How Trauma Hijacks Our Love Map

Our primary life purpose is to experience love.

 

In theory, every child is supposed to bring joy and fulfilment to the parents, allowing them to satisfy their primary biological purpose: bringing a new human into the world and helping him or her become a functioning member of society. The fundamental contract between parent and child is that the parents will love the child unconditionally.

This child will then grow up feeling loved and accepted, its brain capable of recognizing and recreating that deeply fulfilling experience with romantic partners and anyone else they come in contact with.

In practice, any therapist will tell you that most of our problems in adulthood stem from our childhood experiences. Specifically, our relationship with our parents.

Our earliest experience of love – that feeling of safety and acceptance, the knowing someone is there for us when we are hungry, tired or scared – encodes our brain for trust or anxiety, for love or fear.

This becomes the reference point for all other love experiences and, our brain, being the prediction machine that it is, just keeps responding the same way. This program gets enriched with every other instance when we need to engage our love circuits and, over time, becomes what I call the Love Map.

For many, this early experience encodes for fear: what these days most people define as anxiously or avoidantly attached.

 

What happens when we don’t know how to love

 

If growing up, we feel ‘less’, inadequate, or that we must earn love because those responsible for our safety are unavailable or simply too self-involved, our ‘Love Map’ will lead us into trouble. This set of unconscious responses and coping mechanisms we collected throughout our lifetime is as if the GPS on our phone is off and we keep getting to the wrong destination – never experiencing unconditional love.

And then things can get worse. Often, just when we think we’ve found the love, the safety, the connection that will finally teach our brain that we are safe, the unthinkable happens.

We lose the love, we are betrayed, our dreams and hopes are crushed, the life we imagined was ours disappears in a puff of smoke. What now?

 

Our Love Map is blown to pieces and suddenly we are lost.

 

Lost to ourselves and others, wondering in the dark. Everything we thought we knew about life and love suddenly feels unreal and unreliable.

At this point, we stop feeling like ourselves. Without that inner guidance system that, for better or worse, kept us on track, we float in a lonely and scary space where we see no light.

That’s when we start looking for a compass: people and experiences who will help us find peace within ourselves and learn that we can give ourselves the love we crave from others. To start a new foundation for a life in which love is a choice we make, not a series of unfortunate events, entirely out of our control.

Rewriting that tattered map in our heads is a process that takes courage and commitment, but it is the only way forward.

If you feel lost, stuck and unable to see a way forward, you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

I’m Valentina Tudose,
Hong Kong’s Number 1 Relationship Coach

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