Because human brains prioritize survival – fight, flight, and freeze responses play a role in our daily lives, which can impact our ability to develop Secure Attachment both as children and as adults.
Negative or threatening experiences register quickly into our long-term memories due to the ever-vigilant amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for our survival responses in addition to emotional components, aspects of our memory, and interacts with the body’s stress hormone response.
What this Means for Secure Attachment in Parenting
Children have developing brains, and unfortunately, our negative behaviors and attitudes toward them can dig into deeply into their long-term memories. In homes with parents or caregivers have insecure Attachment styles and erratic behavior, it can pose a challenge for children in regards to developing Secure Attachment.
According to studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph.D., in order to reduce the impact of the brain’s negativity bias, humans require regular positive interactions and connections. It takes more time for these positive interactions and feelings to become part of our long-term memories. Awareness of this bias is particularly impactful when children are developing in order to avoid Attachment disruptions.
Negativity Bias among Couples
Additional research by Cacioppo, later published in his book, Behavioral, Humanistic-Existential, and Psychodynamic Approaches to Couples explored intimate relationships and examined the balance of positive and negative interactions between couples. Because of the brain’s natural negativity bias, that balance requires something more than an even split and depends on couples developing a “relationship thermostat” that signals that connection and intimacy are needed.
Even couples with volatile relationships who developed this ability to sense when it was time to reconnect reported greater overall happiness and longevity.
Positivity and Secure Attachment
It’s important to remember that small, frequent positive interactions are all that is necessary. Parents and couples do not necessarily need to make grand gestures to tip the scales away from the brain’s negativity bias. Most importantly, it’s essential to tune-in to your intimate friend and family circle in order to gain awareness when it’s time to reconnect.
Humans can also choose where to direct their focus. Do you notice when those closest to you are generous, kind, and available? Or do you choose to focus on those times when they are not?
Interested in the Brain’s Role in Secure Attachment?
We offer a number of live trainings and online programs to help therapists and individuals develop their knowledge of Attachment and to learn practical applications in their lives as well as in session with clients.