As I get older, I strive to learn more about myself. If only I had spent my 20s figuring out who I was. Instead, I worried what other people thought and had unhealthy codependent relationships with people who were toxic for me. There’s no use crying over spilled milk now. All I can do is move forward and as I do, I come to some realizations about myself. One of those realizations is that I don’t think I ever properly learned to form emotional bonds. I think I have always been sensitive and I’ve been deeply hurt by dysfunctional people. It caused me to withdraw as a method of protection.
Does anyone really specifically think about emotional bonding, especially as something necessary to teach children? We teach kids independence, math, phone numbers, to say please and thank you, choose and put on their clothes and brush their teeth, but do we help them with empathy?
“Empathy is a complicated skill, but it’s easy to teach. To actively work on empathy, we must teach our children what to do with the feelings and thoughts that get dredged up by social conflict. To begin, we can provide a framework to process the social content — parents can name the emotions and help explain other perspectives.”
I try to be mindful and point out when my daughter is compassionate to a friend or validate her feelings of anger when she gets upset. She is sometimes lonely as an only child. Instead of pushing those emotions away or deflecting, I try to tell her it’s completely understandable.
I don’t know if it’s enough. I think back in the 70s and 80s when I was a child, very little thought was put into empathy or emotions. As a society, we still tend to be stoic and maintain a self-controlled demeanor when it comes to feelings and tears and anger, etc.
I don’t mean to place blame on anyone (especially my parents). It’s just something I think we should focus more on. Instead of worrying about choosing a career that will make the most money, why not choose one based on what good you can put back into the world? I feel like it’s too late for me (career-wise), but I can pass the knowledge on hopefully to younger readers.
Emotional bonds aren’t just for romantic partners, but for family and friends. I know one of my issues is the fear of losing control of my emotions in front of people. Here is a good article with a list of signs that you are emotionally exhausted. Every one pretty much fits me. I’m emotionally exhausted, yet emotionally distant. How does that work?!
Anyhow, I have no tips or wonderful advice except it’s something to be aware of. Just hanging out and being busy with people doesn’t necessarily mean you have formed emotional bonds with them. It’s tricky. I suppose there is an element of emotional bonds that is intangible. But, there are also some obvious traits.
- You can express all range of feelings with a person, including sadness and anger, and the other person will still accept you
- Everything doesn’t have to be perfect or positive all the time and it’s okay
- You are able to go out of your comfort zone with each other
- You force yourself to sometimes say things that make you uncomfortable (fears, dreams, traumas, etc.)
- You actively trust and try to build trust
- You try to see the world through other people’s eyes instead of being quick to judge
Those are just a few ideas, some of which are found here.
If you are reading this, I hope that you are lucky enough to have learned how to form healthy emotional bonds or that you get something out of this that will make you more aware when you may detach and be unavailable to those you care for and reverse it if possible. 🙂