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Understanding how your attachment style impacts your relationships

Feeling like you are stuck in the same destructive patterns? Perhaps you struggle with depression, anxiety, anger, or relationship issues. During childhood, people form ways of experiencing themselves and connecting with others that are known as attachment styles. It may be that your style of attaching or relating to yourself and others is at the root of your ongoing struggles.

Two basic attachment styles that often cause people difficulties are anxious attachment and avoidant attachment.

People with anxious attachment:

-Tend to feel flawed or inadequate

-Feel that they are not enough and have a powerful need to feel accepted, comforted, and validated by others

-Even if loved ones reassure them, any comfort felt tends to be short-lived

-May struggle with feeling unworthy, clingy, jealous, or being overwhelmed with self-doubt

-Frequently experience depression, anxiety, and feel insecure in their relationships

People with avoidant attachment:

-Often view themselves more positively, but avoid emotionally close relationships

-Not emotionally present for others and do not expect others to be truly present for them

-Can be task focused, seeing themselves as highly independent and self-sufficient, but may feel bored and unfulfilled

-Can become anxious or depressed when difficulties become so overwhelming that they cannot ignore their emotions or discomfort with feeling alone

In contrast to these insecure attachment styles, those who are securely attached feel they are worthy and lovable and often feel that others are emotionally there for them. With the support they feel, they feel generally happy and secure within themselves and their relationships.

If you recognize yourself in one of the insecure attachment styles, consider what unhealthy patterns you notice. Do you think of yourself as unworthy, inadequate, or unlovable? Do you avoid close relationships due to expectations that others will not be there for you? Can you see how these patterns affect you and your relationships?

By putting in time and effort to learn more about yourself from a compassionate perspective, you can then develop a more secure attachment style that will help you become happier within yourself and enjoy more secure, happier relationships.

Original article written by: Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D.