What Is Your Attachment Style & How To Fix It - Connor Beaton

What Is Your Attachment Style & How To Fix It - Connor Beaton

What is Attachment Theory? (00:00:00)

  • Attachment theory is a psychological and evolutionary theory about relationships between humans.
  • It emphasizes the importance of developing a relationship with a primary caregiver in early childhood for healthy adult functioning.
  • Key figures in the development of attachment theory include John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.
  • Ainsworth created the labels "anxious" and "avoidant" to describe different attachment styles.
  • Attachment styles are formed in childhood and can be categorized as secure, anxious, or avoidant.
  • Secure attachment: Children who have a secure attachment are comfortable with closeness and independence and can form healthy relationships.
  • Anxious attachment: Children with an anxious attachment are worried about being abandoned and may become clingy or preoccupied with their relationships.
  • Avoidant attachment: Children with an avoidant attachment are uncomfortable with closeness and may push others away or become emotionally distant.
  • Attachment styles are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Genetics play a role in determining an individual's temperament and emotional reactivity, which can affect attachment style.
  • Environmental factors, such as the quality of early childhood caregiving, also play a significant role in shaping attachment style.
  • Insecure attachment styles can result from inconsistent or neglectful caregiving, while secure attachment styles are fostered by consistent and responsive caregiving.

Why Is This Useful in Evolution? (00:05:15)

  • The first few years of life are crucial for brain development and establishing a sense of safety and trust in the world.
  • Attachment styles developed in early childhood can have a lasting impact on an individual's behavior and expectations in relationships throughout adulthood.
  • Early attachment experiences can predispose individuals to behave in certain ways based on their early experiences, such as disrupted, uncertain, anxious, or avoidant childhood experiences often leading to similar situations in adulthood.
  • Secure attachment provides a foundation for recognizing safe and trustworthy relationships, while dysfunctional or traumatic experiences can disrupt attachment capacity, leading to commitment issues and difficulty discerning trustworthiness.
  • Secure and trustworthy relationships are essential for social cohesion, collaboration, and leadership, while insecure attachment can hinder personal growth and the ability to bring people together for common goals.

How Attachment Styles Are Formed (00:12:53)

  • Attachment style is formed in early childhood through interactions with caregivers, especially during two important phases: discerning if the environment is safe (0-18 months) and discerning if the child is safe and worthy (18 months-3 years).
  • Attachment is built when a child experiences challenges in a relationship and emerges successfully.
  • Infants express their basic needs for food, touch, and movement through crying, wiggling, and making noise.
  • When caregivers respond to a child's needs, they reinforce the child's sense of self-worth and safety.
  • Children develop addictive patterns or behaviors if they lack consistent attention and care from their parents.
  • Parents should not feel guilty about occasional neglect as children are resilient and can cope.

Attachment Before & After 18 Months (00:23:07)

  • Toddlers start to form language and a sense of separation from their primary caregiver around 18 months.
  • Before 18 months, toddlers experience themselves as an extension of their primary caregiver and do not have a sense of self.
  • As they approach 18 months, they develop a sense of self and start to express their wants and needs.
  • From 18 months to three years, toddlers develop a sense of self-worth and seek approval from their caregivers.
  • Research shows that children need their needs to be met by their primary caregiver about 35-40% of the time to develop secure and healthy attachment.

How to Discover Your Own Style (00:26:15)

  • People have become accustomed to over-pathologizing psychological content, which can hinder progress.
  • Attachment styles should not be seen as self-identification labels.
  • Anxious attachment style:
    • Individuals feel they cannot trust themselves and rely heavily on relationships for validation.
    • They grew up in inconsistent environments, such as with erratic or overly intrusive caregivers.
    • They may have experienced love and connection being withheld as punishment.
    • Abuse, trauma, and PTSD can also contribute to severe anxious attachment.

The Core of Anxious Attachment (00:30:47)

  • Anxious attachment is characterized by a hypervigilance to the well-being of others and a lack of self-worth.
  • Anxious people often seek external validation and reassurance, which can manifest as neediness and love bombing.
  • This behavior stems from childhood experiences where love and acceptance were dependent on meeting the expectations of caregivers.
  • To overcome anxious attachment, individuals need to learn self-regulation and self-soothing techniques.
  • This can involve practicing breathing or meditation techniques to manage anxiety and negative thoughts.
  • It is important to develop a sense of self-worth and self-value that is not dependent on external validation.
  • Therapy can be beneficial in helping individuals with anxious attachment develop healthier coping mechanisms and relationship patterns.

Tactics to Regulate Anxious Attachment (00:34:42)

  • Anxious attachment style is characterized by constantly seeking reassurance, oversharing, and feeling agitated. It often involves low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth.
  • Meditation and breathwork techniques, such as the 4-4-4-4 box breathing or the 4-2-6 breathing technique, can help reduce anxiety and heart rate.
  • To overcome anxious attachment, individuals need to develop valuable competencies and attributes, establish a robust internal system of self-validation, and practice consistent routines like gratitude journaling with emotional anchoring.
  • Anxious people are terrified of being left or doing something wrong that will cause separation or disconnection. They tend to fawn and acquiesce to whatever their partner wants, creating challenges in the relationship.
  • Exposure therapy, such as saying no to a partner or practicing public speaking, can help anxious people confront their anxiousness and build confidence. Grounding and regulating practices can also help manage anxiety in challenging situations.

Is Anxious Attachment More in Women? (00:46:31)

  • Men tend to have avoidant attachment styles, while women are more likely to have anxious attachment styles.
  • Societal norms and expectations contribute to these attachment styles, with men being socialized to isolate and women to seek external validation.
  • Anxious attachment in men may carry an additional layer of shame due to the masculine ideal of stoicism and self-reliance.
  • Shame, which develops early in life as a protective mechanism, can be used as a form of "dark motivation" to achieve success, but it can also lead to negative consequences in relationships and personal well-being.
  • Modern culture encourages women to display avoidant behaviors and shut down emotionally, reversing traditional gender roles.
  • Using shame as a behavioral change mechanism on social media and within ourselves can be toxic and have negative psychological and relational outcomes.
  • Anxious attachment is characterized by a preoccupation with the relationship and a fear of abandonment, leading to constant reassurance-seeking and overthinking interactions.

Understanding Avoidant Attachment (00:53:27)

  • Avoidant attachment forms when caregivers are emotionally distant, inconsistent, or rejecting, leading to difficulty expressing needs, fear of responsibility, and withdrawal from relationships.
  • Anxious attachment forms when caregivers are emotionally distant and untrustworthy, leading to a constant need for reassurance, fear of abandonment, and difficulty trusting others.
  • Avoidant attachment involves hiding emotions and avoiding difficult conversations, while dismissive avoidants diminish the importance of attachment and intimacy due to learned helplessness.
  • Fearful avoidants genuinely fear connection and intimacy due to childhood trauma that made them perceive relationships as damaging or dangerous.

What Does Being Avoidant Feel Like? (01:03:11)

  • Avoidant attachment style is characterized by a deep sense of loneliness and a yearning for connection, but with a belief that true connection is impossible.
  • Avoidants fear getting what they want due to perfectionism and overthinking, leading to disconnection from their own needs and a fear of expressing them.
  • Avoidants struggle to trust others, even professionals, and may feel unworthy of love or support.
  • As they get closer to someone, avoidants experience increased danger signals in their bodies, leading to a desire to push the person away.
  • Avoidant attachment behaviors are often controlling and manipulative because avoidants have difficulty trusting others.

How to Regulate Avoidant Attachment (01:12:29)

  • Avoidant attachment, stemming from childhood experiences, impacts adult relationships.
  • Prioritize expressing your wants and feelings, even if it's uncomfortable, and take ownership of your behaviors and defense mechanisms.
  • Use shutdowns as opportunities for reconnection and repair, rather than avoiding communication.
  • Practice relational soothing by regulating your nervous system through healthy interactions with your partner.
  • Healing attachment dysfunction involves re-acclimating the nervous system to trust through experiences of safety and connection.
  • Avoidant individuals need to practice getting uncomfortably close, addressing resistance to closeness as a normal response from protective mechanisms.
  • Trusting relationships can be challenging, especially with trust issues, but addressing and working on these issues is crucial.
  • Fearful avoidant attachment combines anxious and avoidant attachment styles, characterized by a desire for intimacy while feeling unlovable and distrustful.
  • Individuals with fearful avoidant attachment may cycle between wanting closeness and pushing others away.
  • Overcoming fearful avoidant attachment requires working on both anxious and avoidant tendencies, including developing self-trust, regulating emotions, and building trust in relationships.

Can You Improve Attachment on Your Own? (01:24:49)

  • Attachment styles can be improved through personal growth and healthy relationships.
  • The manosphere's transactional view of relationships lacks emotional depth and fails to capture the complexity of love and connection.
  • Personal development should extend beyond comfort zones and into uncomfortable domains, including relationships and conversations.
  • Attachment styles are based on a person's comfort level in relationships and conversations, and it is important to be comfortable with the uncomfortable in these situations.

Having a Foggy Memory of Childhood (01:30:18)

  • Childhood experiences and formative incidents shape attachment styles in adulthood, even if specific memories are lacking.
  • Exploring felt experiences, sensations, and emotions from childhood can provide insights into attachment patterns, as the body holds valuable information.
  • Emotions are the language of the body and nervous system, and men, in particular, need to learn to decipher and express their feelings to understand their attachment patterns.
  • Over-relying on the mind and neglecting the body's data can hinder self-awareness and perpetuate unhealthy relationship patterns.
  • Integrating emotions and understanding feelings is crucial, although many people, especially men, struggle to describe their emotions accurately.

How to Help an Anxious/Avoidant Partner (01:35:48)

  • For anxious partners, avoid trying to solve their problems directly. Instead, ask what they need to feel better and support them through the process.
  • Practice co-regulation exercises with your anxious partner to reduce anxiety.
  • Reassure your anxious partner of your support and commitment to the relationship.
  • For avoidant partners, inquire about their interest in maintaining a consistent connection and their willingness to work towards it.
  • Avoidant partners need to confront their discomfort and fear of connection for the relationship to improve.
  • Avoid using threats or demands with avoidant partners, as this can reinforce their avoidant behavior.
  • Offer choices to avoidant partners as often as possible to reinforce their sense of control.
  • Keep inviting and opening the door for your avoidant partner to express themselves and connect with you.

Where to Find Connor (01:42:44)

  • Connor Beaton's website: mantalks.com
  • Mantalk's Instagram page
  • Mantalk's podcast
  • Connor's book: "Men's Work"

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