We got a lot of inspiration from Tara and Bella about making close relationships work . . . we hope you do too.
For the past 23+ years we have been creating what we call a divine relationship, in which two people commit to walk together on a path that heals the hearts of both and opens each to the experience of the divine. What we have experienced is that walking this path together has activated layers of unmet developmental needs and wounds stemming from developmental traumas from the first three years of our lives. Our commitment to healing these wounds and meeting these needs within our relationship became a central focus of our relationship and served as a uniting force that has helped us through many challenging situations. It has required we use the forces of compassion and unconditional love for each other and ourselves. Our relationship conflicts have opened doorways that allowed us to explore both higher consciousness and deeper intimacy with each other and with ourselves. What we learned is that the deeper we went in our healing work, the more we expanded our consciousness.
Our experiences have helped us identify the true secret of divine relationships. The books about the Law of Attraction that have been very popular recently say that we can use the it to draw to us what we want. What this approach totally misses is that what we try to attract with our conscious mind is often cancelled out by what is hidden in our subconscious mind.
The Power of the Unconscious Mind
Biologist, Bruce Lipton, in his book, The Biology of Belief, offers an explanation for this. His research indicates that the conscious mind processes thoughts, feelings and beliefs at 40 bits per second, while the subconscious mind processes thoughts, feelings and beliefs at the rate of 40 million bits per second. If the conscious and subconscious minds have similar thoughts, feelings and beliefs, then the two work together in powerful synergy. If there is disagreement between them, then the subconscious mind is in charge. We believe that the real secret of books such as The Secret is learning how to change the subconscious thoughts, feelings and mistaken core beliefs that cancel out what the conscious mind wants and prevents us from attracting what we say we want.
The subconscious mind contains the wants, feelings, and beliefs that we hold about ourselves, about other people and about the world around us. This information module is known as the internal working model of reality, which developmentally is formed by the age of three.
The Internal Working Model of Reality
Developmental research has consistently shown that those who are unaware of how the internal working model shapes their conscious mind will find it very difficult to create real change in their life experiences over the course a lifetime.
We have learned how to access this internal working model of reality, map what it contains and created effective tools for changing it. Our books are filled with information on how to access and change your internal working model of reality, including our latest books, Breaking Free of the Co-dependency Trap, the Flight From Intimacy, Healing Developmental Trauma and Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way. These books are all available at our Store on the left hand navigation bar.
From our perspective, the information stored in our subconscious mind is the primary obstacle to experiencing a divine relationship with our self and others. The internal working model of reality typically contains:
- Early developmental traumas caused by an inability of our parents to understand and help us complete the two main developmental processes of early childhood: Bonding and the development of a Self. Unmet developmental needs from childhood show up in our closest adult relationships, such as a need for unconditional love and acceptance for who we are.
- Mistaken core beliefs about ourselves, other people and the world around us, that direct our behavior such as I am unlovable, I have to do what others want me to in order to earn their love and I have to protect myself in my close relationships from getting hurt again.
- Intergenerational family patterns and relational dynamics that we learned from growing up in our family of origin that show up in our adult relationships. Barry identified 12 common patterns that show up in most relationships and writes about them in Breaking Family Patterns.
Barry’s Book on Breaking Family Patterns This e-book, which is available at our Store, describes the following patterns:
- The Reappearance of Unwanted Parental Traits
- Parental Disapproval Patterns
- Revenge and Getting Even
- Replay of Co-dependent and Counter-dependent Issues
- Acting Weak and Helpless to Get Needs Met
- Seeing Your Life As a Struggle
- Sexual Repression
- Living Out Your Parent’s Relationship
- Family Loyalty and Legacy Issues
- The Fear of Success
The Fear of the Unknown
We use a very effective writing tool for accessing these subconscious thoughts, feelings and beliefs that we call The Two Lists.We ask people to look back at their childhood and make one list describing all the things they wish had been said or done for them as a child and weren’t, and having these things would have made their adult life easier and happier. Then we ask them to look back at their childhood from a different perspective. They make a second list describing the things that were said and done to them as a child that did not do them any good and were actually hurtful, harmful and prevents them from getting what they want and need in their adult relationships.
Each lists represents a different type of developmental trauma containing different kinds of unmet needs and mistaken beliefs, which relate to the intergenerational family-of-origin patterns that people bring into their closest relationships. The first list represents developmental traumas from the co-dependent stage of development, the pre-natal period and the first six months of life. These traumas leave unmet needs for experiencing trust, secure bonding, mirroring from others, expressions of unconditional love and a deep sense of being loveable. The most important healing tool for this list is being willing to ask for what you want and need one hundred percent of the time. This eliminates the childlike fantasy that someone will read your mind and give you what you want without asking.
The second list represents developmental traumas between the ages of seven months and three years. The items on list indicate the times you were hurt, abandoned, disrespected or misunderstood in some way. They also represent unmet developmental needs related to feeling safe and secure in close relationships, to having our feelings and needs understood and respected, to being seen and validated for who we are and to being able to trust our own internal signals, feelings and urges to guide our lives.
We found that the healing of the traumas on the second list requires letting go of the anger and resentment and the need to get revenge about what was done to us when we as a child. We found that the most effective healing tool for this list is forgiveness. Our definition of the word for-give means to give back. We must give back what others passed on to us that wasn’t useful and actually was harmful to our growth and well-being. Our books contain many other processes for doing this kind of deeper healing work. We realize this is not an easy path and may not be for everybody, but it sure has opened us to an increasingly deeper experience of a divine relationship.
In our recent book, Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way, ( 2009, pp. 161-172), we discuss one of the most universal human experiences: betrayal trauma.
Betrayal experiences create a special kind of developmental trauma and stress. They often begin in early childhood when you placed all your trust in your parents and other caregiving adults, anticipating that they would be perfect caregivers, see your essence, honor your innocence, appreciate your uniqueness, and meet your needs in a timely manner. When your parents were unable to do so, you felt betrayed. Our experience indicates that all people have betrayals of some kind during their lives.
Our first childhood betrayals often begin in early infancy. We perceived our parents and others as divine and trusted them to treat us with respect. However, your mother or father may have looked at you, perhaps while feeding you, failed to see your divine nature, and saw instead their own unfulfilled wishes and dreams. In this situation, they may have used you as a tool for meeting their own unmet needs. This is how the process of invalidating our divine nature begins. We eventually discover that our parents are not divine beings but mortal humans with faults and problems. This realization can trigger feelings of betrayal and damage if not break primal trust in the relationship.
In our adult relationships we attempt to recreate this experience of primal trust and use it as a criterion for determining the relationship’s worth, so we get betrayed again and learn that our partners are just ordinary human beings like our parents. In the middle of conflicts they say and do things that activate memories of unhealed betrayal trauma. We feel profoundly disappointed, lost, and hopeless that we will ever find someone who can mirror our divine self so we can recover it.
The research on human potential indicates that most people use only a small percent of their inherent capacities. They are so richly over-endowed that very few even begin to understand how much unused potential they really have at their disposal. In fact, Einstein, who was considered the epitome of mental giants, reportedly wept just before his death when he contemplated the fact that he had used so little of his own potential. Betrayal trauma, as a form of developmental trauma or stress, plays a major role in the loss of human potential, particularly the loss of innocence in early childhood. Each time parents or other adults fail to see, accept, and understand a child, they chip away at the child’s sense of Self. It is helpful to look at when, how, where, and by whom you might have been betrayed as a child in order to recover your split-off parts, restore your full connection to your essence, and reclaim the vision of your true potential.
Typical Responses To Betrayal
James Hillman (1975), in a very penetrating article about betrayal, writes about the choices people typically make when they feel betrayed. He believes that most people make what he calls “sterile choices” that prevent them from learning from their betrayals. Here are Hillman’s descriptions of each of these choices:
- Revenge. People often feel a very strong desire to get even with the persons who betray them. When someone says or does something hurtful, the immediate impulse may be to get revenge. Hillman says that this choice is the most common response and the one that creates the least amount of growth in consciousness. Seeking revenge and getting even mean placing the focus on what other people did or didn’t do or say; this response allows you to avoid looking at yourself in order to expand your awareness.
- Splitting. People in intimate relationships who are unable to maintain their internal object constancy or sense of self often resort to splitting against themselves or others. Triggered by post-traumatic stimuli from the past, they may feel regressed, and then make either himself or herself or the other person the “bad guy.” This kind of split immediately activates automatic flight/fight/freeze behavioral responses. Splitting responses to a betrayal may indicate a need for trauma reduction therapies and/or individual counseling that focuses on developmental trauma during the first three years of life.
- Denial. A third choice in a betrayal situation is to deny the value of the other person. This choice may also involve splitting, or making a person once perceived as “all good” into someone now perceived as “all bad.” It’s surprising how quickly this defense mechanism can be activated, often with little awareness. By placing all the blame on the betrayer you may miss important learning about the real source of the betrayal as a reenactment experience of some earlier betrayal trauma.
- Cynicism. This easy choice may be the disease of contemporary times. It is easy for people to get cynical because of their inabilities to stop reenacting their betrayal traumas and the subsequent lack of understanding of the patterns inherent in them. Cynicism is often called broken idealism and if only seen this way, that perspective prevents any serious look at how any previous betrayals may have led up to the current one. Cynicism, again, doesn’t lead to much growth or awareness.
- Paranoia. Paranoia, or a lack of trust of the betrayer, is another common response to betrayal. Someone who was betrayed and hurt in a loving, trusting relationship may require that people pass a lot of tests before they are allowed to get close again. Paranoia also leads to very little growth. It requires a lot of time to constantly monitor the other person’s behavior to determine if he or she is passing some trustworthiness tests. Rather than focusing on the source of the betrayal or the patterns being reenacted in the relationship, paranoia is another way of avoiding self-scrutiny.
- Self-Betrayal. The final sterile choice, according to Hillman, involves the betrayal of one’s own self. The inner response to a betrayal might be, “How could I have been so stupid!” Such responses often include a self-judgment about the risks that were taken. Rather than seeing the risk-taking as a potential for learning, it becomes classified as a mistake that is used for self-judgment and disempowerment. In another post is a skill practice exercise designed to help you identify your patterns of betrayal that could have caused you to have unhealed developmental trauma or stress.
It is big business today in America to label any compulsive behaviors related to food, drink, sex, relationships, or activities such as gambling, smoking, working, or shopping as a disease. The expensive residential treatment programs that stand to benefit most from the disease model have been successful in getting almost all addictions or compulsive behaviors labeled as diseases, even though there is very little research evidence to support this disease model. But, there is almost no solid research evidence to support the claims that participating in these treatment programs leads to recovery.
The National Council on Alcoholism, for example, says that you cannot recover from the disease of alcohol addiction and that you will always have to identify yourself as an alcoholic or an addict. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) also supports this widespread notion, which was originally developed to counteract the moralistic judgments against alcoholics or problem drinkers who were cured by staying away from alcohol.
While there is some research linking alcohol and genetics, it is mixed and contradictory. What is clear is that some people cannot metabolize the sugar in alcohol and should stay completely away from it. These people have an allergy to sugar, not to alcohol itself. George Vaillant, a physician and a strong supporter of AA, argues that alcoholism is not, strictly speaking a disease [but] calling alcoholism a disease . . . is a useful device both to persuade the alcoholic to admit his alcoholism and to provide a ticket for admission into the health-care system.” However, he concluded, in the long run, it [the disease concept] is not effective. Vaillant also conducted the largest comparative study of the effects of AA support versus no AA support on long-term abstinence by former alcohol abusers. He found that 81 percent of those who quit on their own were still abstinent after ten years, while only 32 percent of those who attended AA meetings regularly remained abstinent after ten years. The popularity of the disease concept of alcoholism has been spread by AA and the National Council on Alcoholism.
In 1956 the American Medical Association determined that alcoholism was a disease, even though there was almost no research evidence to support the claim. As noted earlier, the founders of AA used the word disease metaphorically, meaning that they believed that alcohol addiction resembled a disease. Certainly, this concept was useful at that time, because of the widespread moral condemnation of alcohol abusers. The American Medical Association, however, began to see how useful and profitable it might be to drop the metaphoric use of the term, and stretched its diagnostic categories to include alcoholism.
So definitive and authoritative was this pronouncement that, by 1987 (according to a Gallup survey), almost 90 percent of Americans believed alcoholism was a disease.
In addition to helping more and more medical specialists become wealthy, the disease model has dramatically changed the insurance industry.
Once co-dependency and counter-dependency were diagnosed as mental diseases, practitioners were able to collect third-party payments from insurance companies for treating co-dependency and counter-dependency. Between 1978 and 1984, the number of for-profit residential treatment centers increased by 350 percent, and their caseloads rose by 400 percent.
Typical twenty-eight day in-patient programs (twenty-eight days is the usual maximum length for in-patient care that most insurances will pay for) cost the patient’s insurance company from twenty thousand to forty thousand dollars. Many of these ads played on people’s fears that their undetected disease would eventually kill them or a family member if they didn’t seek immediate treatment. This excess was a major influence on the managed care model of mental health that limited treatment of mental illnesses and severely reduced the liability of the insurance industry for mental health coverage. As noted, cost containment procedures in most insurance companies now limit the number of days of inpatient care; they also limit the number of sessions of outpatient care, or the dollar amounts for both.
Unfortunately,the short-term approach now in use, because of the cost-containment policies of insurance companies, has replaced the client-therapist relationship with prescription drugs, which do not, and will not ever, address the developmental issues inherent in addictions. Once alcoholism became widely accepted as a disease, so was the concept of co-alcoholism (now called co-dependency). Co-alcoholism was defined as a disease that a person caught by growing up in an alcoholic family.
This diseasing of alcoholism and co-alcoholism led to labeling other compulsive behaviors as disease, including sex, gambling, eating, worrying, smoking, shopping, rage, religious beliefs, and being in an abusive relationship. The only compulsive behavior so far to escape the disease label is compulsive working (workaholism).
Using the current medical approach, almost any set of behaviors engaged in excessively or compulsively that might have intermittently harmful effects on a person or others whom this person relates to is defined as an addiction, which (and now for the biggest leap) is then automatically defined as a disease.
by Janae B. Weinhold & Barry K. Weinhold. (2008, New World Library). $14.95 – 245 p. This book, which describes the flip side of co-dependency, shows how trauma during the separation stage of development causes recurring conflicts and problems with intimacy in adult relationships. This is the only book on the market on this important topic, and more than half ofit is devoted to self-inventories and practical exercises designed to identify and change counter-dependent behaviors.
Developmental trauma by our definition, is caused by breaks in the sensory bond that connects children with their caregivers. This sensory bond happens through skin-to-skin, eye-to-eye, ear-to-ear and right-brain-to-right-brain contact that creates a resonant field of interconnected energy.
Allen Schore’s introduction of language from quantum sciences into the study of infant and children’s mental health has been a real gift. He uses terms such as emotional synchrony, attunement and resonance to describe this sensory bond between children and their caregivers, particularly their mothers. Language from quantum sciences is also very useful in describing what happens to young children when this sensory field of attunement gets disturbed or even shattered. Schore uses terms such as misattunement and relational trauma to capture the nuances of events and experiences that disrupt this adult-child bond.
From our perspective, developmental trauma is a form of relational trauma that happens over a long period of time. The effects of these subtle experiences gradually accumulate over time, and eventually delay children’s bonding with their mother and other caregivers. This eventually delays their psychological development.
Based on our clinical work, we found that the more bonded children are to their mothers, the more able they are to complete their psychological birth and the process of individuation. We emphasize exactly these points in our books, Breaking Free of the Co-Dependency Trap and The Flight From Intimacy.
The Impact of Developmental Trauma on Adult Relationships
The template for all human relationships is formed during the first year of a child’s life. It is created directly and exactly from his or her interactions with the mother. This template serves as a program that repeatedly reconstellates itself in all subsequent relationships. It becomes a melodic theme that is repeated in many musical keys and different tempos. Emotionally the feeling themes, beliefs and outcomes are identical.
I (Janae) remember my effort to explain this dynamic to my youngest son, who works as a construction superintendent in the home building industry. I began by talking about the footers on which the foundation was poured and likened them to the period of pre-conception. Then I talked about the condition of the soil where the footers were poured and then the importance of the poured or cement block foundation being absolutely square.
Being the bright young man he is, he quickly got the point and began talking in rapid-fire mode about a house he’d worked on with an out-of-square foundation and all the problems he’d had with the framers, the drywallers, the plumbers, tilers and the finish carpenters. The house had been a nightmare for him, he said, because at every turn, the subcontractors had to compensate for this early developmental trauma.
Unlike out-of-square houses, it is possible to modify the impact of developmental trauma on the human mindbody. This is the premise in the fields of of developmental psychology and traumatology, which now focus intensely on clearing trauma from the mindbody AND from the relational template. This premise is also at the heart of Developmental Process Work, our clinical paradigm for working with individuals, couples and the central focus of Developmental Systems Theory, our model for helping larger systems evolve.
You’ll find a wealth of information and tools for resolving intractable conflicts caused by unidentified and unresolved developmental trauma HERE.
And for information on developmental parenting, go HERE.