What does it mean to be known? Attachment, in the field of psychology, is defined as “an emotional bond with another person.” When we are young, our first important relationships are formed with our caregivers. We expect to be known by them, to be cared for and loved. This creates our first sense of attachment. When this sense of attachment is broken, so is our sense of safety and security. As we grow, we then form other attachments – whether healthy or unhealthy – with friends, teachers, co-workers, romantic partners, etc.
Learning to build healthy attachments, where we can be fully known and where we can experience true safety and security, helps us discover our truest, most authentic self. It can heal parts of us that have been hidden from others (and even ourselves) for far too long. Moving toward healthy attachments is moving toward health and being known.
Practical Steps Toward Being Known
A willingness to be vulnerable and to engage are two of the first, most fundamental steps you can take today toward being known, both by yourself and by others.
Willingness to be Vulnerable
When you are uncomfortable or distraught do you offer yourself care, comfort, and kindness? Or do you judge yourself for having these feelings? Being gracious with yourself – being kind and gentle toward yourself – makes it easier to be this way with others. Not to mention this is how God sees us and how He wants us to see ourselves.
When others are distressed around you, how do you respond? Do you respond with care, comfort and kindness? Are you “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger”? (James 1:19). Or are you quick to judge? When we are a soft place to land, others are more likely to be drawn in to us and the path to vulnerability becomes a two way street.
Willingness to Engage
In order to build healthy attachments, we have to be willing to engage with others, even at the risk of revealing the hidden parts of ourselves. Engagement looks like genuine, intentional interest in another person. Galatians 6:2 is a clear picture of engagement: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Both engagement and vulnerability can only take place in the context of community. The risk may be high, but the reward of engagement is so much higher.
We are called to cultivate attachment with others as God’s representatives on earth. It’s a practical form of living out the gospel. When we are willing to move toward healing, we open the door to building strong, healthy attachments, to knowing ourselves, to being known by others, and ultimately to experiencing God in a more profound and intimate way. What a gift that is.