Everything you want is on the other side of fear
– Jack Canfield
During my psychology classes, I was attracted to correlation between early childhood and adult attachment styles which can affect our relationships with others across lifespan.
Heard comments continuously towards abused surviovrs – saying that “Past is past”, but the truth is our behavior / perspective / reaction and belief system etc. were established since born. Infants / children treat parents and home as secure base during exploration and development. If for some reasons the environment can’t nurture as expected, this will influence, or even worse damage tremendously on every level of a child mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
Thus it’s impossible to heal completely until we honestly dig to the dirt underneath. Past is not just the past, but these are emotional baggages we carried years that mold our mindset. How we perceive ourselves? Our self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, self-confidnece etc. not only affect how we react to the world but also, somehow make us attracted to like-minded fellows, or those who want to take advantages from our weakness.
According to theory, there are 4 types of attachment styles: Secure, Dismissive-Avoidant, Anxious-Preoccupied and Fearful-Avoidant.
I always admire this type of people, who always present themselves with confidence, courages, open and positive attitudes. Children who grown up in a stable and nurture home environment allow them establishing their secured identities satisfactionary.
They learned and established healthy boundaries with unshakable self-belief : don’t see others as extension to themselves, respect another person’s space and individuality. They know how to balance independence and intimacy – don’t scare to maintain a healthy, intimate and trust relationships with others but at the same time not being needy, control or clinging. Their emotions are stable and have power to manage conflicts.
Like attracts alike. This type of people are more easily to attracted to similar level of mindset / attitude / energy group of people. Snowball effect leads them become more successfull, happier and powerful along career, relationship paths.
Fearful – Avoidant
In contrast, children who raised up in abusive / toxic families, being controlled or brainwashed by narcissistic parents will undoubtely establish unhealthy self-belief system. When a child was abused / hurt or betrayed, they learned not to trust others, detached their feelings from surroundings in order to eliminate hurtful feelings / memories. It’s an essential survival skills to be equipped to survive in a toxic environment.
Sadly, many abused survivors bring this distored belief about themselves and the world into adulthood unconsciously. Deep down they need love, care and intimacy but since they have learnt from experiences that people can’t be trusted (not even your parents), or when they were not treated with respect by own blood-related family members, how the earth they expect outsiders will love and care about them?
Such great fear of being betrayed / hurt again stop their motivation to search for healthy relationships. They have difficulties to open hearts and emotions, connect to outsiders as it’s so painful to touch those inner invisble wounds. Some of them may even feel awkward when dealing with kindness or closeness because they never experience these elments from childhood. Other victims may behave defensive, self-guided, short-tempered, over-reacting on small stuffs or such a perfectionist that scares people away.
People are threatened / annoyed by these behaviors so try to keep distance from them in avoiding troubles. Another snowball effect is rolling but in wrong direction : Fearful-Avoidant type may either attract the wrong people to their world that drag them furthe down to the hole, or they become more and more shut-down / self-contained / self-abased. When they reach old age, feeling lonely, miserable with regrets.
What’s my type?
Yes, I belong to fearful-avoidant type. But I’m learning to thow away this name-tag. Though I seldom argue, being harsh or project my problems / emotions onto others, but I do feel scare whenever people try to get closer to me, interested to getting know more about me, not meaning physically but emotionally.
I want to have good friends, close relationships but I’m so scare to open myself up to outsiders. Because of my abusive history, I used to worry how others feel about me, I don’t like to be judged, looked down or honestly say I felt shame for not having a normal life like general people.
Before now, my self-worth was very low that I didn’t expect nice people want to be my friends. I used to feel inferior to those who have good families/partners/friends, etc. I had no problems to read books or learn from successful people, but my old-aged belief system made me staying away from people I admire in reality. I was the one who stared at people I envy / jealous at the corner without saying a word, then left with sorrow inside. I thought I can never live the lives like them. I felt more comfortable to hang around with people who’s motivation / energy / intelligence level below me, or who treat me disrespectfully, judge me or drag me down emotionally and mentally.
How to break the curse ?
I spent years to deal with my fear of relationships. In fact, I can’t say I “deal” with it because I never, I just simply put it aside without acknowledge it. In recent years I became more conscious and confident enough to face my fear by absorbing tons of articles / books / seminars in searching for solutions.
Now I understand I need to be more brave, get in touch with secure type people. They are actually the category that can support and supplement what fearful-avoidant type lack of. They don’t feel intimidated by my success, growth and don’t need to step over / degrade me in earning their own confidence / self-worth. They are my role models who can teach me how to connect with others in a healthy and positive way.
I’m sharing this not because I’m perfect or reach my success now, in fact, I’m still struggling on my journey, many self-examination and introspection are on-going.
But I want anyone who belongs to my type know how to leap over. Not wasting as much as my time and energy during the searching. It’s always scarely to dig deep internally but that’s the only way to heal until we figure out who we really are.
To understand more about the attachment theory can make us appraoch the world with clearer lense, hopefully turn life upside down in case you are not happy with what you are having now.
What about you? what’s your attachment style? How about people around you? what are their type that actually reflect your own type?
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