,” but is a complex communication of previous experiences, unmet needs, met needs, attempts to connect and heal, and the relationship patterns we had when we were growing up. We will repeat them unconsciously without realizing it unless we bring it into consciousness.
Patterns of behavior actually begin in the womb as imprints on our nervous system. Other experiences, including birth and early life, have an impact on our behavioral patterns. We will repeat these patterns and they become our habits, for better or worse. When we begin to understand that behaviors are more complex than just learning to do something different, we can have more compassion and space for one another and our journey to wholeness. Our behaviors give us clues about our earlier experiences and we can work on them in present time with other willing people.
One person may have learned that relationships are dangerous and anytime someone tries to get close, they become very defensive and may attack. Another person may have learned that others are safe and when they have a challenge, they reach out for help and support. Others will avoid feelings or certain topics and pretend there isn’t anything wrong, while some are very anxious and will cling in a relationships. These are all examples of unmet and met needs and how those patterns show up for all of us later.
What do you notice about your own patterns? What do you do when you’re feeling stressed or having some big feelings? What do you do? Do you move towards others or away?
Consider bringing in some curiosity and wonderment to your own behaviors this next week. Those behaviors are there for a reason and they provide clues for you about things that are undone and may need a little extra support and love. It may not be right away, but you can get to the place where you can find gratitude for your story, for your experiences, and for your behaviors and the behaviors of those you love. I’d love to hear what happens when you create some space for curiosity about behaviors. Share in the comments! I’m Rebecca Thompson Hitt and you’ve been listening to the All Relationships Can Heal podcast. I’ll be back tomorrow with Fun Friday!