Moving Through Barriers
As a holistic health coach - I love to geek out by using the tools and strategies that I teach others, further analysing my own life, health and behaviours that will better myself and those around me. I'm always looking for the 'why', the lesson and always searching for more. As a fixer, a helper and an educator - thats what we thrive on. #Nerdalert.
Some of the tools we come across, albeit simple, can be immediately effective and life changing.
I recently stumbled across just that!
Although my stumble was more of a brutal face-plant, the lightbulb that came on for me was blinding to say the least! I realised as I searched and dove deeper into the subject - I felt as though there was a piece of the puzzle that was missing, so I thought it was important to fill in the gap. Here's my story.
When I first learned about Attachment Styles or Attachment Theory, the logic immediately resonated with me. Yet, heartbreakingly, when I found myself describing it to my partner and explaining to him that I had fallen into the category of 'anxious-insecure', I knew that for my own wellbeing and the future of my relationships - I had to find a way out and fast!
There are 4 different attachment styles and depending on where you sit within these - will determine many of your behaviours in life and relationships. Our style is determined from when we are very young, by the way in which we are treated and raised by our primary caregiver. Most people develop a secure attachment growing up.
The four attachment styles (names may differ slightly)
Secure: 50% of the population
Anxious/Insecure: 20% of the population
Avoidant/insecure: 25% of the population
Disorganised/insecure: 5 % of the population
Some of the traits of a secure attachment:
They are not Jealous
Are comfortable Opening Up
Can Keep Heated Discussions Civil
Trust, intimacy and affection.
They are Empathetic.
Hold relationships with parents, caregivers and authority.
Ability to manage impulses and feelings
Know How to Compromise
Independence and Autonomy
For me - I had wonderful parents and a very loving and fortunate up-bringing, creating a very strong secure attachment - so why, as a 37 year old woman, am I harbouring some of the signs of an insecure attachment? This question became a little haunting when I realised there were alot of woman and men in this boat and like me, circa last week - have no idea why these emotional hurdles are haunting them and unknowingly sabotaging their adult relationships.
From a good upbringing and a very secure and loving long term relationship prior to turning 30, I soon after, found my life taking a 180 degree turn.
I became the perfect candidate to fuel the ego of a sociopath, which landed me in a volatile and emotionally, mentally and financially abusive relationship. This went on to alter my stable patterns, breaking significant holes in my secure attachment, which had been developed in my childhood. The relationship and the aftermath was settled after about 2.5 years, but unbeknownst to me during the relationship - the damage was already done.
After the end of the relationship, I spent 5 years with therapists, counsellors, healers, visiting retreats, I dived into plant medicines and a library full of self help and personal development literature to try and shake the behaviours that had been programmed in 16 months through skilful and ruthless manipulation and relentless lies.
Luckily, due to a strong upbringing, my attachment style didn't completely change - I still hold many of the traits of my initial secure attachment - but sadly, when your reality is moulded by someone who is shaping you in a way in which destroys you in order to benefit themselves, their insecure traits start to take over - this was my experience.
Some of the traits of an insecure attachment may look like:
Difficulty trusting others.
Worries that your partners will abandon you.
Craving closeness and intimacy.
Being overly dependent in relationships.
Requiring frequent reassurance that people care about you.
Being overly sensitive to a partner's actions and moods.
They say knowledge is power - and just like the day I read my first article on Narcissism, reading my first article on attachment theory, changed my life. When we are 'in' something - a situation, it can be really hard to see the forrest through the trees - but when it's outlined in front of you- its clear as day. And when something is clear - you are then given the power and the choice to change or turn a blind eye.
You don't get to my age as a coach without meeting alot of men and woman that have suffered at the hand of an abusive partner (mentally, physically, emotionally or financially) which is a sad reality and yet we leave these relationships, broken and we try to do the work to heal- but how can we get to the bottom of everything when we don't have all the pieces of the puzzle?
For those like myself who came from a secure attachment during childhood and maybe even through early adult life, but then fell prey to a relationship donned with manipulation and lies that left you questioning who you are - I can't suggest strongly enough, to look further into attachment styles and see what resonates with you. You may, like me, just have a few of the overlapping traits, but nevertheless, if you are one for personal betterment and strong loving relationships, which we should all strive for - there are ways that you can dig yourself out of the hole and find your security again or perhaps find it for the first time and find some answers that you have always looked for. These are some of the great tools I have discovered: I hope they help you like they will help me.
Knowing yourself, building self-esteem, and finding self-compassion can often feel like two steps forward and one step back - so do what feels right for you and dive in.
Get to know your attachment style by reading up on it, you can even do a quiz:
Keep developing the things you are already good at and the things you love, so you spend more time in flow, living passionately.
Take the time to learn what it is that you need, physically.
Talk to your partner if you are in a relationship - be honest and explain to them, what it is that you need. Having your basic needs met will help you strengthen a better pattern. You may feel as though your needs are small as you verbalise them - but small alterations have the power to make big life changes when they are done consistently.
Talk extensively about the future with your partner if they are someone that you see yourself with longterm. Create a space to communicate openly and without fear of judgement. Remember that good communication is a skill that can be learned.
Work with a therapist that has expertise in attachment theory.
Seek out partners and friends that have a secure attachment style. Build a truely solid support network and don't fear letting go of those that are not on our path or make you question yourself.
Try new things and follow your heart- you may come across something that you are really good at and allows you to lose track of time. Do more of these things - they will enhance your self esteem.
Rest. Deep healing can come from time in silence. Make the time.
Meditate. This can be in silence, guided from an app like the insight timer (I love the words of Sarah Blondin) or find a hobby that allows you to lose track of time.
Get physically strong because the process of it strengthens your head as well.
Looking after yourself physically, attending to your wellness and self-care nurtures emotional strength and stability.
Change your self talk - start to notice the things you say to yourself and if you wouldn't speak to your best friend that way - change it!
Practice - like anything, willingness to learn, consistency and desire to change, repeated over and over, will heed results.
Be patient, and ask your partner for their patience too.