Every time you’re tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future?
– Deepak Chopra
This is part 2 of adult attachment style.
Anyone who never had experience of growing up from dysfunctional / toxic / abusive family, they just don’t have clear clues how painful, confused and disorientate it can be. I can’t emphasize enough it’s very important to educate public, especially primary caretakers as the way they raise their child will definitely alter his / her every aspect of life.
Not as causal as many outsiders think, or simply throw sentences : “past is past, let’s move on!”, “Don’t cry on spilled milk”. Once an individual’s self-belief, self-image and self-confidence etc was damaged / distorted, it needs lots more of time / energy / methods to heal the wounds than don’t make it happen at the first place.
Dismissive attachment style
If a child is rejected / betrayed continually by parents, raising in a toxic, lack of love, care environment, he / she will have difficulties to develop maturely. As times goes by, they learn to mother themselves independently during the development process. They managed to disconnect from parents and environment, shut down emotions or ask for help in order to limit those harmful / hurtful feelings / emotions. The whole time they are in survival mode, tackle all life challenges by themselves and realized that it’s better not relying on others, even parents. People can’t be trust.
Sadly, this unhealthy relationship pattern is prolonged to adulthood. People of this type are very detached from people and environment. They feel more comfortable and safer to do everything alone, don’t consider the necessity and importance of close relationship with others. Besides, they view relationships never last long, or are dangerous / hurtful. They worry things out of their control and love to live on their own terms. In such, they don’t need to deal with disappointments, rejections or emotions that potentially evolved with companion. They seem so “COLD” like a zombie.
They may jump from relationships to relationships as simply a thought of long-lasting relationship already scare them away, or prefer long-distance relationship because it won’t consume all their energy / attention in which they never willing to sacrifice 100% because of the fear of failure in relationship. Since they don’t have great desire of closeness with others, they will never have motivation to figure out what’s the problem and solution – feeling everything just fine.
A female solo-traveler I met on the road years ago was exactly belong to this type : very independent, tough and love to do everything on her own. She doesn’t care hanging around with other fellow travelers and reacted extremely sensitive, always worrying that other travelers or locals took advantage from her. Similar to me, she had a difficult childhood and guess that’s the reason we bound to each other so quickly at the beginning. But after spending some time traveled with her, I felt so exhausted mentally, end up we argued and split up.
I quite understand why she suppress her feelings / emotions, but it’s just too difficult to relate to someone who was so isolated, rejected to open up her thoughts/ideas while planning itinerary. People with dismissive adult attachment style tend to avoid conflict / stress by distancing themselves.
In our society, people are praised and judged according to how much money, what title they hold etc. This give excuses for people of this type to chase their success, fame, reputation even further without critics. In fact, they are very self-critical, insecure, low self-esteem thus need continued attention, approval and reassurance from others. No matter how success, beautiful or wealthy they are, the internal never-ended self-doubts and comparisons are killing them.
They hungry for so-called achievements at the expense of other’s benefits, e.g. families harmony or own health. At surface, such over-work pattern project an image of diligent, industrious but the truth is they love to be admired, complimented and always worrying one day their status will be faded. In order to maintain their current positions/status, they work even more hours or skipping more friends/family events.
Not saying that working hard is bad but there’s a fine line. According to psychology, anyone who put everything on one basket signaling something wrong, e.g. sex / drug addiction, over-work, probably trying to escape from something that afraid to confront, e.g. a bad marriage or a lonely / boring life.
There are another group of people from this type, who don’t care much about money or career etc, but addict to relationships. Deep inside, they have low self-esteem and don’t believe they are worthy enough to have a good relationship, thus always worry and afraid being rejected / betrayed by others. Because of the fear, they keep an eye / ears on their partners all time, very clingy, needy or overly dependent with their friends / partners, e.g. excessive calling, texting. They are willing to do everything pleasing their partners / friends in exchanging of care and attention.
People with healthy boundary have a balance between relationships : maintain an intimate / close relationships with others while owing their own lives, hobbies, personal time. Unfortunately, people with preoccupied attachment style have problems to smooth their inner insecurities without react desperately in their relationships.
Doesn’t mean we will stuck in same style forever, but attachment theory giving us some guidance, showing how our behaviors / thoughts are influenced. Research shows that it’s difficult for individuals to change from one attachment style to another, unless an individual alert to the problems and willing to make changes on their own wishes – to break through the unhealthy pattern.
Secure attachment type is the most healthy personality and we should surround ourselves with them more. Besides, work on developing our self-confidence, self-image issues and learning more about relationships. Sure It needs to take lots of practice and effort, since unlearning wrong patterns to re-build a healthy one takes time and courage.
And if you are secure type, please be patience and don’t being too pushy to your partners / friends (in case they are dismissive/avoidant or preoccupied). The more you push the more you’ll drive them away, they’ll getting more nervous and panic which end up push them back to their caves. Once an individual shut down it’ll be more difficult to help them. Show yourself as example of what is healthy relationship means, they might not saying anything but actually peeking on your behaviors/attitude, when they’re ready they’ll change and make a difference because you prove them how life and relationship can be so lovely.
Do you know anyone belongs to these types? how you feel and handle?
Photo credit : Shaun Dunphy
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?
Photo credit : google image