By the time we’re four months old, our interactions with our primary caregiver reveal whether or not we’ll have a secure or insecure attachment—our foundation for all our love relationships.
We learn early and unconsciously which emotions our primary caregiver can welcome in themselves and in us. If they get angry or overwhelmed when we’re scared, for instance, we’ll show less fear, to try to keep their nervous systems regulated so they won’t leave us or hurt us. Similarly, if they can’t rejoice in our joy, we’ll minimize our joy.
Our parent’s window of welcome preexists us, largely established by their own parent’s window for them and any traumatic experiences that are still unheld and unaccompanied. This is one manifestation of intergenerational trauma—generation after generation unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) hands down a “no” to the next generation’s emotional experience and expression, and doesn’t catch our earliest cries for secure resonant connection.