Early childhood experiences shape your personality. Based on Attachment Theory, an area in psychology that describes how we relate to others, attachment is formed in childhood and influences your relationships throughout life.
It’s the reason why some people are aloof while others are clingy. Because the nature of the attachment to your parents impacts every area of your life.
Attachment is the lens through which we view the world and live life. But you don’t have to be a victim of your past. You can develop secure attachment as an adult.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to change your attachment style.
Explore Your Relationship Patterns
Attachment styles are how we interact with people. In early childhood, it refers to the interaction style between a child and parent. Later in life, attachment styles determine how you attach to others in romantic relationships, as a parent, or a friend.
A good start in identifying your style would be to explore the relationship you had with your parents as a child. Were they negligent or reliable? Who did you go to for comfort and support?
Assessing your past will give insight into patterns in how you choose romantic partners.
Today, psychologists have identified four main types of attachment styles, which include:
· People with secure attachment are able to draw clear boundaries in their relationships.
· They are comfortable being alone and independent.
· They seek and maintain close, stable relationships.
· They had their needs met as children and felt safe and cared for.
· These are people who crave intimacy and can never get enough closeness.
· They have a hard time communicating their needs directly.
· They seek security from their partner but will push him/her away.
· Their caregivers were inconsistent in attending to their needs.
· This group has a strong sense of independence and are extremely self-directed.
· Their caregivers were most likely distant. As a result, they become self-reliant, not wanting to rely on people who will disappoint them.
· They fear abandonment and have low self-esteem.
· Their caregivers were emotionally unavailable and became more distant when the child displayed emotions.
· These folks are unable to regulate emotions.
· They have a deep fear of abandonment and rejection.
· They show contradictory behaviors in relationships: “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”.
· Their caregivers were inconsistent in responding to their feelings of fear or distress.
Once you identify relationship patterns from childhood, you can begin to heal.
Invest in Yourself
While external influences such as friends and family are important, perhaps the most critical player in this process is yourself.
Self-esteem plays a role in all attachment styles. When you value yourself, you’re able to accept love from others. But if you were mistreated or dismissed as a child, you can’t fathom what self-love is.
To heal, you can start with self-tolerance. Don’t force affirmations on yourself like, “I’m beautiful.” Instead say, “everyone, deserves to be valued.”
Deciding to prioritize your mental health is one of the most important steps you can make in your life. You won’t regret it.
Establish Long-Term Relationships
Research has shown that relationship patterns are highly adaptable. So, an important component of creating secure attachments is to seek relationships with those who are supportive of your growth.
Establish relationships with those who have a better attachment style than your own. Then practice becoming aware of your avoidant or anxious behaviors in a safe environment. By spending time with people who model healthy relationships, you will soon adopt their behaviors.
A therapist can also help you on your journey.
Therapy, in itself, is a form of secure attachment. It allows you to create a bond that replicates other relationships in your life. Apart from that, quality therapy enables you to process information to help make sense of your narrative. You learn to use your past as a way forward, and you challenge your inner voice. With time, you will begin to develop a secure attachment.
Even if your attachment style is the blueprint for intimate relationships, you haven’t written your future yet. You can still change and become more securely attached.