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Attachment Issues – The Baggage Dilemma

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Family of origin issues can have long-lasting affects that most people don’t recognize except in the most subtle of circumstances. We are guided by the relationships and how we interact with them through our first relationships and how we view ourselves as a result:

We find and define our safety, security, and attachment behaviors through them. Healthy, strong, and regulated attachment is typically formed in infancy then varying degrees of change for love and view of a healthy bond is determined through the end of childhood.

Our view of self can be greatly affected during these formative years and not recognize the baggage that we bring with us.  Self-awareness and creating a sense of curiosity about ourselves and why we respond the way we do are front and center in this area.  

The arena of relationships can be difficult to navigate with an unhealthy attachment style as it prevents us from engaging within a relationship with vulnerability and ease.  It is more often formed through validation outside of one’s self.  We find that there are two modes that we operate within:

  1. You give me what I need and I love you in return.
  2. You don’t give me what I need because I want you to inherently know what I need without expressing my needs and when you don’t, I begin to self-sabotage and push you away.
  3. You are emotionally clingy and needy requiring constant reinforcement.
  4. You act out or are significantly negative pushing others away.
  5. You become more disconnected and disengaged in the relationship.

How do you break the cycle?

The very first component of moving forward is accepting your responsibility in your behavior pattern and becoming aware that you are indeed acting or better yet reacting. To find the level of love that you desire requires you to become curious about you.  What does that mean?

  1. When you begin to feel upset, resentful, angry, or dismissive, ask yourself, Why am I feeling this way? Where is this coming from? What am I feeling? Name the emotions and frame it in context of the why and the where.
  2. While I am not a therapist, it can help to examine points of origin to locate the place of trauma and where it began.  This is where you started packing your baggage and carrying it with you.
  3. Unpack your feelings and sharing them with someone that you trust and can be 100% vulnerable with is critical to change.  You cannot keep choking it down as it just exacerbates the issue.
  4. Be open and accountable for your actions.
  5. Ask for what you need and if that is not something your love partner can provide then make decisions based on facts not feelings or emotions.
  6. Can a relationship coach or marital therapist help in such instances? The answer is yes if you are open to the process and both are willing to do the work.  They also must each do the work.
  7. Establish boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable for each person.  If you just think that the other person should just know without you asking that is a recipe for failure.  How do I know?  Because I was the classic self-sabotaging person in most relationships until I made the changes that I am suggesting here.
  8. Change the premise on how you approach relationships.  First love and happiness are derived from anywhere outside of you.  It starts within and can be additive with another provided that you invest in open and accountable communication.  
  9. Look at your partner with the mindset that they are doing the best that they can and with best of intentions.  
  10. Avoid rumination or negative self-talk as it does nothing but create a false narrative that fosters anxiety, overwhelm, and depression.  Speak to yourself as you would someone that you love and care for.
  11. Share openly with your partner with what you’re feeling. Be open, be transparent, and be kind.
  12. Provide and promote grace to yourself.

Don’t avoid the tough discussions with one another and know that you will probably have disagreements.  Talk through them.  Listen to respond, don’t react, don’t lash out, and don’t retreat.  Take a break and say I’m not able to process this at the moment.  Can we take a 30-minute pause and then circle back?  I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by our conversation and I need to take it all in so that I can respond more appropriately instead of reacting.

Setting boundaries even in disagreements is healing for both parties. It is ok to share your needs, your fears, your hurts, and accepting your role in the disagreement.  Discussing how to disagree in advance with the knowledge of your particular attachment issues can be incredibly freeing. When I finally unraveled mine, it was a game changer. 

Be good to one another and to yourself.  Things don’t change overnight, but change is incredibly healthy and I’d love to help you be part of that change.

From my heart to yours.

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