The Healing Journey of an Unhealthy Attachment Style
How to remove personal attachment barriers and enjoy a healthy intimate relationship
Translated from: 情感依附障礙的醫治之旅
Have you given your family and friends some intimate time during this Lunar New Year? Still trapped in a strained relationship waiting to be healed? Still waiting for my advice on how to improve and change your attachment style? Then we shall wait no longer and start on this journey of attachment healing. I will share with you some of the ways that bring about a self-transformational change without visiting a psychiatrist or a therapist.
Here comes the first stop of our journey. Ask yourself the following question:
“Do I want to change and become a better person?”
The reason for asking ourselves this question is that no one could ever activate a change in somebody else unless that person truly seeks one. As the great Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”, the same goes for those helping themselves on this journey. When we grow the mindset of getting well, we are becoming an active participant of the changing process, learning to take personal responsibilities of our lives, and letting go of past mistakes made either by ourselves or others that have blocked our way to happiness. If you feel ready for the change, let us march on this fishing adventure!
Three Game Changers for One’s Attachment Style
I. Scrutinize Traumatic Events and Construct a Coherent Narrative
Oftentimes, one of the major reasons that hinder us from enjoying an intimate relationship lies in the fact that we never took the time to review our scars from the past, such as experiencing rejections in a relationship or the loss of a beloved person. When daily stressors engulf us in every aspect and yet we never pause for a timeout reflecting on each event, we tend to bury these negative memories in our subconsciousness. Gradually, we consider ourselves to be healthy and happy individuals while the truth is that we are not. We are frequently involved in heated arguments with our partner and/or beloved ones; sometimes, we accuse others for causing the scene, ignoring our personal problems in the case.
Chances are we suffered in our intimate relationship with our parents or primary caregivers, but marking out the traces of our traumas through written journals as well as verbal exchanges may be a good way to dissect our emotions of anxiety and fear with authenticity (Firestone, 2018). Soon, you will find yourself relinquishing your childhood pains and reconciling with others and, most importantly, with the you in the past.
II. Listening to Your Inner Self
While most people take emotion and cognition to be two unrelated systems, perhaps even two contradictory mechanisms, they are, in reality, interdependent and interrelated (Storbeck & Clore, 2007). Try referring to one of the most recent events of which you deemed to be unreasonable or unfair, did you experience a change in your mood? Notwithstanding, I do not mean a complete block-out from negative memories—if you still remember what we said earlier—on the contrary, I encourage you to lend more ears on your inner voice.
What is your first emotional response when recalling these events? Angry? Frustrated? Piercing? Jealous? Demeaning? Desperate? Nauseous? Instantly, you must ask yourself, “Why? Why am I feeling _____?” Meanwhile, you must go on a search for the root cause of this emotion, converse with yourself, and retell the story to yourself, while eluding the desire to attribute the claim on someone else until you are certain that you have found the right answer to the question. When you become capable of facing these discomforts, you will eventually get rid of the old ways you used to handle your relationships (Halchuk, Makinen, & Johnson, 2010). It is to be noted that negative memories of the past will still make you sad, but what is different is that you are no longer haunted by them.
III. Support from the community and personal faith
A research by the New York University reveals that apart from one’s relationship with the primary caregiver(s), one’s attachment style may also be influenced by the relationships with other attachment figures (Cook, Valera, Wood, Calebs & Wilson, 2019). Cook and her colleagues (2019) reasoned that when an individual is accepted by his/her community (e.g. church, neighborhood) and is encouraged to face their imperfections, this person will likely feel more secure toward intimacy.
In addition, Rowatt and Kirkpatrick (2002) also found in their study that one’s relationship with God reflects his/her relationship with other humans, which therefore implies that someone with an unhealthy attachment style may reconstruct their mode of intimacy through spiritual healing. In other words, he/she may regard the One most high as an important attachment figure and ultimately redefine their views of an intimate relationship.
In the course of self-discovery and restoration, you may possibly be swept away by a heap of negativity and uncomfortableness from which you desire an escape and denial; if that’s the case, then I am here to congratulate on finally experiencing a big step forward to your personal change. When you are able to recollect the past without anger and hopelessness, then I am sure you are ready for the start of a bright new future. Carry on!
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