Happy end of May my dear readers! I wanted to discuss something a bit different from what I usually write, and that is a topic in the psychology and therapy realm that particularly peaks my interest. This specific topic is attachment styles. Particularly, what they are, how to identify them, and how they can effect you in adulthood.
I’ve always found attachment theory to be extremely interesting and informative. You can tell a lot about yourself and how your childhood shaped you through the interactions and patterns in your relationship with your caregiver(s). And into adulthood, we tend to model the same behaviors or change our behavior based on what we became accustomed to in our formative years, whether it be positive or negative.
So let’s do a brief overview of each attachment style and you might find that one is more relatable than the others. The first attachment style I’m going to cover is secure attachment, which is the healthiest style of attachment and through therapy and rewiring your thoughts, can be achieved by anyone. Secure attachment is characterized by feeling secure and safe in relationships. During formative years, your caregiver(s) met your needs for security. You most likely felt heard, encouraged, protected, and sure of yourself. Into adulthood you most likely have a positive view of yourself and others. You’re comfortable being alone, but participate in emotional closeness, trust, and honesty in relationships.
The next attachment style is avoidant or dismissive, which is usually characterized by strongly emotionally independent people. They have high self-esteem, but do not like dependence, whether it’s them depending on others or others depending on them. This usually caused by a lack of emotional availability and support from their caregiver(s) in childhood. This forces the children to be independent and creates a narrative that they must depend on themselves. Adults with this attachment style tend to avoid close relationships or opening up about their emotions.
The next attachment style is anxious or preoccupied attachment style. This style is characterized by anxiety in relationships. This individual would not only be fearful of being alone, but have a fear of abandonment. These individuals hold their relationships extremely highly and even to unrealistic standards at times. They usually see the very best in others, especially those they care about, but can be critical and negative when it comes to themselves. This attachment style usually stems from caregiver(s) inconsistency. One minute they might be very considerate and loving, but the next they’re very cold or volatile. This can cause children to adapt to the notion that you must expect the worst, just in case.
The final attachment style is disorganized or fearful-avoidant. This attachment style is characterized by inconsistent behavior due to the combatting desire and simultaneous fear of intimacy. These individuals tend to be very hesitant to trust others. They tend to push people away after getting too close, making them unpredictable. This type of attachment stems from the caregiver(s) inconsistency, but this type of unpredictable behavior evokes fear. This can involve physical and emotional abuse or little to no reliability.
So now that we’ve covered each attachment style, it’s important to note that none of them are permanent. Although these attachment styles stem from learned behavior in formative years, they can be changed. Therapy is an amazing tool for accomplishing this. Through the therapeutic process, you not only can identify your attachment style but the harmful behavior patterns you may be participating in. There’s most likely subconscious decisions that happen in the mind contributing to a certain way of attachment. This is because behavior can become similar to muscle memory. Once these behaviors are identified, you and your therapist can come up with a plan together. Through this plan you can begin to rewire the interactions you’re accustomed to and create new boundaries. It will not be an easy feat, but with time and work secure attachment is in your future.
This article was written by Lilly Hart, a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. She currently has her bachelor of arts degree in psychology, with a minor in counseling. She has a deep passion for mental health awareness and plans to further her career in graduate school. She is now the new Administrative Assistant and Community Outreach Coordinator at Carolina Assessment Services, LLC, and can’t wait to produce new and insightful content for our readers.
If there are any other topics you’d be interesting in learning about, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always appreciative of new ideas to delve into on the blog!