Bonding

Grant Montgomery: Bonding with others

In the depression caused by the loss of a relationship, there is a tendency to go into isolation. But that very lack of bonding is often at the root of our depression.

Citing Dr. Henry Cloud’s book “Changes that Heal”, bonding is one of the most basic and foundational ideas in life and the universe. Bonding is a basic human need. We were created by God with a hunger for relationship – with both God and our fellow people. At our very core, we are meant to be relational beings. People who don’t make emotional attachments live in a state of perpetual hunger, a crying need that is not being met.

Research illustrates that when we are in a loving relationship, a bonded relationship, we are alive and growing. When we are isolated, we are slowly dying.

We come into the world learning to attach to others and to trust them, and we begin to develop emotionally and psychologically, proceeding along certain prescribed plans outlined by our Creator. If, however, we do not learn to attach to others, then our growth is stunted.

Everyone who has ever lived has encountered the problem of being born a little person in a big person’s world, and being given the task of becoming a big person over time. We are born children under adult authority, and over time we are expected to become adults ourselves and to take charge of our lives. Some of us never accomplish it, some signs of this inability to achieve adulthood being:

Inordinate needs for approval: This kind of approval is different from the normal affirmation we all need for our work. People who struggle with taking charge of their lives often cannot function independent of the approval of others. They strive constantly to gain the approval of some “significant other”, whether it be their boss, their friend, their co-worker or their pastor. Approval becomes problematic when people don’t feel good about themselves or their work until someone tells them that their work is good. They wait until an “authority” figure pronounces it good before they know that it is (and they are) good. The other’s opinion carries far too much weight and has taken on the role of judge, jury, or parent, for the person.

Guilt: Guilt always has as a component the loss of parental approval. Therefore, when one struggles with guilt, one still feels “under” the parental voice. The internal parent has not been dethroned so that it can’t continue to “punish”.

Depression: Depression stems from a “bad me”, self-critical attitude. People who are criticized by their internal parent feel guilty or bad, which leads them to depression. They have not become free from parental structures. When these people get in touch with their anger at their critical parent, and use this anger constructively to separate from that parent and become an adult, their one-down depression goes away, and they often find all sorts of creativity in its place.

Read Accepting Responsibility

 

Grant Montgomery is Director of Programs for Family Care (FCF)