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Relationships: 5 Ways to Deal with Trauma Bonds

#1 Truth – We all want love; in fact, we need it to survive. As children, we grow up in families where the parents or caregivers are doing the best they know how, but oftentimes they themselves did not grow up in a secure household, so they don’t know how to model that for their kids. Have you ever felt yourself to be in that situation? 


Most children had to find a way to navigate that landscape, to get whatever love was available.  Why? Love means life, and bonds are necessary for survival. The thing is the bonds that were forged with those around them were laced with trauma, which brings us to…


Trauma Bonds:  These are conditioned ways of being that affect all of our relationships from a subconscious level – mostly we’re not even AWARE of them. So let me give you an example of a trauma bond. My parents fought all the time. In order to live in a home that felt better and more tranquil, I took on the roles of peacemaker and caregiver.  I hated conflict and would do everything to stave it off. So much so, that this way of coping became my familiar and comfortable behavior. 


The Challenge of Repeating Patterns: The coping styles we all create in childhood, most often do not serve us as we get older, but we unknowingly bring them into every relationship. Why?  Because we’re not aware of what’s driving us. The problem is if I recreate my role as a peacemaker or caregiver now in too many situations, I end up neglecting what’s important to me.


Whatever we may have been felt in childhood, the subconscious replicates. This includes all the familiar stresses, and the thing is, we are attracted to these types of situations and relationships without even knowing why!  This tendency is reinforced everywhere.  The media idealizes trauma bonds in relationships and calls it LOVE: the passion, disappointment, betrayal, the highs, and the lows. Do you know of someone who always finds themselves in new relationships, but something always goes wrong?  The new person in their life might have a different job or style, but they are just as off as the last one.  It seems to be a pattern.


I bet you do. And it may provoke questions that you have. It’s always so good to get to know what you think and what you want to know, and that's why I'm so excited to give you another way to ask what you want.


At Project Happiness, we are now part of Patreon and invite you to join too! It’s a way for me to get more personal with you, give you special challenges, like our next one  - the let it go challenge - and if you’ve benefited from our content, you can help us share it with even more people. So excited to be providing this!!  You can learn all about it in the link attached. 

OK, let’s jump in:


Be a detective – what patterns are showing up?

  1. Did a parent deny your feelings or reality or tried to impose their perspective and not consider yours? When reality was not validated, we don’t feel seen - we don’t trust our intuition. In adulthood, it shows up as lots of self-doubt, procrastination, OR we show up as a caretaker, OR super achiever (need to be seen).  The point is needing external validation instead of learning to trust yourself.  
  2. If there are no boundaries in childhood, it's hard to have limits or boundaries in relationships. This person asks, “Why don’t people appreciate me, consider me, why am I taken for granted? (This comes from not setting boundaries with ourselves and others). 
  3. Parents who could not regulate emotions. As adults, if we were not modeled coping skills, it's much harder to regulate our own emotions. We become reactive, or become numb through the addiction of choice, or ghost another person – all to avoid looking inside and ask the hard questions. 


Next Steps: This exercise is from Nicole Lapera's "How to Do The Work."

  1. List your closest relationships and how do you feel in them: physically feel tense and anxious, or safe and relaxed?
  2. Be on the lookout: How am I navigating my own emotions; am I re-enacting trauma bonds/ old patterns? Do I have to give up or betray parts of who I am to be loved?
  3. Am I depending on them to change to feel better?  That’s not within your control; blaming get you nowhere, so stay committed to taking care of you and your own growth.
  4. Am I honoring my own needs too? Am I being seen and heard? Can I be my authentic self? Be aware of self-betrayal and don’t forget about your own needs.
  5. Course Correct with new choices: By setting boundaries and keeping yourself accountable to honor your own needs. Stay aligned with what you value most: respect, kindness, being true, and trusting of yourself. From that place, everything opens up :)





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