Attachment and authenticity

By Dave Henning / June 4, 2023

“People have two needs: attachment and authenticity.  When authenticity threatens attachment, attachment trumps authenticity.”- Gabor Mate, psychiatrist and trauma specialist

“God designed us to instinctively know in our bodies that we need the care of others.  And if we don’t get that support — especially in our childhood years — we take whatever we can get so we can survive.  We are as adaptive as the situation requires.”- Aundi Kolber

In Chapter 1 — “The Cost of Being (A Certain Kind Of) Strong” — of Strong Like Water, Aundi Kolber notes that from birth, God wired all of us to need our caregivers.  No matter what the cost.  Most significantly, Aundi observes, there’s one form of nurturing vital to human flourishing: co-regulation.

Caregivers provide this kind of nurture when they respond to one’s distress or pain with empathy and attunement.  In addition, Dr. Daniel Siegel calls what children experience when they encounter a co-regulating presence ‘feeling felt.’  And these experiences, Aundi states, become the platform from which we bring our presence into the world in the most healthful way.

As a result, Aundi explains how she began to reimagine strength:

“Just as water can change from a gas, to a solid, to a rushing river or a gently flowing stream — so too has God imbued our bodies with this ability to adapt: this strength.  And so I began to think: What if all the ways we are designed to survive should never be viewed as sources of shame but rather of honor? . . .

What if our innate ability to survive distress is strength, but so are tenderness, compassion, feeling our feelings, and learning to rest? . . .  The flow of strength ideas is meant to help us visualize that, like water, our response to challenging situations is meant to be fluid.”

In conclusion, Aundi points out, at every point in this flow of strength cycle, our bodies work to keep us safe and alive.  Above all, this idea needs to be recognized for the strength that it is.

Today’s question: Do you agree with Gabor Mate’s statement?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Situational strength – short spurts”

About the author

Dave Henning

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