Taken from The Relational Soul – It is in our closest relationships that our attachment pattern and learned level of intimacy shows up most dramatically. We can meet a stranger on the sidewalk and be courteous and kind. But work in business with someone, serve in ministry with someone, live in a marriage with someone and our “stuff” begins to show. When it does we can make commitments to connect better, be more kind, to spend more time with each other, to not let another hit our emotional buttons (the list goes on and on). But more often than not we can find ourselves back in the old, unfulfilling ways of relating. It’s because of what is at the core of how we relate. It is because of our capacity to trust appropriately.

Clearly, unknown and unresolved issues from the past can sabotage what we desire most deeply—communion and connection with others and, ultimately, with God. So we cannot learn to live more fully alive in relational connection without addressing our attachment pattern and learned level of intimacy. We must find out where we are on the spectrum. We must recognize the habits that serve as our “normal.”

If you have an avoidant or ambivalent or scattered pattern resulting in a learned level of intimacy that is more reactive than receptive please hear us. Your reactivity will be hard to change because that has been your way of relating for most of your life. We’ve all learned how to be a “me” early in life and it is hard to see because it is habitual. It is where we feel “comfortably secure” no matter how painful the reactivity proves to be. The first step is seeing our “normal” and then recognizing that no amount of willpower alone will bring the transformation we desire.

Thankfully, we don’t have to remain captive to unhealthy relational patterns. Remember, we are structured for relationships and by relationships. Our souls are relational at their core. We are designed for giving and receiving. We are neurologically structured with an attachment system in our brains and bodies that compels us to connect with others. We can learn to live more fully alive with the help of others who truly care for us. This is why we said healthy relationships are the result of both grit and grace. We have to do our part when it comes to nurturing the receptive trust necessary for relational connection. But the capacity to trust and the receptivity it fosters is ultimately a gift. It is a gift emerging out of the deep, nurturing, and receptive care of God’s loving presence flowing through others. We learn to love well only by being loved well!

Taken from The Relational Soul by Richard Plass and James Cofield. Copyright (c) 2014 by Richard Plass and James Cofield. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com