Wounds, Triggers (and Attachment Needs)
The following short 90-second video is one of my favorites of those I’ve done recently – because it clearly outlines why we get upset and what we must understand to reduce conflict. It addresses one of the keys to fixing a relationship: understanding our attachment needs, how they relate to our wounds, and our triggers. If you are struggling in your relationship, this is an essential step in creating a secure attachment style.
I’ll put the transcript below the video, and then I will explain more.
How are triggers and wounds related?
So, first, we need to start with attachment needs. We all have attachment needs. These are the needs to feel loved, accepted, valued, and considered. Of course, there will inevitably be times when these attachment needs are not met.
When an attachment need is not met, it leaves a wound. It may not be much of a wound, or in situations where attachment needs were disappointed over and over, it could be a big wound.
When we have a wound, it can get triggered by an event that has the same underlying message as the original wound. So, for instance, if the message was or we interpreted it as “You aren’t important,” “I don’t care what you’re feeling,” or “You’re defective.” That message or that perception of that message will activate the attachment wound.
So when an attachment wound is triggered, we react, meaning we behave in a certain way. That’s because we’re feeling something. Now we might be feeling sad or angry or confused or any number of things.
But not only what we’re feeling is important but also what we’re doing. Are we hitting, leaving, yelling, crying, ignoring, or arguing? These behaviors come out of the feelings triggered by an activated attachment wound.
This entire sequence must be understood and talked about to begin to bridge the gap and heal the wound.
We Are Vulnerable as Infants
Attachment needs and fears are directly related to our vulnerability as infants. Imagine you are a tiny infant with no ability to care for yourself. You need someone to take care of you, let you know you are loved, and connect and make contact with you. Without this care, you may not survive. These needs are hard-wired into us. They are at the root of our intimate relationships – because our intimate relationships are attachment-based.
This means ALL OF US are sensitive to attachment signals: whether our partner is tuned into us or isn’t. We all experience emotions around our partners’ actions and how we perceive them.
Adult Attachment Needs and Wounds
When our attachment needs are not met, we experience angst, discomfort, and fear. Imagine you were not fed or taken care of as a baby. You might learn to take care of yourself (depending on the degree of neglect.) Regardless, as an adult, you certainly will be sensitive to whether someone is tuned into you. And if they aren’t, you will have what I call a wound.
A trigger is an event that activates a wound. So, if your partner ignores you or does something else that activates a wound, it might cause you to experience big feelings. These feelings can cause you to take specific, usually unproductive actions in your relationship. Actions like withdrawing, yelling, or crying. These actions reflect attachment distress and undermine the creation of a secure attachment style.
WeConcile Can Help With Developing a Secure Attachment Style
WeConcile will help you understand your deep attachment needs and how they relate to your wounds and triggers. Then, you’ll look at your behavior (and your partner’s) and begin to unpack and discuss what is happening. This understanding and the conversations that follow will be invaluable to your relationship and will help you start to create a more secure connection and a secure attachment style.
Free Content on the WeConcile App
We are offering the topic Keys Of Intimacy – with the subtopics of Open Heart, My Intentions, and Intimacy Keys, as well as Emotional Safety Is Our Foundation under the Topic of Relationship Basics for free.
And for a short time – probably until April 2023, we are extending the 7-day free trial to 30 days. We are doing this because the WeConcile App is new, and we want to give people a chance to see what we offer.
If you like what you experience, you can subscribe to our Premium version, which includes many more features and access to all our content. Or you can use our free limited version.
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Thanks for reading!
Jennifer Lehr, LMFT
Here is another article that might interest you! Learn the Keys to a Happy Marriage
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