When we are children, our parents and caregivers nurture us in ways that shape how we love and form bonds for the rest of our lives.
If we were fortunate enough to enjoy a secure attachment, that meant that our parents/caregivers consistently attended to our needs with the right level of sensitivity.
We then grew up to be confident that our needs would be met but if they weren’t, no sweat. We just keep it moving.
But if we weren’t so fortunate, we instead had to suffer an insecure attachment. There are three types of insecure attachment styles, each with their own core wound.
Core Wound: Love is inconsistent
If you are anxious-attached, your primary caregiver appropriately attended to your needs occasionally. You couldn’t depend on them to be there for you all the time.
As a result, you became an adult that was always on edge and wondering if things would work out in relationships because who the hell knows if it really is going to work out? This is what you literally think to yourself.
You become very invested in your relationships because you are trying to finally solve that subconscious wound of abandonment from infancy.
But because you’re doing too much, you may scare people away with your intensity or the slightest distancing the other person does is like reopening your wound with a crowbar.
You have to remind yourself daily that love is all around you and that there are people who can give love consistently. By replacing the unconscious notion that no one is going to be there for you with this new one, you change your filter of perception and will begin to see the appropriate suitors.
When the negative self-talk emerges of “he’s leaving because he doesn’t care about me” or “I’m afraid to approach her because she’ll probably disappoint me too” don’t try to get rid of it. That’ll only make them louder.
Honor the fact that those thoughts came up but understand that they would only block you from a potentially happy relationship and let them go.
Core Wound: Love? What’s that?
If you have the avoidant attachment style, your primary caregiver was not emotionally present in your life. As a result, you develop the subconscious notion that love doesn’t exist.
Sure, you might watch a rom-com or listen to a love song. Hell, you might even have friends who have loving relationships. It ultimately doesn’t matter because your brain cannot process it other than that it must be an illusion.
You grew up to be self-sufficient and especially distant in your romances. The distance you maintain is the past continuing to live itself through you. You believe that even if you were to be loving, you would be abandoned anyway because that’s what happened to you as a child.
At the end of the day, the truth is that love exists. Chances are, you may want to explore this realm but are aware of your limitations or you care about someone but cannot help but maintain distance because it feels safe.
You must be mindful. When you feel the impulse to not share a detail or even to lie; when you feel the connection deepening and fear arises, let those feelings be there. Do not try to push them away.
I know this may sound counter-intuitive, especially for the feeling to not share, but we aren’t making judgments on what the right or wrong thing is. We just want to be aware of the feelings when they come up so that they can no longer possess us at will.
When that is done, then you can make the decision to share and let your partner see the vulnerable you or to let the deepening of the connection happen.
Core Wound: Love is pain
If you are fearful-attached, your caregiver’s attempt at love inspired fear within you. Whether they were abusive toward you (perhaps because they were fearful of you), or they were battling their own demons and couldn’t help you, you unfortunately learnt that “love” was fear and suffering.
Nevertheless, you cannot help but want actual love. And the day you finally get into a relationship will be both the happiest day of your life and the beginning of a sequel you were hoping to avoid.
Because you think love is about pain and fear, you will unconsciously inspire those same feelings in your partner or be in a constant state of hyper-vigilance so that they don’t hurt you.
But if you haven’t had a relationship (or haven’t had one in a long time), it doesn’t stop you from wanting one but still being very fearful of what would happen if you got one. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Because fearful attachment is having both the worry of inconsistent love and the avoidance of impending doom, the solution is a combination of both of the previous attachment styles.
You must watch out for the critical self-talk that would seek to sabotage the relationship or your ability to attract a relationship. You must also notice your impulses to avoid being vulnerable, honest or present in the relationship, and then choose to be vulnerable, honest and present.
Understanding that love is acceptance of who one is is also crucial as it helps you remember that you may have an insecure attachment style, but hating on it and any potential missteps you make isn’t going to help you. It also helps when your partner makes a mistake because you know that they aren’t perfect either.
Each of the three insecure attachment styles are filters that block out love and highlight fear. When our brains are wired to look for threats, all we see are threats.
The problem comes up when some of these threats are attractive. That’s when the anxiety kicks in and/or we do our best to avoid things being too deep. Make no mistake, these people are still threats, but our subconscious urge for love makes us try to change this fearful character into a loving one.
Ultimately, if you commit to love, the impulses that are driven by fear will lose their power. You will begin to see people who can give love. Yes, you will still have to monitor your impulses and self-talk. But it will all be worth it when you re-parent yourself into secure attachment.