The concept of “attachment style” is everywhere nowadays. It seems to be flooding the internet and you’ll see references to attachment style across social media, YouTube, relationships coaching programs, and more.
So, what’s the big hype about the attachment style and how can understanding your attachment style help you toward a more fulfilling life?
Let’s see what attachment style is and why it has become such a phenomenon
Basically, your attachment style is composed of all your childhood relational experiences when the people around you were (or were not) emotionally attuned to you and your needs.
Your ability to relate to others now is built on the moments when someone was there for you (or not) when you were young. Whether you had people who could comfort you, see you, understand you, and respond to you with compassion when you were a child still matters in your life today.
In other blog posts we’ll examine what happens when you don’t have attuned caregivers, specifically the anxious and avoidant attachment styles. But first it’s important to explore what an ideal, healthy situation might look like.
What Creates a Healthy, Secure Attachment Style
You experienced healthy attachment when you felt someone was invested in you and your inner world. You had one or more people in your life who could mirror, recognize, understand, and engage with your emotional state. Someone was there to laugh with you, play with you, to encourage you, and motivate you. They could witness your emotional experiences and hold a safe space for your tears, fears, doubts, frustrations, and insecurities.
All these experiences left you feeling deeply connected, held by someone’s mind, heart, and presence. And, if there was a temporary failure in that attunement, it was addressed and repaired, which further helped you feel connected and even more able to trust and honor the humanity inside you and the people who raised you.
Moments of attunement paired with moments of repair formed your emotional being, filling you with love, care, trust, confidence that you were seen, heard, and that you mattered.
When you’ve had such emotionally attuned experiences in your younger years, you develop healthy feelings and beliefs about yourself and how you expect others to respond to you. This is a secure attachment style.
Thanks to your secure attachment style and the emotionally attuned experiences that formed you, as an adult you can navigate your life from an emotional space defined by:
- feeling in touch with your inner world
- knowing how to repair moments of misattunement
- mutual attuned relationships
From this place of emotional attunement to yourself and others, you can connect with more genuinely and intimately and create a life that reflects more who you really are. In the end, living from your authentic self with genuine connections, purpose, creativity, and sense of agency is the ultimate creative expression.
The Benefits of Having a Healthy, Secure Attachment Style
We are innately born for attachment. We are meant to develop our sense of self and sense of humanity through our relationships. While relationships are important throughout life, early relational experiences set the stage for our emotional fulfillment as adults.
Our early experiences become part of who we are. They help us form a sense of trust and comfort:
– in our own resources and innate gifts
– that we can discover who we are
– that we can develop our talents and skills
– that we can navigate the uncertainty of life
– that we are enough and worthy of love
– that we can invest ourselves toward accomplishing our goals or dreams
Being secure in yourself and having a secure attachment style doesn’t guarantee an easy, problem-free life, but it will help you face and navigate life challenges from an emotional resilience.
When your life is founded on healthy relational experiences, it is much more likely that you can:
- Feel comfort in yourself, in your strength and weakness
- Look inside yourself with curiosity about who you really are
- Face fears, doubts, uncertainties, challenges, and setbacks
- Express yourself
- Feel OK about making mistakes
- take on challenges by committing to step by step toward your goals or dreams
- Tolerate and push through frustration and disappointments
Thanks to your secure attachment style, you can be intimately connected to yourself, others, and you live your life from a place of emotional freedom. You believe in yourself and can accomplish your goals. You feel your ideas are worthy and deserve to be part of the world. You go about creating your life grounded in your true self, your ideas, your unique way of being.
But what if you haven’t had a consistently attuned early emotional environment? What happens to you as an adult?
In many ways, although you are innately born to experience authentic connections, you may find it challenging to access your true self and experience fulfilling relationships. A childhood without “good enough” relational attunement leaves you with a sense of emotional disconnection from yourself and others.
You cannot get in touch with or stay in touch with who you are, or access your genuine talents, skills, and abilities. You’re either perpetually hungry and desperate for connection, or you perpetually avoid genuine connections. You may be chasing goals or dreams that are not fulfilling or that you can’t get to feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Read more about anxious and avoidant attachment styles which develop through the lack of attuned childhood relationships.
How do you heal attachment wounds, including anxious or avoidant attachment styles?
Though your early childhood experience does matter a great deal, you can heal and shift to a more secure attachment style when you are an adult.
Psychotherapy is very effective at healing early childhood relational trauma that interferes with the development of a more secure attachment style. Psychotherapy with an attuned therapist offers an emotionally corrective experience. In therapy, you have the opportunity to be held, witnessed, and responded to emotionally with compassion. You can experience what it is like to be heard, seen, motivated and inspired.
A therapist trained in psychodynamic therapy, the neurobiology of relationships, and Attachment EMDR can help you heal past experiences of childhood relational trauma or misattunement. These highly relational psychotherapy approaches facilitate healing from inside-out through the attuned emotional environment and psychotherapeutic moments that create a space for healing.
It is possible to release the emotional trauma stored in your mind/body, heal, and restore your authentic true self. With support, you can find emotional freedom and create authentic connections to yourself and others so you can experience satisfaction and success through your life endeavors.
I offer psychotherapy to clients across the state of California in person and through a telehealth model. My practice specializes in the needs of artists and creatives who wish to heal and return their emotional instruments in order to build healthy relationships, reconnect to their creativity, and pursue their personal and professional dreams.
Contact me to set up a free 15-20 minute consultation to see if psychotherapy can help you further your career and your personal life.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives face and shift emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creative blocks, and addictions – to be and live their own best version. You can read more about Therapy for Creatives and Performers here.