When you stop and reflect on the relationships you’ve had, perhaps you notice some consistent patterns in the way you relate to others. Maybe it has been shutting down when things start becoming serious, as you’re afraid of truly trusting someone.
Or perhaps past relationships have not worked out due to your own fears and insecurities which may have caused you to act out in ways that ultimately harmed the connection. It is possible that attachment wounding is at play in your patterns of behavior when it comes to love and intimacy.
In this article, we will take a look at the basics of attachment theory, and discuss practical strategies for beginning to heal your attachment wounds so you can move towards more fulfilling relationships.
What is Attachment Theory?
Attachment theory posits that our early life experiences shape our belief about relationships, which continues to persist into adulthood. If we had a caregiver that was consistently attuned and responsive to our needs in childhood, we likely developed what is known as secure attachment.
People with a secure attachment style tend to feel comfortable with both intimacy and autonomy within a close relationship.
On the other hand, if our caregiver was absent, preoccupied, or otherwise inconsistent, it is possible that we developed an insecure attachment style. The three types of insecure attachment are anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and disorganized attachment.
Individuals with an anxious attachment style often experience intense fears of abandonment that may lead them to seek frequent reassurance or exhibit behavior that may be perceived as ‘clingy’ by others.
Someone with an avoidant attachment style has generally internalized that they can’t rely on others to meet their needs, therefore they tend to be self-sufficient and emotionally distant.
Lastly, disorganized attachment describes someone who desires connection, but is deeply fearful of it at the same time. Individuals with a disorganized attachment style commonly experienced a chaotic upbringing where the responses of a caregiver were highly unpredictable.
For more articles and information about attachment, click here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/attachment/.
How to Begin Healing Your Attachment Wounds
1. Separate the past from the present
Diane Poole Heller, a leading expert in attachment theory, emphasizes the importance of going back to a childhood memory and allowing the body to complete the stress response cycle.
For example, this might look like imagining yourself running away when confronted with scary or distressing behavior from a parent, like yelling. This allows your body to move through this experience, recognize that it is over, and move back towards a place of rest and safety.
2. Be willing to accept discomfort
The process of working with your attachment wounds is likely going to be uncomfortable and trigger some challenging emotions. Allow yourself to lean into whatever emotions come up for you whether it’s anger, sadness, fear, vulnerability, etc.
Doing this work challenges deeply rooted beliefs about your worthiness for love and connection. Be kind and gentle with yourself in this process.
3. Practice re-parenting techniques
Re-parenting is essentially giving ourselves what we didn’t get in childhood. When we feel triggered or dysregulated, we can turn towards ourselves with kindness and understanding, and engage in self-soothing techniques.
You might consider connecting with a mental health professional who can also assist you with processing your attachment wounds and developing skills for reparenting.
4. Implement routines that support secure attachment
Whether with a partner or close friend, there are ways that you can practice skills for secure attachment.
One way to do this is by incorporating rituals of connection into your daily or weekly routine. This can help to generate consistency and safety within your connection.