March 13, 2024

The Key to Moving from Anxious Attachment to Secure Attachment.

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From when you started your dating life, you remember panicking when your boyfriend or girlfriend would say “bye,” thinking they would in fact never come back or talk to you again.

When starting a relationship, you are always the one in a hurry to plan the next encounter.

When someone says “I’ll call you later,” you need to know when exactly; you’ll make yourself available at the time of the call and will be biting your nails during the extra three minutes it took for that phone to ring.

You are super surprised when someone comes back, even though they said they would, because you always expect to be let down.

You often feel like “the one who loves the most” with your partner.

Breakups are hell, even more for you because whether you are 15 or 50, you think you’ll never have another opportunity to experience love again.

If your love life would be a movie, the title would be “Waiting.”

When you are anxiously attached, you struggle with separation and space between you and a romantic partner (or a potential one).

This isn’t a trait; this is wiring. Your nervous system anticipates a danger when the other person is out of sight.

It’s because when you were an infant, your caregivers might have been neglecting you, emotionally unavailable, or inconsistent when it came to giving attention and affection.

And now when the person you love is out of reach, the danger for you, consciously or unconsciously, is to relive what you’ve been through as a child, feel the distress of having no one to help you to soothe and to regulate your nervous system when you needed it—which is actually a huge deal for a mammal.

Your coping mechanism to deal with these absences was to wait. Spending too much time waiting with an activated nervous system is traumatic; it belongs to the category of developmental trauma.

That’s why in your adult life waiting feels so terrible; it sends your body back to that memory of being in distress with no one who cared enough to give you what you needed.

Of course, someone with a more secure attachment style doesn’t like to wait either. But the difference is it doesn’t send them to that downward spiral of despair. Because they have a registered experience of their needs being met and their nervous system being soothed and regulated. So they trust they’ll find that again. It can look like faith or positivity, when in fact it’s written history in their body. This trust helps them to ask for what they need, to move on faster after non-satisfying relationships, and to move toward more nourishing ones.

Our brains are plastic, so the good news is that attachment styles can be rewired. The easiest way is to be lucky enough to be partnered with someone securely attached. Otherwise, it can be done with the help of a professional. I coach women, and sometimes men, to rewire their nervous system toward secure attachment. We do the deep work during sessions, but there’s a thinking pattern they all have in common, most often without being aware of it, that I can share with you in this article, for you to start shifting your neural pathways for good.

They de-center.

What does it mean when you de-center?

It means that when you relate, you spend more time living in the other person’s mind than in your own.

It can look like:

>> Wondering for hours about why this person doesn’t show up the way you want.

>> Trying to figure out what would the other person need to be able to choose you (therapy, rest, speaking to someone, have less financial problems, and so on).

>> Finding excuses for the other not to behave appropriately.

>> Spending more time talking about this relationship with others than experiencing it. It’s called an imaginary relationship.

Basically, a set of thinking patterns where you exhaust yourself trying to travel into their brains to figure them out, with this thought error that if you would, things would change.

Because now you’re probably waiting—which is your trauma response—in distress because you don’t get what you want. Feeling you don’t have any other choice, like when you were little, because then you only had access to those caregivers. When in fact, today as an adult, you have the choice.

So to start repatterning your brain differently, do this. It’s super simple and it works.

Each time you catch yourself de-centering, come back to yourself with two questions:

>> How do I feel right now?

>> What do I want right now?

And stay with these two answers; they are all that you need to figure out your next step at the moment. They will stop you from leaking your energy toward this person’s brain again and again, and shift your perspective therefore your thinking patterns, your behaviour, and at the end, your neural pathways. Back to you. Put yourself at the centre of this relationship; that’s what securely attached people do naturally.

If you find out that what you feel right now is overwhelming, then the next step is to deepen with a professional to make that lighter and manageable for you to stop abandoning yourself.

To conclude, I want to share with you this powerful quote from Maya Angelou:

“ When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”


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