Insecure Attachments: Yes, how our parents treated us MATTERS
You don't want to blame your parents. You think everyone should own their actions and behaviors and emotions and thoughts.
I understand the revulsion to either over-blame others, or over-blame ourselves. It can be hard to find the right balance of responsibility, especially when we're feeling angry, hurt, alone, confused.
I'd like to tweak that word blame. To finding a greater understanding of why we are the way are because of important things like who are parents are, how they treated us, and what our family was like. Understanding is important.
What is Attachment and Why Does It Matter?
Humans are biologically designed to need care, love, comfort, soothing and safety. This is especially true for young children.
Without these 5 things, children have trauma responses in their brains.
Sometimes this trauma processes through, some children are more resilient than others, and they are less affected as older children and adults. Other times, the trauma stays stuck in our brains and influences the way, we as adults, have relationships and react to circumstances.
A securely attached child gets care, love, comfort, soothing and safety. They feel seen and that they matter.
Securely attached children often grow up to be securely attached adults, having more resilience to difficult times, happier and longer relationships, and responding more thoughtfully and with calmness when stressed.
Securely Attached Adults:
does not take criticism or rejection personally
able to regulate emotions and respond instead of reacting
seeks support when stressed
trusts in safe relationships
has high resilience when hurt
often chooses safe, compatible, trustworthy partners/friendships
So what if we don't get those things as a child? Doesn't that just make me stronger? Secure attachment sounds like coddling and entitlement ...
I hear you. It has often been ingrained in us that through adversity, we gain strength. And while that is true technically, it has nothing to do with trauma, emotions and our ability to having happy, long lasting relationships.
The three insecure attachment styles are:
Avoidant - emotionally distant, aloof, indifferent
Anxious - constantly seeking emotional closeness, clingy, dependent
Disorganized - craves closeness then retreats when close, hot and cold
An Avoidant Attached Adult:
appears aloof or indifferent around emotion
feels emotionally unavailable as a partner
withdraws from others and isolates, when distressed,
shuts down emotionally
can use thoughts and logic to avoid emotion
only trust themselves
fear of intimacy
An Anxious Attached Adult:
clingy, shows abundance of need
emotionally overwhelms partners/friends
often the pursuer in relationships
floods with emotion in distress
look outwardly to feel "complete"
overly trusting over others
fear of abandonment
A Disorganized Attached Adult:
pursues a partner, then retreats
fear of being too close and too distant from others
appears confident, but has a fragile sense of self
does not take criticism well
try to avoid feelings/withdraw, but end up spewing them all out when in distress
fear of abandonment and intimacy
Can I Change My Attachment Style?
Attachment styles are important to understand, but they are not a death sentence.
Two ways of changing your attachment.
Therapy (of course)
Having a long term relationship with someone who is securely attached
An attachment transformation doesn't happen in a vacuum, so simply attending therapy sessions or choosing a securely attached partner won't be the magic button. It is also important to continue exploring your own emotions and reactions, where they might be coming from, and what you need to feel safe and understood in the moment.
If you're reading this blog, it seems like it's already important to you, and you're looking for a change.