Insecure Attachment: Keys to Overcoming It

You are most likely familiar with the fact that people operate differently within relationships. Self-confident people often express their feelings freely with their significant others. Those with codependency or avoidance, on the other hand, are resistant to vulnerability. Attachment styles are demonstrated in these examples. The good news is that you can change these thought patterns and behavior patterns if you struggle with the latter, also known as insecure attachment style.

First, understanding insecure attachment: what it is, how it works, and where it comes from, is essential. We chatted with New York City-based neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, Ph.D., a specialist who directs Comprehend the Mind, a center that diagnoses and treats neuropsychological, psychological, and educational challenges.

How do secure attachments work?

Those with insecure attachment “find it challenging to form emotional bonds with others, and they often fear showing vulnerability out of fear of being abandoned,” explains Dr. Hafeez. According to her, an insecure attachment style is typically caused by an inconsistent and unsupportive environment where the child did not receive the proper love and attention from their parents or caregivers.

On the other hand, having healthy, trusting relationships is a sign of secure attachment. “These individuals have high self-esteem and are comfortable expressing their feelings with their partners,” Dr. Hafeez says.

Attachment insecurity and how it manifests in relationships

Insecure attachments come in three forms: anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. Adult relationships are characterized by individual differences.

Angry

According to Dr. Hafeez, this attachment style involves being codependent, overthinking, and second-guessing whether you have contributed too much or too little in a relationship. The children with anxious insecure attachment could not count on their caregivers or parents being there when they needed them, she says. In order to catch their parents’ attention, these children become clingy, demanding, and distressed.”

Avoidance

This attachment style is characterized by an unwillingness to commit and a tendency to avoid relationships. Dr. Hafeez says this is due to fear of commitment. Parents who failed to properly cater to their children’s needs during their childhood can cause this. Dr. Hafeez from the University of Pennsylvania says the parents ignored their child’s wants and needs and didn’t help them with challenges they faced. These children began shutting down their feelings, unable to rely on anyone other than themselves for support.”

Unorganized

In addition to avoiding relationships, this attachment style also exhibits an avoidant insecure attachment style. Dr. Hafeez emphasizes that those with a disorganized insecure attachment style desire a relationship, whereas those with an avoidant insecure attachment style do not. The individuals who exhibit this attachment style were often traumatized as children. As a result, they behave aggressively and refuse their parents’ care, Dr. Hafeez notes.

In addition, Dr. Hafeez asserts that humans are multidimensional, and therefore, multiple attachment styles may exist, depending on the individual’s childhood and the situation. According to Dr. Hafeez, when someone is in a familiar situation where they feel comfortable, they are likely to be more self-assured. They may become anxious and avoidant if their partner gives them a reason to doubt their loyalty.

A guide to overcoming insecure attachment

In order to deal with insecure attachment, Dr. Hafeez recommends searching for signs of childhood trauma. Relationships will continue to struggle if you don’t take this crucial step. She cautions that you should get help unpacking things from a professional who can help you. According to Dr. Hafeez, once you identify the underlying trauma, you can gradually improve your relationship with yourself and your environment, ultimately creating a safe and secure environment.

Furthermore, Dr. Hafeez recommends gradual exposure to emotionally intimate situations to overcome the discomfort experienced by people with insecure attachment styles. Playing a “36 questions to fall in love” game, for instance, may help you better express your thoughts and feelings to your partner. Dr. Hafeez says this exercise is designed to help people explore their more enduring connection with their partner. Rather than doing it independently, this activity empowers you to open up and be vulnerable.

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