This is the third and last part of my article series on the Attachment theory and attachment styles. If you haven’t yet read the first two parts, you can find them HERE and HERE. In the previous parts I offered a short introduction into the attachment styles and how we develop them in childhood and I continued with the behaviours we exhibit in our relationships depending on our attachment style and discussed if we can exhibit a combination of these attachment styles (yes, we can). Now we’re going to talk about…
How do people with the different attachment styles react under stress?
People with different attachment styles may react differently to stress, based on their underlying attachment-related beliefs and behaviours. Here are some general patterns of how people with different attachment styles may react under stress:
- Secure attachment: People with a secure attachment style are generally able to cope well with stress. They tend to have a positive view of themselves and others, which helps them to feel supported and resilient in the face of challenges. They are likely to seek out support from others when needed, and are generally able to regulate their emotions effectively.
- Anxious-preoccupied attachment: People with an anxious attachment style may become more anxious and overwhelmed when faced with stress. They may struggle with self-doubt and worry about their ability to handle the situation, and may seek out reassurance and validation from others. They may also become more clingy or needy in their relationships, seeking out increased closeness and validation from their partners.
- Avoidant-dismissive attachment: People with an avoidant attachment style may become emotionally distant or withdraw when faced with stress. They may feel uncomfortable with emotional intimacy and may prefer to deal with stress on their own, rather than seeking out support from others. They may also minimize the impact of stress on their lives, and may struggle to express their emotions and needs to others.
- Fearful-avoidant (or disorganised) attachment: People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may react to stress in conflicting ways. They may simultaneously seek out closeness and support from others, while also fearing rejection or abandonment. They may struggle with a sense of overwhelm, and may have difficulty regulating their emotions effectively.
It’s important to remember that these are general patterns, and individuals may vary in their responses to stress based on a range of factors.
Can one transit from one of the insecure attachment styles to the secure attachment style?
Transitioning from an insecure attachment style to a more secure attachment style can be challenging, but it is possible with effort and self-reflection. Here are some strategies that may be helpful in moving towards a more secure attachment style:
- Recognize your attachment style: The first step in transitioning to a more secure attachment style is to recognize your current attachment style and the behaviors associated with it. This self-awareness can help you understand how your past experiences are impacting your current relationships.
- Identify triggers: Pay attention to the situations or behaviors that trigger your attachment-related anxiety or avoidance. Once you have identified these triggers, you can work to change your reactions to them.
- Challenge negative beliefs: People with insecure attachment styles often have negative beliefs about themselves, others, and relationships. Work on challenging these beliefs and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones.
- Practice self-soothing: If you have an anxious attachment style, learn to soothe yourself when you feel anxious or overwhelmed. Practice self-care and engage in activities that help you feel calm and relaxed.
- Communicate with your partner: If you have an avoidant attachment style, practice communicating with your partner about your feelings and needs. It can be helpful to start with small steps, such as sharing something you are comfortable with and gradually increasing your level of emotional vulnerability.
- Seek therapy: Consider seeking the help of a therapist who specializes in attachment-related issues. A therapist can help you identify your attachment style and develop strategies for moving towards a more secure attachment style.
Remember that transitioning to a more secure attachment style is a process, and it may take time and effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small steps towards progress.
Here are three books I recommend you to read on this subject + one podcast episode (unfortunately only in Romanian) which discusses the Attachment Styles.
- “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. This book offers a more accessible introduction to attachment theory, exploring how attachment styles can impact romantic relationships and offering practical advice for developing more secure attachments.
- “Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love” by Robert Karen. This book provides a comprehensive overview of attachment theory and research, exploring how early attachment experiences shape our capacity for intimacy and love in later life.
- “Hold on to Your Kids” is a book by Gabor Maté that explores the importance of attachment between children and their parents or caregivers, and argues that strong attachments are essential for healthy development and resilience, while highlighting the ways in which modern culture can disrupt these attachments.
- Podcast Episode – Mind Architect (in Romanian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkIe1rvhQLo&ab_channel=MindArchitect
If you found this article series useful, please do share it with others. Awareness is the first step in improving our lives and our relationships.
Take care of your self,
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