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How to become more secure
Changing your attachment style
Last week I told you about the four main attachment styles. By now, you know where you fall on the spectrum. Here are a few ideas of how to shift more towards a secure attachment.
Obviously, what you need to do depends on your attachment style and where you find yourself challenged in your relationships. If you don't know what I am talking about or need a refresher, read last week's post on "How your attachment style affects your relationships.”
Remember, your attachment style is durable. You learned it as a child and reinforced it as an adult. If you’ve learned it, you can unlearn it though. If you are willing to put in the work, you can save yourself unnecessary suffering. You will find yourself more secure in your relationships and live happily ever after! (Nah. But you'll feel a lot better. I promise!)
Keep in mind that you likely gravitate toward familiar relationships. So, the first thing you do is list your past significant relationships and what they have in common. What type of person do you feel attracted to? Is it the avoidant, unavailable, hard to talk to person? The confidant, manipulative, extravagant person? The party animal? The self-loathing and problem-riddled type?
What usual dynamics do you enact with your partners? Are you the provider and savior? The independent needing lots of space and running away? The clingy, needy, helpless type? Do you fight? Play games? Do you trust each other? Have there been infidelities? What kinds of things and situations "always" happen to you?
Answering these questions will help you see what changes you need to make. Then get busy working on these changes. While you can't change another person, you can work on changing yourself to the person you'd rather be. Everyone else will sort themselves accordingly. You may have to close some doors. Others will open. You may have to negotiate your existing relationships if you wish to save them. A little personal growth goes a long way, and the results can be amazing!
Phase 1 – Acknowledge your attachment style and the problems it creates for you.
According to an old study that hasn't been redone in recent years, between 50 – 60% of the population supposedly fall within the boundaries of the Secure Attachment Style. Judging by the amount of antidepressants this nation consumes, I am willing to challenge these numbers. It seems to me that anxiety and low self-esteem prevail in the age of social-media-perfect relationships.
Seek help from people who know you and feel comfortable being honest with you. They can tell you how they see you as a person and in relationships. Listen and take notes. You are who you are right now, but you don't have to stay that way. Use the feedback productively.
Phase 2 – Get busy. Don't delay, but don't hurry up either.
It takes what it takes. Patience!. You grow in stages. Sometimes it feels like a revolution with life-changing events forcing you into transformation. At other times, it feels like watching paint dry. Ultimately, your growth is cumulative and exponential. Slow at first, rapid and relentless later, and you realize there's no going back!
If there was trauma in your life, process it. Trauma should not be an excuse for bad behavior on your part. Seek a therapist, read books, take courses! You have options. If you choose not to use them, you let past trauma dictate the outcomes and experiences in your life. If you didn't like it so far, you are going to like it even less later when you realize all the time you've wasted surviving and struggling instead of thriving. What you don't digest digests you.
If you feel shame, overcome it. Nothing sticks to a person's mind as shame does. Work on not taking things personally and building your self-esteem. Confidence and competence crowd out shame. I wrote about it in How to stop taking things personally.
If you don't know how to express your feelings, learn. No one knows how you feel. No one should guess. If you want to get what you need, you must let people know. Not like an asshat, going around in circles, dropping hints, and making scenes. Like a skillful communicator. Learn how to say "please," "I am sorry," "help me," "hug me" and all sorts of other cool stuff! Learn how to resolve conflict skillfully with a "we" instead of a "what's in it for me" attitude. Don't blame others for your feelings. This goes with not taking things personally, too. Read that post 😊
If you make a mistake, fix it! Making amends opens opportunities to practice being humble, honest, and taking responsibility for your actions. It can even be a doorway toward important conversations you've neglected or avoided for ages. It helps you clean the slate. It will earn you trust and respect! It will boost your courage and, with that, your self-esteem.
If you've been pretending, clean up. Authenticity is easier than you think. It takes less energy to maintain. It helps others identify you correctly, and it helps you surround yourself with like-minded people. Playing games, manipulating, and pretending is exhausting! Surely, you have better things to do with your time! Being yourself and a good person is easier than being pretentious.
If you're judgmental, stop. Nagging and criticizing others only go as far as the patience people have for you before they tell you to get lost and rebel. Criticizing yourself doesn't help either. Instead, learn to evaluate and examine yourself, your motivations, and your actions. Don't beat yourself up. Self-reflection leads to self-understanding and better behavior. Beating yourself up leads to self-loathing and shame.
Know your triggers, disarm them. If you do everything I already wrote about, your triggers and their origin will become apparent. The world does not owe you a safe space to protect you from being triggered. Triggers are not trophies. They are a liability. You owe it to yourself to clean up your landmines and to the world to show up fit for duty - ready to solve problems and build a better future for yourself and the collective. When you meet a trigger, treat it mindfully, massage it patiently until you dissolve it completely! Learn to self-soothe. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, stress reduction and relaxation exercises help a ton! Add massage, music, dance, nature! Journal. Read helpful books and articles. Watch videos and TED talks on the subject. You will find plentiful resources out there and in the therapist's office.
In general, anxious types need to become more self-reliant, assertive, set and honor boundaries. Avoidant-Dismissive types need to get in touch with their vulnerabilities, tone down the judgment of others, and learn to ask for help and graciously receive. Fearful types need to work on trusting others and showing up authentically. All can benefit from being in a relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style but likely, that person won't stick around for the disfunction. So, it will be helpful not to expect one as a saving grace. It will be better to prepare yourself for one by becoming more secure yourself!
Next in the works… A post on the tricks our minds play to twist reality and make us misbehave 😊Stuff like the Halo effect, the Spotlight effect, and much more!
A little Life Intelligence goes a long way!
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