Change your avoidant, anxious or fearful attachment style (2023)

Change your avoidant, anxious or fearful attachment style (1)


So you've been reading articles about itprivateand realize that you have an insecure attachment style. What now? People easily see elements of their style that are inappropriate and lead to problems in relationships. To help people adapt, compensate and deal with their style (and that of their friends and family), I have previously described (in previous posts) how to:

  • Deal with your feelings and use them as data
  • You tolerate the behavior of others
  • Choose environments that are more supportive
  • Beware of emotional hijacking

Here are some ways you can start redirecting your emotional system and changing your pattern or patterns of what you expect to happen in your relationship with other people (i.e., your attachment style).

To get the most out of this discussion, we first need to talk a bit about how the brain works. Have you ever heard that we only use 10 percent of our brain? Well, of course that's not true. We use our whole brain most of the time. This statement actually means that a relatively small part of our brain is directly involved in what we would consider conscious processing. Most of the processes that take place in our brain are automatic and take place below the level of our consciousness. For example, if someone throws a ball at your head, your arm will automatically go up in an attempt to catch or block the ball without having to consciously plan your move.

Similarly, the physiological components of emotional systems operate below the level of conscious awareness. Human emotions are primarily controlled by an area of ​​the brain calledlimbic system. One of the main structures involved in emotional reactions, attachment processes andemotion- loaded memories are the amygdala.

We can use our knowledge of how the amygdala works to shape our personality.

The amygdala is an automatic processor and storehouse of emotional memories. When information reaches the brain from the senses, it goes to a relay station called the thalamus. The thalamus sends this information to two places: to the cerebral cortex for conscious processing (i.e., you can think about what just happened) and directly to the amygdala to quickly determine if incoming information poses a threat. The amygdala is the "dirty" processor. Its primary task is to make a yes/no decision: threat or no threat. And depending on your attachment style and the sensitivity of your emotional systemChildhoodthreats can be potential job loss, actual physical threats, loud voices, potentially offensive facial expressions, and even things so subtle that you consciously don't recognize them.

Regardless of the source, when a threat is detected, the amygdala releases adrenaline. The amygdala can trigger the release of adrenaline before the cortex has a chance to consciously process what has happened. The cortex then makes its own decision about the nature of the threat, and if it agrees that the action is justified, it sends another message to the amygdala that the threat exists.

Even without an external trigger, the cortex can send threat signals to the amygdala.

Most of us can recall unpleasant or disturbing memories, or we can imagine scary situations that will trigger an emotional response. In this case, we are dealing with an emotional reaction to amemoryor an imaginary event that is not really happening in the present. Some of us have also dreamed of achievement and success, love or other experiences that can evoke positive feelings. What our emotional systems respond to is incoming data, but they don't care where that data comes from (current situation orimagination). For this reason, emotional experiences can be deliberately modified with imagination and one's own voice and words.


  • What is attachment?
  • Find a therapist who will strengthen your relationship

Imaginary events can lead to new positive memories.

Take a moment and imagine a dream you had in the past. What you have is the memory of an event that never happened. You literally dreamed about it. Coupled with our discussion of emotions, this means you can intentionally create new memories along with associated emotions.

New memories and feelings literally remodel your brain. The brain is very flexible. Links that you use frequently will be strengthened. The ones you don't use are pruned and weakened. So if you are stuck in the cycle of recalling painful memories or imaginingworry- causing interaction or sadness, these circles will be well established and put into action immediately.

Appendix Essential reading

Cultivating Secure Attachment: Building Healthy Relationships

Because anxious and avoidant attachment attract each other

Now is the time to reverse this trend by strengthening the positive pathways and weakening the negative pathways that cause stress. Repeated positive imaginative experiences combined with positive emotions will create new memories and activate the pleasure centers in your brain.

Change is not easy. This means constant, regular practice. Here are some ideas:

1. Write the positive affirmation cards on the 3x5 index cards. Read them to yourself (preferably aloud) as often as possible.

A positive affirmation is a short, positive statement, such as "I am great" or "I am a valuable person." At first, it doesn't matter whether you believe it or not.

If you are like many people, a constant stream of negative thoughts has been running through your head for years. These negative "recordings" play in the background like a boring conversation. Often by reading the confirmation cards, you will simply record a new tape.

If you don't think repetition leads to new tapes, consider the following: I can sing word for word Pepsi's 1976 trademark. I'm talking word for word about the commercial life of breakfast cereal ("Hey, Mikey!"). Why do these ads stick in my mind forever even though I never tried or wanted to remember them? One reason: pure repetition. Time to record a new jingle!

2. Learn to talk to yourself and become your own positive coach.

Many of us have been criticizing ourselves for years without holding back. When you do this, you are reinforcing the negative stress-inducing pathways. You just have to refrain from criticizing yourself. Don't worry; You are suspected of over-correcting and becoming delusionalnarcissus. And the world is hard enough without your help.

Practice saying things like, "I can do that. I'm as capable as anyone in this room." "Nobody knows I'm restless"; "I can handle." Scientists have found that people who hope andoptimisticabout future positive usesamogoworwhen performing difficult tasks.

Learn to talk to yourself. Believe it or not, many people say they don't think in words. If you want to learn to control your thoughts and think consciously, you need to know how to talk to yourself. Here are the tools:

Take a narrated walk. Start while you are still at home. Say everything (aloud if you can) what you see and experience: “I get up and go to the door. One, two, three, four steps. I put my hand on the doorknob. It's cold. I'm going outside. It's bright outside, but still a bit cold..."

3. Work like a mirror.

Go to a room where you have reasonable expectations of privacy. Look in the mirror. Look him straight in the eye and say as honestly as you can: "I love you."

The first time I did it, I couldn't keep a straight face or control myselflaughter. Now I can look myself in the eye, say it with complete sincerity, and feel warm and natural.

try it. Remember that your emotional system is only aware of incoming data. It is not known where the data comes from. Your emotional system will recognize that someone is looking at you and saying "I love you". You will create a new memory.

People react differently to this task, and I have a few clients who just can't bring themselves to do it. But look at it this way: if it's pointless and stupid, why would it be so hard for you to do it?

4. Make the child's imaginary inner work creativeimagining.

People with a safe style have a treasure trove of memories of people who support them and support them in the face of challenges. Taken together, these memories coalesce into what might be called an "internalized safe base." During periods of mild to moderate anxiety, secure attachment individuals do not need to contact the appropriate person. They can reaffirm and comfort themselves, regulate their emotions, and start over.

If you're one of the 45 percent of people who didn't have enough secure primary memories as a child, you can now create new memories. Of course, you can use a safe person as a basis if that person comes into your life. But if not, then all you have is yourself. . . and that's enough.

Sit back, relax and get ready for a short workoutMeditation. Close your eyes. Imagine you see yourself as a small child. It often helps to see a child sitting in the pasture. Introduce yourself as your future self. Tell your child that you made it. you have grown up. Then tell your child that you love them. That you will always be with them. That you will never leave them. Listen to how the child reacts. If your baby lets you (or maybe not at first), give him a hug. And if you don't succeed the first time, don't give up! Keep coming back. After all, you promised you'd always be there.

This is just an example of some fantastic exercises you can do. For those who want to go further, I recommend John Bradshaw's book,coming back home. For more resources on understanding the neuroscience of the emotional system (in plain English), I recommend Joseph LeDoux's books,Emotional brainIsynaptic self.


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