Moving from an insecure to a secure attachment is like removing the leaves off an artichoke; enjoying each piece, until you get to the heart, which is the best part.
Knowing your attachment style helps you understand how you interact with others and your potential triggers, and what you might want to work on to enhance your relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and intimate partners. This awareness can help you start to make small changes that will lead to a stronger sense of self and meaningful connections with others.
Attachment Styles 101:
There are four attachment styles:
- Disorganized/Fearful Avoidant
Which attachment style do you relate with the most?
Preoccupied/Anxious: Overthink things, ruminates, worries
In relationships: You tend to second-guess yourself and thinking about the “other” person before you think about yourself. Maybe you create endless storylines in your head based off your assumptions of what others are thinking or doing that often ends up increasing your anxiety. Additionally, you have an intense need or desire to receive love and acceptance from others.
“Why isn’t he/she returning my call?”
“Did I say something wrong?”
Preoccupied/Anxious to Secure Exercise: Put the focus back on yourself. Practice mentally going inward and, when you find yourself ruminating or fearful, try not to be self-critical or judgmental. Gently move the focus onto yourself. Tools you can use to help: Journaling, guided meditation, mindfulness breathing, and self-care (sleeping, eating, exercise).
In relationships: You are self-sufficient to the point that you push people away. Have little trust in others; I’m okay but you are not. Perhaps you want closeness but you will actively disengage from real attachment. Additionally, you could be dissatisfied in relationships because you are uncomfortable with closeness.
“Why is she/he so needy?”
“What can you do for me?”
Dismissive/Avoidant to Secure Exercise: Awareness of how and why you avoid or disengage from closeness is an important first step. Take time for self-compassion. What does it mean to be vulnerable? How does it feel in your body and where do you feel it? Practicing small steps inviting and allowing closeness. Start becoming familiar with taking up space in an uncomfortable place. Afterward, reflect on the experience and sensations of feeling connected.
Disorganized/Fearful Avoidant: Independent, appears to have it all together
In relationships: You run hot and cold between being needy and distant. Maybe you want closeness but disassociate or check out when things get too close. The longing for a relationship could be there but you are unable to sustain one. A common pattern could be inconsistency.
“One day I want to be close and the next I want out. I’m so confused.”
Disorganized/Fearful avoidant to Secure Exercise: Understand your story and why you crave and fear closeness. Become curious about what triggers the need to push or pull away. Keep a diary of when you want closeness and when you pull away so you can see your pattern of behavior with more clarity and understanding.
Secure: Mutual respect, values, boundaries
In relationships: You communicate your needs, express your boundaries and aren’t afraid to leave unhealthy relationships.
Once you’ve identified your attachment style or attachment styles (it is possible to have more than one), you may start to recognize some patterns in your relationships. It’s helpful to work with a therapist to help facilitate your awareness since we often can’t see our own blind spots.
If you have any questions or would like more information concerning attachment styles you can reach me at Hilary@millenniumhope.com.
- “Attached” by Amir Levine