Our attachment style is based on our early relationships that we form as infants with our caregivers, which sets the blueprint for our relationships into adulthood.
As babies, we are totally dependent to be cared for, looked after and loved.
If those needs are not sufficiently met, we learn that care and emotional support are inconsistent.
This impacts our view of the world, how we relate in relationships and how our nervous system copes with stress.
The big question is, if all of this is happening while we are just helpless infants, are we able to change our attachment style as adults?
As an adult, an insecure attachment shows up as we start to explore romantic relationships.
You can find it difficult to have close relationships. Lacking the ability to trust and needing a lot of reassurance. Sometimes, out of a fear of being hurt, you can self sabotage your relationships out of fear. Often leading to short-term, or unfulfilling relationships.
It often makes relationships feel like hard work and can lead to unhappy relationships.
Without recognising these patterns, you can continue to seek out people who are emotionally unavailable. In many cases, you can end up missing the very thing that you needed in your earliest relationships yet did not get.
This can mean relationships that feel one sided and sometimes even toxic relationships.
Knowing you have an insecure attachment style often isn’t enough to be able to make the change to undo years of learned behaviour. Neural pathways have been formed with the general feeling of unease and discomfort that comes with relationships when you have an insecure attachment.
As we are creatures of habit, we naturally repeat patterns that feel familiar to us. It’s a challenge to break the cycle of unhealthy relationships.
So, is it within your control to be able to change your attachment style and undo the negative experiences of relationships from the past?
The simple answer is yes. (We can all collectively breathe out a sigh of relief).
Luckily for us, our attachment style and how we relate in relationships is not set in stone.
Each relationship you experience has the potential to soothe your attachment anxieties or potentially make them worse. Where you focus your energy is what can determine what happens for you in the future.
You can repair the emotional wounds and change how you feel and how you deal with relationships as an adult, even if you’ve had toxic relationships in the past.
We do not need to be defined by the past or our negative experiences, we have the ability to acknowledge and understand our previous unmet needs.
If that’s something you want support with, my online program for women helps with exactly this and has a clear pathway to help you to feel confident, calm and supported. You’ll understand the exact steps you need to take so that you can stop feeling anxious about relationships and start having relationships where you feel loved, valued and cared for.
I’m Lizandra, an online psychotherapist based in St Albans. I help people to improve their relationships so that they can set boundaries, stop people pleasing and have healthier fulfilling relationships.