Attachment has become one of the trendiest buzzwords in the mental health space, and for a good reason. Your attachment style plays a pivotal role in how you connect and trust others. It also acts as a foundation for how safe you feel in your relationships.
Insecure attachment can result in excessive feelings of jealousy, loneliness, and anxiety. These feelings can trigger unhealthy behaviors like clinginess, withdrawal, lying, or infidelity. Over time, attachment problems can erode your relationships.
Overcoming insecure attachment isn't easy. You will need to practice new behaviors and change how you cope when you feel stressed. However, you can learn how to be more comfortable and intimate with others. Here's what you need to know.
Recognize Your Attachment Triggers
Research shows that our attachment styles start forming in intimacy. Think about it- babies are born completely helpless and dependent on their caregivers. They literally cannot function without adults taking care of their needs.
An attentive caregiver helps the baby feel loved and supported. This caregiver attunes to the baby's needs and strives to provide a safe environment for them. Children living in this environment often grow up feeling nurtured. They trust that the world is generally safe, and they tend to also have healthy self-esteem.
However, inattentive, distracted, or unfit caregivers can provide the opposite effect. When a caregiver cannot address a baby's needs effectively, that child may grow up feeling neglected or unimportant. They may struggle to trust that anyone is there for them. As a result, they may feel more anxious, depressed, or insecure.
In knowing all of this, it's important that you begin identifying your attachment triggers. When, for example, do you feel most incompetent or disconnected from others? What kinds of people make you doubt yourself? When you feel hurt, how do you typically respond?
Knowing these patterns can be painful. You might find yourself feeling upset with your caregivers or angry about certain events that happened in your childhood. However, having this insight- and being mindful of how certain trends play out in your current relationships- can give you the initiative to make needed changes.
Practice Communicating Your Needs
We aren't meant to navigate the world alone. Overcoming insecure attachment often comes down to being more mindful of what you need from others.
Communicating your needs can help reduce excess anxiety and projection in relationships. When you're assertive, you showcase confidence. You exhibit a sense of clarity about what you want.
At the same time, it's also important that you're receptive to other people's needs. If you consistently dismiss, avoid, or shame others, you risk alienating yourself. Nobody wants to be close to someone who makes them feel bad about themselves.
Connect With People Who Have Secure Attachment Styles
We can heal attachment wounds through our relationships with others. For example, if you spend your time with healthy, confident people who take good care of themselves, their positive habits will likely rub off on you.
It's important to remember that insecure attachment styles are often drawn to each other. That explains why you may have a history of volatile or unsatisfying relationships. You may be subconsciously picking people who will reinforce the wounds you've experienced in the past.
Healthy relationships may feel intimidating at first. For example, you might not be used to interpersonal boundaries or assertiveness. You may feel threatened by someone who is independent, confident, or self-assured. But try to stick with those dynamics- that's where the growth happens.
Consider Opposite Actions
How do you usually respond when you feel rejected by someone? Do you lash out? Withdraw and silently seethe? Plot revenge?
Instead of continuing to act on auto-pilot, changing your attachment style means being conscious of your behaviors and changing them in real-time. For many people, this means acting differently than they normally would. Doing so may feel awkward at first, but continued practice will make the new patterns stick.
Try to imagine how confident, secure people would act in a given situation. This visualization technique can help you make positive choices. Over time, even small changes can yield significant results.
Seek Professional Support
Your attachment style isn't your fault. You've learned how to behave through years of learned experience. Your mind and body are in self-preservation mode, and they are only trying to keep you safe from future harm.
Overcoming insecure attachment takes time, effort, and patience. You won't change overnight, and you can't depend on a single person to "fix" how you cope.
That said, therapy can be a stepping stone for working through some of the traumas or negative messages reinforcing how you attach to others. In addition, it offers a safe place for self-exploration and emotional expression.
At The Mental Health House, we are here to help you overcome your relationship challenges. Contact us today to learn more!