So the Instagram post above from Danielle LePorte saying halt all relationships until you read this book got me curious. I can say I certainly agree with the recommendation above, “Attached” by Amir Levine M.D. should be required reading if you have any relationships in your life – EVER!
It’s a book about feelings, backed up with scientific data about attachment theory and how it impacts us as adults. As I read about how it’s actually okay to need reassurance from your partner, how it’s not “needy” to have needs and that our ability to step into the world on our own most often stems from the knowledge that there is someone we can count on in our corner (it’s called the dependency paradox), I stood up and said “AH-HA! This completely explains my whole relationship life since birth!!!!”
The book describes the three attachment styles: anxious, avoidant and secure. Notice the use of the word STYLES. This is because none of the systems we use are “wrong”, right, good, bad. They are simply coping systems. Strategies we learn from a wide variety of factors. It’s just how we learn to respond and what sets off our system. Which means we can totally learn other ways of coping if we choose to.
This information, written by the way, as if the author had possibly been monitoring my relationships as a science experiment since at least the eighth grade, was presented in a way that never caused me to feel like I am high maintenance, or as I often feel… crazy for my anxious attachment style. In fact, just understanding how & why I go on what I call “RED ALERT!” in relationships actually makes total sense due to some meanings I have put on things since early in life.
Reading this info got me to thinking about my coach - Joy. She has never ever made me think I was “wrong” for how I feel. It’s quite a gift. That feeling that someone will hear you, reassure you, help you re-frame and encourage you to feel what you feel… amazing and transformative. It’s like behind the scene’s support that has given me the ability to tap back into my courage and step back out into the world & show up more fully in my light.
So often we are quick to tell others and ourselves “Oh, you shouldn’t feel that way" or "Stop feeling that way!" which is NOT encouraging! Instead if we just open a window and offer a possible light that might not have been in view to the person – so they can feel their own power and supported enough to take their own initiatives, rather than trying to fix it for them - it can have a huge impact. As I recently heard Martha Beck say…”There is a big difference between saying ‘here is the way and I’m going to show it to you’ (while that can be powerful…)’I’m going to help you know that you can find a way’ is a very different feeling.” It helps us feel more SANE as well as safe when we have a secure base of support and reassurance that isn’t telling us we need to be other than exactly how we are.
Finding your tribe, those who can be available, not interfere-but provide support and encourage you is what helps us to be more empowered. By relying on someone, we become more independent… there’s that paradox! Learning that it's okay to rely on others can be quite a challenge if you have a limiting belief that it is "weak" or "needy" or you oughtta be stronger than that. All untrue.
My anxious attachment style has been highly activated the past three years or so. My long-time steady support/reassurance system went through a huge change which sort of forced me to rely more or differently on some of the members of my tribe, & even find new members like Joy - since a big piece of my support system felt very unavailable. This unavailability caused me to operate pretty much on “RED ALERT!” 24/7 for about 34 months. It also had me thinking I needed to try to NOT rely on others and only myself more. No wonder I have felt cra-cra and like I was derailed from my usual self. I’m telling you – this book has given me amazing awareness into my systems in relationships. Go. Get. It.
So once we are aware, Joy tells me we have to accept. I’ve heard this from mentors and other life coaches as well. Rather than trying to tell ourselves we “shouldn’t” feel what we feel – accept that we feel that way. It’s the only chance we have to make a different choice in our behavior. Our way of being is just our M.O., a learned style. With awareness and acceptance – looking for the benefits in our style, we can then practice other styles as well by choosing to, rather than being on auto-pilot.
When my relationships feel threatened or uncertain – my anxious attachment style kicks in and it’s nearly impossible to calm it down till things feel safe. One thing that can help us feel safe is to know who has our back and also having someone else’s back is a very empowering feeling. Give it a try. Who can you show up for in your life and let them know you believe in them? Who can you give a boost to by simply loving and accepting them?
I have mentioned my coach Joy in my Sandy Chat’s numerous times in the past two years. She is launching a new website today that is super cool! Check it out here!
Next time - more on attachment theory and what it means for those with an anxious style as well as ways we can upgrade our systems to more "secure". I have a living example in my life that it is possible to radically change your attachment style! More next time.
What’s in my ear right now… Hey Ahab
Great gospel-ish/blusey song with an awesome message. Plus, c’mon… it’s Elton and Leon Russel.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!