I’ve read several books on attachment styles and went to therapy just to find out that few people knew exactly how each attachment style heals. Most resources discuss the traits of each attachment style but few give resources on how to practically heal.
What are the exact steps we need to take to heal each attachment style?
As a short recap, attachment styles are the way we act and feel when we start feeling close or intimate in a romantic relationship. It’s the way our caregivers related to us which created our definition about love.
For those anxiously attached, their caregivers were misattuned – they received the message that it’s not safe to explore the world on their own. They needed their caregivers for comfort, otherwise, they felt triggered. But the caregivers were not always around to soothe them. So, as adults, they’ve learned that the only way to feel good is to receive external validation and soothing. However, they cannot always get it, as it happened with their caregivers. This roller coaster is familiar yet can be the recipe for toxic and unstable relationships.
For those avoidantly attached, their caregivers taught them they will almost never be available for attunement so they have to learn to not have any kind of needs and therefore, to be extremely independent. As adults, they feel like they don’t need anyone and have an extreme fear of being needed as well. They want to keep their independence no matter what, as their were forced to learn it.
For those with disorganized attachment, their caregivers felt overwhelmed when it came to meeting their needs, responding with aggression or intimidation. This made them triggered with or without the caregiver, with an inability to be soothed. As adults, they have a sort of “come here, go away” attitude. They want closeness but when they have it, they sabotage it.
So how do we heal?
Today we are going to talk about healing anxious attachment.
It took me years to understand why no one would ever be available to meet my needs. Why my partners were so cruel to not be there when I needed them. To ask for what I need so loudly and still not be heard.
What was wrong with them? What was wrong with the world?
Well, let’s start with the start. There was nothing wrong with them. They were just adults with needs, just like I was. They were not my caregivers, so they were not responsible to co-regulate with me whenever I was feeling distressed.
When we are seeing our partners through the lens of our anxious attachment, we think they are responsible to make us feel safe and happy. This is why I think that even if they would agree, this would be the sure way towards a codependent relationship.
For us, our job is to learn that our internal state is our responsibility. That we have to learn to befriend that inner child and be the parent they never had. To show them they are okay now, so we can finally fill the gap between what our conscious mind wants (love and healthy relationships) and what our subconscious mind thinks we need (external validation that we are lovable).
Quick insight – our subconscious minds directs around 95% of our behaviors so you can already see who directed our behavior so far. We consciously said how we are worthy of love and we want a conscious relationship but ended ruled by our subconscious beliefs.
How do change this?
Our inner child needs the soothing they never had from the caregiver. To show up as our adult, healthy and loving self, we have to learn to provide that soothing to them when we feel triggered. To remember it’s not our partner’s responsibility to soothe us, but ours.
The moment we feel the abandonment and rejection kicking in – we have to pause. The stories about how we will end up alone and abandoned will keep on going. But the adult inside of us can take control.
Take a step back and just breathe. Deep abdominal breathing, to show your nervous system you are safe now. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Try it out.
Your mission is to show your inner child that YOU won’t abandon him/her. That’s all they want to know. And no one besides you will ever be able to provide them the love and comfort that they expect from you, the now adult.
After you feel calm again, take a piece of paper and write down similar affirmations, while holding the image of your inner child in mind:
You are safe now with me
I will always be here to hold you when you are scared
I won’t ever turn my back to you when you feel alone
I will always have your back when you need me
My partner’s rejection is not a direct reflection of my worth
In time, you will love that self love is not outsourced. No one can give us self love and validation, and that’s what we need the most. You’ll learned to be rejected and not feel abandoned.
I’ll say that again – We can all be rejected without feeling abandoned. Actually, we can be rejected and know it has nothing to do with our worth.
Don’t forget – the more we detach ourselves from our attachment tendencies and we can see them as the child within us who just wants love and protection, the more we are able to work with, not against our attachment style.
In the next series, we discuss the other attachment styles and their healing.
Sending love to everyone,