Knowing and healing your attachment style

9 May 2022

We all have relationships, whether these are romantic, platonic or with family, we need other people in our lives to feel good and connected. However, sometimes we do not realize that there is a lot more to how we maintain and behave in these relationships. Yes, we are talking about attachment styles.

What is an attachment style?

Perhaps you have heard about these before, but not a lot of people are aware of how much their attachment style is impacting their relationships and therefore themselves. So what are attachment styles? In a simple phrase, it is how we relate, behave and attach ourselves to those around us. It is often reflected in the dynamics of our relationships.

Your attachment style is formed by (surprise, surprise) your childhood. The first relationship any of us will have is the one with our parents. How this develops will impact the way we view and treat the other relationships to come. Knowing whether you have an unhealthy and healthy attachment style can actually save you from a lot of frustration, disappointment and hurt in the future.

Types of attachment styles

There are four main attachment styles; avoidant, secure, ambivalent and disorganized. 

If you have an avoidant attachment style you may have grown up with unavailable parents. A child with this attachment style will show no distress when it is separated from its parents, because there is a lack of connection. Later in life this could show up as you not getting close to people, experiencing commitment issues and being extremely independent. Healing an avoidant attachment style often takes place within relationships. The biggest challenge will be to open up to others, allowing to let them in and trying to not walk away when it gets serious, scary or emotionally vulnerable. And sometimes, having to admit you might need others.

When you have a secure attachment style, good for you! You either grew up in a safe and secure environment or you have already done the healing in your later relationships. A person with a secure attachment style is able to maintain their relationships and connect safely to the people they are involved with. They are able to trust themselves and others and believe they are worthy of love.

If your attachment style is ambivalent your caregiver or parents may have been unreliable. This attachment is also known as being anxiously attached. Often when a household is chaotic, we learn that we cannot trust our parents to take care of us the way we need (physically and emotionally). The way this feels is that our needs weren’t important enough to be met. Eventually this might show up in a way where you have a constant concern whether people will reciprocate your needs and desire for connection or intimacy. You might struggle with seeing others more positively than the way you view yourself. Healing this attachment style is often done by learning how to put yourself first, learning to love and trust yourself and by spending time alone to prevent co-dependency.

When you have a disorganized (fearful) attachment style you might have a mixture of the avoidant and ambivalent. It often is a result of consistent trauma or abuse during childhood. The child doesn’t know how to adapt or relate to its parents due to their behaviour being unpredictable. The way this manifests itself is being a person who fears intimacy and relationships, but really wants it. This is the difference between the disorganized and avoidant. An avoidant might feel like they genuinely do not need anybody. The disorganized may also have the tendency to run away, however they actually do want to experience connection and feel that they need it. Healing this attachment style is learning how to trust other people with your needs. It starts with getting to know yourself and fulfilling your own needs and then slowly starting to communicate them to those around you. This is a process of surrendering and seeing that others are willing to show up for us.

Every person is different and will have several traits from these attachment styles. You could view it more like a scale. How far away from secure are you? Want to know where you are at when it comes to this? Then try this quick attachment style test.