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Stu: This week I’m excited to welcome Adam Lane Smith to the podcast. Adam is a transformative force in the field of personal development and relationships. He’s a specialist in attachment and has coached a variety of individuals from every walk of life and helped them build the life they’ve always wanted. In this episode, we discuss the most common attachment issues linked to deep-rooted patterns and beliefs, and dig into the strategies to overcome them. Over to Adam.
Some questions asked during this episode:
What are the most common attachment issues/stories?
Why do many of us attract the wrong type of person when we have the best intentions?
How important are physical friend groups/meet-ups in the age of digital communication?
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The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.
Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance, in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long-lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.
Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website that is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay, back to the show.
This week I’m excited to welcome Adam Lane Smith to the podcast. Adam is a transformative force in the field of personal development and relationships. He’s a specialist in attachment and has coached a variety of individuals from every walk of life and helped them build the life they’ve always wanted. In this episode, we discuss the most common attachment issues linked to deep-rooted patterns and beliefs, and dig deep into the strategies to overcome them. Over to Adam.
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Adam Lane Smith to the podcast. Adam, mate, how are you?
I’m doing great over here. It’s good to be called, mate. I always love that. Here in the United States, they say that whenever you’re called mate, you feel a little more fancy than you did before.
It’s one of those terms I think that we probably use the most. Every conversation has a mate in there somewhere. But yeah, I feel naked if I didn’t use that word.
We’ll pretend that it’s special then for me, if that’s all right with you.
It is special. It is special. First up, for all of our listeners there that may not be familiar with you or your work, I would love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself please.
Absolutely. I’m Adam Lane Smith. I am the attachment specialist. I help people fix their relationship problems that have hounded them since the day that they were born. If your childhood was difficult, if you just didn’t know how to get love as a kid, and you still don’t as a grownup, and things just don’t feel right. Maybe you don’t have friends, maybe partners are a hard thing, maybe raising your kids is tough. If you need help, that is my specialty. I was a licensed marriage and family therapist for many, many years. Now I do specific coaching and helping people make sure that they take care of that problem right here and now so that they can live a good life.
Brilliant. Fantastic. Well look, very interested to get into this conversation. At 180 Nutrition, we typically focus on four pillars, which we call the four pillars of health, nutrition, movement, mindset and sleep. Mindset, as you probably know, is a bit of a different beast. The brain is a muscle and oftentimes it runs its own path. For us, having healthy relationships and community is super, super important. I’d never actually considered the depth and breadth of where this could go. But after listening to some of your content, I’ve realized that we’ve got a lot to talk about. It’s a really important pillar to hone in, especially from this relationship perspective.
That’s so true.
So attachment theory, I dug into Dr. Google and had a good look and pulled it apart and watched lots of videos. What’s attachment theory?
Look, it’s when you are born, you’re a little baby and the moment you’re born, your brain starts trying to figure out what gets me attention from other people? What gets me taken seriously? Who meets my needs and how and when do they meet my needs? Am I worthy of having my needs met? Can I trust other people? Your brain has mirroring neurons in your brain and mom is supposed to make faces at you and talk to you and be fun with you to just show you that you deserve attention and that you’ll be cared for. Then when you start burping and making noises back, she mimics them. Your aunts, your grandmothers, your dad, eventually maybe other siblings, they’ll mimic them back too. You learn that you don’t have to be interesting, people will just be with you because they care about you for family and for connection. Then you learn people are going to take care of me. They meet your needs, they take care of you, they love you, they change you, they feed you, they play with you.
When you grow up, when a problem happens, you make a mistake, they work with you to solve it and correct it and they teach you that mistakes aren’t terrifying. It’s okay. We are all still a family. Everything’s wonderful. Your parents are together, they’re always together, they raise you. This sounds like a dream filled utopia for many people right now, that probably never happens. Adam, that’s just on the movies. That’s how humans are supposed to be raised so that we can grow up thinking people will love us. We don’t have to be interesting, people are going to care about us, they’ll meet our needs and we’ll take care of them too. We all take care of each other. Family, friends.
This is called secure attachment and the research shows that only about one third of adults in the west now have secure attachment anymore. It used to be two thirds, now it’s down to one third. For the rest of us, there is something called anxious attachment style, avoidant attachment style, disorganized attachment style. Basically when you’re a little baby, your parents don’t look at you, they don’t play with you or they’re too anxious or too stressed or they go to work all the time and you’re at daycare, you’re with strangers. If you are a little tiny baby born premature, you’re in the hospital for a month in that enclosed box without the bonding that you need, the skin to skin contact that warmth. If you get hurt, if your parents are gone, if your parents split up when you’re four years old and the family cracks apart and you get a message of sometimes love just doesn’t last.
If someone abuses you, someone hurts you. If your parents just don’t know what they’re doing and they mess things up really bad and then they never correct it, you can learn that no one will ever take you seriously and that you have to be interesting and stimulate other people in a variety of ways to get approval, to get attention, to be safe, to have people care about you. We are full of a world right now of people trying to be interesting and trying to stimulate other people for attention and get their needs met. You look on the internet and you’re going to see all of that all over the place. So attachment theory says we form these ideas as infants. We never challenge them. We continue them into adulthood and they haunt us all our life until we fix them, until we’re aware of them. Then we can choose to challenge those through experience, through recalibrating our brain.
Oh, dear. We’re in trouble. We’re in trouble. I’m just trying to unpack what you said there. I’m married, have been married for 23 years. I have three children, three young-ish children, teen is at 15 and an eldest is 18. Nobody taught me how to be a parent. I had no preconceptions on how to become a parent, or the best thing that I could do to raise my children. My children were born into a digital age. While it doesn’t gel with me, my children were born into a time when lots of their friends had tablets, iPads and whatever other tablets were stuck in front of them, and mobile phones and left for hours to swipe, giggle and do whatever they need to be doing.
I’m guessing that probably isn’t optimal in terms of setting the right program for the child as the child grows. I’ve spoken to a lot of experts that talk about this program that can typically take up until year eight to embed, that then runs us for the rest of our lives. Given the fact that tech’s not going away, the world’s getting more of a crazy place, parents are more stressed, whether it be emotionally, financially, psychologically, feel like they have less time. Lots of work to be done, perhaps by you. So what are the most common attachment issues then or stories that you see coming about from whatever’s happened in the past?
Oh, boy. When I was a little boy, I had attachment issues myself, which is what started me down this path. I had anxious attachment, the belief that because other people in the family system didn’t meet your needs, didn’t care for you, didn’t pay attention in the right ways, hurts that could happen. Anxious attachment, the child turns inward and says, something is unlovable about me. Here in the middle of me, something is unlovable. Everybody else who sees it instantly recognizes, I don’t deserve love and I am scum and I have to constantly earn approval or I will be abandoned. It comes from childhood year one, year two. So then your brain says, if I’m abandoned, I will die. It tags into your amygdala, abandonment equals death. So anytime you perceive the possibility of being exposed as a fraud or being abandoned, your brain says, I’m about to die. You start having panic attacks or limbic system fires off, everything goes crazy.
You also though, as a little kid with attachment issues, you won’t develop much oxytocin bonding. Oxytocin is responsible for a tremendous number of biological processes. One of them is releasing the inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is responsible as a natural anti-anxiety, natural antidepressant. It’s what tells your brain, I don’t have to feel scared or depressed. People love me. I am safe and everything is wonderful. That helps release melatonin for sleeping better at night. Your anxiety goes down, you sleep better, you feel better when you have oxytocin. Anxiously attached kids, they don’t. Anxiously attached to adults don’t get much oxytocin at all. They don’t have much serotonin because they’re not releasing it in their relationships. Relationships are performative for them. Everything is a performance to try to avoid exposure and abandonment. You don’t have much serotonin, much oxytocin, much GABA.
You also don’t have what’s called vasopressin very much. Vasopressin is a hormone that does a lot of things. Yes, it’s a diuretic for all the nurses and nutritionist people out there. Vasopressin is a big diuretic I believe. But it also, when you overcome stress together as a team, it releases and then associates that ally bond with the other person and feeling safe with them during times of stress. Then helps you prioritize emotional bonding with them as well to keep that teamwork going. So of the big five, vasopressin, oxytocin, serotonin, GABA, all you’ve really got left is dopamine, which is what we’re pumping into kids with those tablets. Endless amounts of dopamine, being interesting, being stimulating. That’s what anxious people have. So they run out there constantly trying to pump other people full of dopamine to feel good, feel good, feel good. Please don’t abandon me. Please don’t see me for who I really am.
Then you’ve got on the other side, avoidant people. Everybody else is the problem. I can never emotionally connect to anybody because everyone is bad. When they’re stressed out, everyone is awful. They make bad choices. I have to stay safe, I have to manage them. I’m not bad, but everybody else is. So I have to protect them and stay safe from them. Some of these people are just nervous and they stay away from people. They don’t manipulate them. Just keep everybody at arm’s length. These are a lot of dads that don’t get emotionally invested with their kids, and their wife is angry at them for not getting emotionally bonded with their children. The dad’s like, “I don’t know how, what are you talking about? That doesn’t happen.”
Then there’s the manipulative guys, the ones who are out there, pick up artists, schmooze them, pump them and dump them kind of thing. Breaking hearts left and right. This is avoidant attachment. They also don’t get all those brain chemicals either. It’s all dopamine for them, which is why we live in a world right now run entirely on dopamine. People don’t even know that oxytocin is out there. The good news is that oxytocin is way more addictive than dopamine, as long as you help people release it the right way through their healthy relationships. So if your guys’ kids are going a little sideways on you, building some better attachment and build better oxytocin can often pull them back.
Brilliant, brilliant. So I want to get into-z
That was a lot. Sorry.
No, look, that’s fine.
There’s a lot to unpack there.
Well, the beauty of that is that people can rewind and pause and play again and do whatever they need to do to figure this out.
I want to get into the definition of a good relationship. But first up, before we do that, I want to talk about raising of children in a different way. I’m coming at this from almost a narcissistic angle in terms of my child is the king or the queen. They can do no wrong. They can only do good. Everything is wonderful. You are the best at everything. If you are into sport and you are hopeless, it doesn’t matter because you are a winner. You are the best. Everyone gets a medal. Now I come at it from old school. I’m old. I’m 51 now, and I’ve come at it-
That’s almost dead. Oh my God.
Exactly right. Granddad Stu. But when I was raised, I was raised in a time of corporal punishment. If you did something wrong, you got a ruler over your knuckles and you got punished. If you weren’t very good at sport, you were told that you are not very good in this and you weren’t picked and you didn’t get a medal and you weren’t the winner. But now everyone’s a winner and there is no wrong. Little Johnny can’t climb trees because it’s dangerous, but it doesn’t matter because he’s still a winner. Can it go the other way in terms of making such a safe and unrealistic environment for our children, that when we release them into the workforce, they think, here I am, I everything that you need me to be. I am the best thing since sliced bread to your business. Look at me, I’m wonderful. Then when reality hits, the fact that you know what, you’re actually not as handy as you think you are because you’ve got all of these issues. While you might think you’re wonderful, you’re not really that much help to us at all. That could be devastating.
Oh, yeah. I’ve heard this argument a lot, that if you give kids too much encouragement in childhood, it can be a disaster. Here’s what I think is actually happening. Here’s what I’ve seen. Is the parents who tend to overwhelm their children with constant, constant, constant flattery and everything, the parents themselves have attachment issues. So it’s not even the complimenting and the kindness and the encouragement that messes the kids up, it’s growing up with parents who have attachment issues. A dad who’s avoidant and mom who overcompensates by smothering the child with constant affection. What that actually creates is attachment issues in the kids.
So here’s what they end up doing is they only do things where they are naturally gifted and they don’t ever learn to lean into anything that’s difficult. So then they hit their twenties and their thirties and they feel like a complete fraud because they can’t learn any new skills. They are petrified of not being good at something the first time they do it, and they have never learned the discipline of practicing a skill. So then at 30, they have some dead end job they hate and their boss can’t stand them because they barely do the job. They’ll only do the parts they’re really good at and they don’t do anything else. They’re wretchedly miserable and crushingly nervous in their life. They have very few good relationships to really account for. They say, I am a fraud who can’t do anything of value and my life has no purpose. That’s what that usually comes from, it’s attachment issues passed on to attachment issues. My parents only praise me because I’m great at things. I must only do things I’m great at.
That’s what I usually end up seeing. Do a few go fully narcissist, unbearable? Maybe, but that’s a whole other kettle fish [inaudible 00:15:41] right here.
Okay. No, that sounds like a fair comment. So then relationships. So what would make a good relationship? Is it normal and important to shout and scream sometimes or should it all be a bed of roses day in day out with love letters and cuddles and kisses?
I think every parent I’ve ever met has made a joke about shock collars at some point and how easy it would be to be able to compel obedience and compliance. But a healthy friendship and a healthy marriage and healthy father/son relationship and a healthy boss/employee relationship, they are all about 90 to 95% the same, with 5% to 10% specifics to that type of relationship. It is being cooperative during conflict. When you have a conflict, do you cooperate to solve it?
I had a person ask me just earlier today, “Hey, I’ve been dating this person for seven months and they keep telling me they are uncomfortable talking about kids. But we’re at seven months. I don’t even know if they want kids. They won’t even talk about it. What does that look like?” I said, “You need to lean into that conversation and tell them it’s important to you, but say, ‘it makes you uncomfortable. Why? Let me help you. How can I help and how can we have this conversation together?'” Cooperate during conflict instead of trying to win, instead of trying to dig, instead of trying to treat the other person like they’re taking away what you want, cooperate with them during conflict. That is number one.
Number two is sharing more context so that people understand where you’re coming from. Hey, here is what I want and here’s why, so that they can say, okay, I can’t do what you want, but that’s the need. Let’s find a different way to meet that need.
Then number three is actually sharing your needs openly and clearly so that all the expectations are fully stated on the table. The best approximation that I can possibly give you is this, treat your relationships with the skills that would be vital if you were to co-found a business with somebody. If it wouldn’t work in a co-founding business situation, if it would bankrupt your business, it will bankrupt your relationship. So, treat your children that way, treat your spouse that way, treat your friends that way. Everything will be pretty good that way.
Yeah. Okay. Interesting. Then let’s talk about a term that I’ve heard you use, and I think particularly from a marriage perspective or a relationship partner perspective, division of labor. I liked that because so many arguments stem from this. You haven’t done this, you haven’t done that, I thought you were doing it. So, tell us a little bit about division of labor, because that can run into so many aspects of our life.
When you were a young, young, young buck and you married your beautiful bride, did you guys have any early disagreements over who was supposed to be doing what? Did you guys talk about it or did you have to fumble through it, like most couples, what was it like for you guys?
No. Yeah, we just fought through it. It invariably ended up with short, sharp words.
Yeah, absolutely. Then over years, you’ve just learned to do those tasks because pain welded you into those… Yeah, that’s most couples. That’s most couples, is we’ll just fight and bang our heads together and figure it out. Imagine if you could sit down with your partner like you were running a business together and say, “Okay, here are all the tasks to be done. What’s a fair way to divvy this up between the two of us? Who’s going to do what and when? And is that fair? Do they need help with that? If they need help, when can they ask? If they need help, is it okay to ask for help?” Imagine running your relationship, your marriage, a little bit more like a business. There is going to be tasks to be done. Couples get into this, and when you had kids, maybe you had this problem, you tell me. But when the baby is born, all of a sudden all those things go flying up in the air and you have to re-figure everything all over again. Right. Was that you guys too?
Oh, 100%. We had twins as well unexpectedly.
Good luck. Yeah.
Exactly. Good luck. Thank you.
Okay. All right. So, probably what happened was all of a sudden there was new tasks that nobody had accounted for yet, and the old tasks were more overwhelming because people were dropping the ball, right?
That’s what leads to a tremendous amount of breakdown in marriages, so that there’s a gigantic spike in affairs the first year after having a baby. It’s really an awful statistic and it shouldn’t be happening to such young families. But there’s a gigantic affair spike that happens in that first even six months sometimes because of that huge breakdown and not just the physical labor in the home, but the emotional connection. The wife is no longer spending time with her husband, she’s so wrapped up in the baby like a snake wrapped around a possum that you can’t separate them. The husband says, all right, I guess I’m going to be a monk over here in the corner for three years. She totally forgets and doesn’t even pull in. The husband has so many new duties on his plate, he doesn’t know how to ask for help, and the mom has such an overwhelming number of new things on her plate and she doesn’t think she’s allowed to ask anybody.
So, imagine if you could just sit down and say, “Hey, look, all these things are going to pile up on us. Can we at least get ahead of them a little bit and figure it out for the first month or two after the baby’s born?” Then once the baby’s born, for a month or two, you sit down once a month or once a week and you have a meeting about it and say, “Hey, look, where are you overwhelmed? Can we help? What can we do? Do we need to get your mom in to help? Can my mom come over and help? What can we do to divide this labor and take care of it and account for it during this difficult time like a business?” Imagine how easy that would’ve been for you guys. Would that have been a little easier than try to bang through it?
Absolutely. Ultimately, I think it comes down to communication, and that’s the missing link, because it doesn’t matter what I think my wife or child might be thinking, I don’t know that for sure because I haven’t asked them.
I love that. That’s secure attachment. You just demonstrated secure attachment. I can’t figure out what they’re thinking unless I ask them, so I should just go ask them. That’s secure attachment. If I took an anxiously attached person or an avoidantly attached person and said, “You don’t know what your wife is thinking, just go ask her,” It will feel like sandpaper on raw flesh for them to think about going and asking because they don’t think they’re allowed to. Because probably when they were a kid, they asked a couple questions and they kept getting screamed at for asking so many questions. So they shut down and they learned they had to anticipate other people’s moods, anticipate how to get their needs met, and anticipate everything to stay safe and not get hurt again. So you demonstrate secure attachment, which I think kudos to you. You’re in the top 35%. Most people listening to this probably are hearing us talk about, well, I would love to communicate, but I just can’t. I have panic attacks, I’m afraid all the time. That’s the attachment piece right there, getting in the way of communication.
Interesting, interesting. So in terms of communication, the last three years with all of the craziness going on around the globe has really divided us and separated us from friends and family and doing what we need to do perhaps just to get through life. It’s pushed us into more of a realm of digital communication, whether we’re sitting in a Zoom call or just texting, mobile phone, WhatsApp groups, all of these things. How important are physical friend group meetups in the age of this kind of digital lunacy?
Imagine a dude sitting alone in his room and he’s getting all these text messages from friends telling him how much they care about him. He’s depressed, he opened up, but he’s just getting words on a screen. Maybe he gets a voice message, an emoji of someone hugging him. But he’s just sitting there alone on his floor. Yes, it is good to know you are loved, but we are very physical creatures. Physical contact releases so many hormones and so much connection. A hand on the shoulder when you’re sad, a hug. There’s men in this world, I don’t know how it is in Australia if you guys hug all the time or not, but over here in America, the saying goes that most men remember the last hug they had, and it was 10 years ago.
That’s most adult men over here in the west. If you don’t have a wife, you probably haven’t had a hug. If you have a wife, you might not even remember when she hugged you last over here. Most guys, your mom hugs you when you’re eight years old, maybe 10 years old, and then it shuts off. The faucet turns off. So it is enormously important to have in-person meetings, to breathe the same air, to look in each other’s eyes, the nonverbal cues as you look across at the other person and you make those connections. It’s enormously important to be able to have those pieces and to just be humans together, instead of being a disembodied spirit among a world of disembodied spirits that are connected through an internet. Not putting down digital relationships. They can be amazing, but you’ve also got to have those physical components or you’re going to die.
It’s interesting. Every so often I attend, it’s called a men’s circle, and it’s a big group. It’s a group event where we go through and we do a big workout and then we might have a barbecue, and then we sit down around in a circle and just talk about what are you grateful for? What are you struggling with? You realize that the majority of people are going through the same kind of stuff, but you would never know. From a day-to-day perspective, you’d just never know. But I sit down in this men’s circle and it’s like, oh, you’re going through exactly what I’m going through. Then you just talk about that and progress. It just comes down, I think, just to communication. Well, at a very base level, if you can talk about it and understand it and perhaps think about ways to approach whatever the problem might be, then it’s probably a good place to start, I would imagine.
Do you know what I love about that, is the male brain, it’s like a network of data nodes, billions of data nodes all over the earth that are meant to plug into each other and share data about solutions to problems. That’s what we’re meant to do. When we scatter, we are each an individual data node with no prior information that has to relearn everything. You have to relearn that fire is hot. You have to relearn how to use a spoon. The more plugged in you are to a healthy data network, the more data you’re going to pull in. So you can go to those things, that’s fantastic, and you plug in and say, “I’m having a problem. Does anyone else have a solution around this table?” “I do here.” Throw the information at you. You plug it in, you download it, and all of a sudden you can solve it.
It’s amazing. That’s how the male brain is supposed to work, is sharing data solutions and solution data like that. The attachment issues, most guys are out there saying, no one will ever want to connect with me, I can never talk about what’s wrong. There are no solutions, there is no hope. I am lonely, I am miserable, and no one will ever want to help me and I don’t even deserve help. That’s what men are wandering around this with. If you would just click into a couple of data nodes, you would’ve so much information. One guy doubles your info load. At your circle, how many guys go to that kind of experience with you?
There might be 15 people in a circle.
Imagine going to a place where you can get 14 lifetimes of additional information on solutions that you haven’t even faced yet and say, “Hey, here’s my problems. Have any of you 14 people experienced this even once? What did you do so I can fix it too?” Imagine that power. That’s what that is. That’s amazing that you’re doing that. How do the other guys respond there? Do they lean into it? Do they enjoy it? Are they all silent? You have to be the only one speaking? What’s it like?
No, they’re all there I guess because they’ve got this way of thinking that I want to optimize myself and I want to push through and create new boundaries and just become a better person. They’re all into it. They’re all into it. So, there’s a lot of encouragement. But it’s funny because there is also a women’s circle. I have been told that the two are so very different because in the female circle, if there’s a problem, the solution starts with a hug. Whereas in the male circle, when there’s a problem, the solution starts with the offering of solutions.
That’s exactly it. That’s it. Yeah. That’s male and female brains right there. We are so different. That is awesome. Now, do you know why that is?
No. Tell me.
So the male brain, it goes back to observe and forward to act upon, back to observe, forward to act. So we just need a solution. You plug it in. Men, our communication evolved where if you and I are out in the wilderness hunting a mammoth, we don’t have time to say, “I really feel like I’m so scared that that mammoth is running at us right now.” “Well, I know I am too. What do you think? How would it make you feel if you went that direction? I’ll go this direction? I know it’s going to be sad to split up, but that’s okay. We can come back together afterward.” “Okay, let’s do that.” We hug and then we step… No, the mammoth will trample and kill you. So we have learned you go that way immediately. Okay, I’ll go this way. That’s it. We do that. Hey, this guy’s going to kill us. All right, I’ll kill him. It’s fast, instant communication.
We value sharing of data. So when a problem arises, we share solutions as fast as possible. That’s actually how we show love is by sharing the data solutions and it’s taking the time to explain it. Women, they didn’t face a stampeding mammoth most of the time. Their difficulty was maintaining harmony within the system to maximize the chances of families staying together, of kids thriving, of sharing of resources. So their brains, you got the logical brain and the emotional brain, their brain said, there’s a problem. Decrease the emotional agitation on the emotional brain, release oxytocin and bond, everybody’s stress level comes down, and now our logic goes hi, and we feel safe solving problems together. So, now we are going to talk about what people actually need to solve it, and it will be so harmonious, it will bond through the experience, and that’s their brain.
So then your wife will come home and say, “Let me tell you about my day. I ate some toast and I had my shoes and they were this color, and then I got to work, and then this was on my desk.” You’re like… And the male brain is looking for a solution, looking for a problem. Why is she telling me this? What does she want from me? What is she trying to solve? She’ll start complaining about her work enemy like every woman has. You’re like, an enemy, I can understand that. Then she’ll explain a problem and we go, “Wait, say no more. I have your solution.” We throw the solution at her, and what we’ve done is shut her off mid-sharing, and the message we’ve sent is not, you are valuable to me, let me save your time. Here’s your solution. Isn’t this amazing? The message we’ve sent is, you are not worthy of my time or my attention. Take this and please go away. You’re wasting my time. I have things more important than you.
So the best thing a man can learn to do when a woman is talking about her toast and her shoes and her day and her hair is say, “Sweetheart, I want to give you everything you need really quick. So are you looking for me to solve something for you or are you wanting to share this with me? Either way is totally cool.” Do not say, “Do you just want to share it with me?” Don’t minimize it. Do you want a solution or do you want to share this with me? She will, nine times out of ten, say, “I want to share this with you.” Great. You pull out a tub of popcorn, you start eating it. You say, “Wow, that’s amazing. Tell me about that more in more detail. She said that? No. Whoa.” You go into it and you’re bonding with her.
Here’s the male brain part. The problem she wants you to solve is not what she’s talking about. The problem is that she wants to feel closer to you by sharing. The solution is to share with her and help her feel closer to you. There’s the male click in right there. You guys, I just solved 90% of marriage challenges right there.
I was going to say, you have just solved a lot of issues because that’s exactly how it works. The guy doesn’t listen. The guy just says, “I can fix that.” The woman says, “I don’t even want it fixed. That’s not the point. Why aren’t you listening to me? You never listen to me.”
It’s like, watch out for that stampeding apple tree over there. She’s like, what? That’s what she is hearing. Slow down. Share with her. Talk with her. Wives at home, please throw your husband a bone. If you want to bond with him, tell him at the beginning of the story, “Hey, can I just share my day with you? I don’t need a solution, I just want to share it with you.” Sure. He can sit back and listen. You’ve already primed him for what you want. So then you can start talking and sharing. Then he knows I’ll listen. She wants to share, okay. That’s it. If both sides, either side could specify, like you, Stu earlier said, so, so wonderfully. I don’t know what they’re thinking, I’d better ask them. Both sides should do it.
That’s excellent. I guess from the female perspective, if you want to bond and get even closer with your husband, just ask them to fix something for you.
Vasopressin bonding, men have more receptors for it than women do. So who knew, men are goal-oriented? Who knew, men love solving problems? Don’t even have him solve it for you. Yes. But have him solve it with you. Solve some stress together, so his brain doesn’t say I did something for her now to deposit sex. His brain will say, we did this together. Put together a bookshelf, build something in the house, repair something, do a jigsaw puzzle. Go camping together, pick out a new restaurant and go have an experience. Have a little bit of stress, and then resolve it together as a team. Do something. Mark the milestones. High five afterward, and he will bond to you like human super glue.
Then that opens the pathway that says, we are allies now. Prioritize oxytocin bonding. So then he will want to be more affectionate, more handholding, more foreplay, more everything starts flowing from that because he’s bonded to you and his brain says, she’s too valuable to let get away. I better make sure this woman’s happy. If you want more out of your husband, you want him to emotionally invest like that, please vasopressin bond with him.
That’s brilliant. Wow. Boy oh boy, I love it. It’s the code. It’s like the matrix behind everyday life.
People say all the time, “Women are so complicated, men are so complicated.” No, we just have different buttons. You just learn where the buttons are and then you just push them when you want them and it works great.
It’s just a different wiring diagram in the background. I love it. I love it.
I’m interested to know your thoughts on resentment. I hear this a lot, and have experienced it personally myself many times as well, whether it be family, business, friends, whatever. Resentment can boil and bubble and just erupt in the background, I’m assuming without me even realizing that it’s becoming a problem. It can impact sleep, it can impact relationships and mood and everything that we’ve been speaking about. How do we best deal with resentment at a very base level?
Resentment comes from two places. One is people continuously violating your boundaries and you don’t do anything about it either because you can’t or because you’re refusing to, because you won’t take assertiveness. It’s either their fault or your fault. The other place is from unstated expectations that you feel you have earned, but the other person has no idea which is happening, which is your fault. So if you are with somebody and they are constantly trampling your boundaries and you never speak up about it, you will develop a lot of resentment toward them over time. But that is your fault for doing that. Are they clumsy? Are they foolish? Very possibly. Are they asking a lot? Quite possibly. Are they to blame for some of it? Probably. But if you never apply your boundaries properly and explain to them what’s happening and why, then it is your fault for that. The resentment that’s building up is because you haven’t spoken up. That happens a lot with attachment issues.
If the problem is that you have spoken about your boundaries and they continuously trample them, it means that they don’t actually care about you. They care about their convenience. You are an object in their life, meant to give them pleasure, and that is all that you are to them. You mean less to them than convenience or less to them than their own pleasure and joy. That’s what that means. So, resentment is a natural response in that regard. Are you to blame for not getting away from them? Depends on the situation.
The third one, unstated expectations. This is big for attachment. I have done five things for you and you are supposed to read my mind and do one nice thing for me. Anxiously attached people will often do this. I will do everything for approval and to please you. But then over time, he’s done 10 nice things for her, he deserves sex. She should leap on me at the door and deliver sex, and it’s not happening. Why isn’t it happening? The first few times he’ll blame himself and he’ll keep doing what we call chore play. I’ll do the dishes, I’ll clear the furniture, I’ll vacuum now, she will have sex with me. Probably not. That’s not how that works.
It’s making your expectations and desires very, very clear and seeing what the other person does about them. Do they care about you to meet your clear expectations and desires? If you’re not being clear, it’s your fault. If you are being clear and they don’t care, then you need to do something about it. That’s where resentment comes from. Is that resonating for you? I’ll put you on the hot seat a little bit. Which one is it for you? Is it not being clear or is it other people trampling you?
It would be not being clear every time, like every time.
That’s most people.
Yeah. As we mentioned before, it feeds into communication. At the end of the day, we’re not communicating enough.
If you ever resentful, do this. Stop, go to someone and say, “Hey, look, I have a bit of a problem I need some help with. I’ve been pretty foolish then I haven’t been clear with you about what I need, and so this is what I need. How can we make that happen?” You’re offering them a trade. You’re offering them options. If it’s sex, “Hey wife, it’s been a few days and how can we make this happen?” She could say, “Well, I need to go on a date with you so I feel close, and then we’ll both have a great time.” Fantastic. “I’ve been foolish. I haven’t told you what I need. Here’s what I need. How can we make this happen?” If you’re ever resentful, again, go to someone and do that. If they say, “I don’t care, that’s your problem.” Well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
Right. It makes perfect sense. Again, communication, logic in there, there’s rationale. Why wouldn’t we at least allow the other person to be on the same playing field with the knowledge of what I’m feeling?
You would think. One thing that I hear a lot of women say, one objection, is, “If I just tell him what I want, he’s only doing it because I said, I want it.” Well, yes, he’s doing it because he loves you and he’s doing it because he’s now aware of your need. What they’re wanting is this. That is usually women with attachment issues who don’t understand how important it is to be trustworthy in your relationship and be clear about what you need. So what they do is they are hoping he has high enough oxytocin in his brain to create spontaneous affection outbursts from him, which is what they want. It’s what happens when a mom kisses her baby’s face. She’s overwhelmed with oxytocin and adoration and kisses her baby. She wants that effect from the dad or the husband or boyfriend or whoever because he has so much oxytocin for me. He just feels like loving me. So they say, if I share my needs with you, you aren’t doing them because you’re overwhelmed with oxytocin, you’re doing them because it’s what I said I want, and they think they’re missing out on something.
In reality, what you’re doing is opening the door to share needs with each other very clearly, and then to build oxytocin so that down the road he will start doing spontaneous displays. But you have to start by telling him how to even begin that process with you. Don’t worry about him doing it because you told him to. He’s doing it because he loves you and you’ve made it clear to him. Look for spontaneous affection down the road after that.
Brilliant. Boy oh boy. Yeah, I love unpicking this program. It’s fantastic. Fascinating just to read between the lines and realize that actually the wiring diagram isn’t that complex. It’s pretty simple.
It really is. Once you really learn how it works and you see the buttons behind the curtain, it’s pretty solid.
That’s it. So lots of issues in many people’s lives, anxious, anxiety, fearful, unsure of where to turn to produce a better outcome for whatever the goal may be. You’ve written a book, Slaying Your Fear. I haven’t read that book, in all honesty, I haven’t read it. But I’ve read lots of reviews and I’ve spoken to lots of people that have read it, and I’ve dug dug into a lot of the comments and the guts behind the book. What could we expect from that book? If somebody is wanting to improve their life, lifestyle relationships and realize that there’s something like part of the circuitry perhaps is broken, and they think that you are the man to help fix that issue.
Good call. Listen, I wrote Slaying Your Fear about five years ago when I was a licensed marriage and family therapist before I retired to do coaching, and it’s only 100 pages. I wrote it based on my own model of fixing my attachment, and I wrote it to be something I could hand out to patients who walked into my office and I said, “Look, you’ve got major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but the real problem is this thing underneath. No one else is going to teach about it. Most therapists don’t know about it. Here’s a 100-page book. Please read through this. It’s really fast and you’ll know everything you need to know about what we’re going to do to fix this.” I would send them home with a copy and they would come back raving about it with a completely dogeared copy, every page highlighted, saying, “This made so much sense.”
The first quarter of the book is, what is attachment? It’s in very simple language. It’s not technical jargon. What is attachment? How does it get broken? Second section is, how do you recognize bad attachment in yourself, and how can you see that it is really taking over your life? Where should you look at? These are the clear signs. The second half of the book is fix it, fix it, fix it, fix it. It’s multiple chapters laid out, step-by-step process for how to go about fixing your attachment issues. If you grabbed this book, you could fix your attachment issues all on your own over time. That’s what Slaying Your Fear is to do. 100 pages, no technical jargon.
Brilliant, fantastic. I guess nobody wants the 800-page tiny word Bible.
They’re amazing. I’ve got them up here on my bookshelf. I’ve gone through them, I’ve done the research papers. I’ve done all of that. 100 pages so that people can rock it through it in a night if they want to.
Yeah. That’s brilliant. So would you recommend that that would be a good place to start in terms of wanting to understand and dive into this attachment? What would you recommend for people that say, “I think I might have an issue, but I need some help, where do I go?”
Yeah, absolutely. Slaying Your Fear on Amazon is a great place to go. I know I get so many orders in from Australia all the time. I get orders from all over the world. So, Slaying Your Fear is available on Amazon. I also have on my YouTube channel, over 400 video guides on my YouTube channel, as Adam Lane Smith. That’s Lane as in road, L-A-N-E. I’ve got 400 free guides for you on YouTube. If those all hit, I’ve got a video course, I’ve got coaching, I’ve got a private community. I’ve got my website, adamlanesmith.com. I have so many resources. If it all fails you and you can’t figure out if you have attachment issues, most people by now in this episode probably know if they do, shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an email, I will talk to you and tell you if you do or not. I have a guide that I can walk you through. I have a couple of questions usually, should be pretty quick.
Okay, that’s fantastic. Well, we’ll put all those links that you’ve spoken about in the show notes. So, we’re coming up on time. Got a question just to lead us through to the end of the show, and it’s really, what are the heavy hitters in terms of maybe top three tips, top best pieces of advice that you could give that would make the biggest impact on our relationship? I know that’s a pretty broad question, but I’m wondering whether there’s some low hanging fruit that we can address.
Absolutely, absolutely. So the first step to fixing your attachment is also the first step to making sure that you’re comfortable with yourself, you have self-respect and you can build boundaries, which is identify your core values or principles, or whatever you want to call them, the core moral virtues that you want to live by. For me, it’s honesty, integrity, and compassion. Do those three things and I can live my life. It’s my honor code. Identify your core honor code that you may shove aside for the sake of making other people approve of you, but identify it and then start living to it every day. Number one. That’s number one. Identify who you really are on the inside that way.
Number two, identify your mission in life and your purpose. What is it? What drives you? Besides fear and pain, what drives you to live in this world?
Number three, start sharing that with the people around you because you can unify around that. People can respect you for your values, they can trust you because of them. They can join you on that mission. If you’re married, your partner can join you in creating something together. You become so understandable in your relationships when you have this, so people can know you because that’s who you are is your values and your mission. That’s really all you are. When it boils down to the end of the day, the choices that you make in pursuit of your mission and your values or the choices that you make away from your mission and your values. If you follow that pathway, your relationship with yourself and with other people will become much, much clearer.
That makes perfect sense. That’s brilliant. From that perspective, you’ll know whether people align with your mission because you know what your mission is and they’re either going to support that or they’re just not. They’re not going to be the person for you, and you don’t want them in your life as much as perhaps they should or could be. No, I like it.
As simple as you dragging me here on this wonderful podcast, because good attachment aligned with great overall human health, with your mission. Our missions aligned for this. So you pulled me on, and I’m so glad you did because I get to be called mate multiple times here, and it’s a wonderful show. But our missions aligned, so we had this conversation. If we didn’t know our missions, you and I would never have spoken on these different continents.
Absolutely right. Love it. Fantastic. Well, all thank you, mate. It’s been great. Just one more time for everybody that wants to know much more about attachment theory, they’re interested in you, your videos, your books, just the link that we can send them to.
Sure, adamlanesmith.com, my website. That’d be the best place to start. Everything’s there and I’ll greet you.
Brilliant. Okay. We’ll send that to our tribe and hopefully send some people your way and try and make the world a better place. But I really appreciate this talk today. Thank you so much.
I appreciate you. Thank you.
Thank you. Bye-bye. Wow.