Imagine no longer panicking when people want to get closer or know you more intimately. If you have an avoidant attachment style, you are likely no stranger to the pain of feeling unfulfilled, isolated, and that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to please the people you care about. An insecure attachment style can predispose us to unhealthy relationship dynamics, but the good news is that we can heal our attachment wounds and move towards more secure relationships. In this post, I’ll cover four tools for jumpstarting the healing process if you have an avoidant attachment style.
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the #1 tool I recommend for healing avoidant attachment. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of being fully present with whatever is happening right now…with acceptance and non-judgment. It’s about noticing and observing (note that I didn’t say “liking” or “approving of”) whatever is happening, as it is occurring, and can be a foundational tool for positive change in your life. Mindfulness is a practice, and it requires practice as well. Download my free eight-minute mindfulness meditation and kickstart yours today!
- Focus on mutual collaboration in relationships. Being independent and self-sufficient is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, it’s probably helped you survive and stay safe thus far. A big part of healing avoidant attachment, however, is learning to use the other tools in your toolbox, one of which is collaboration. Take some time to write down two lists: the first being ways you can give support to your friends/partner/etc., and the second being ways in which you like to receive support from others. Once you have your lists, put the items into action! Healthy relationships involve a balance of mutual give and take, so don’t be afraid to let your friends know how they can support you, or to ask them how they like to be supported as well.
- Remind yourself of the good stuff. People with avoidant attachment can have a tendency to interpret others’ behavior negatively. Unless your friends/partner/loved ones give you concrete evidence to the contrary, assume they have positive intentions. Having a mindfulness practice (see #1 above) can help you recognize when you’re engaging in this behavior and thought records can be a great tool for challenging these beliefs. It may also help to remind yourself on a regular basis about why you chose your friends/partner/loved ones. What positive qualities drew you to them? Why are you grateful for them?
- Self-Compassion. If you have chosen this journey, remember that healing is an inherently imperfect process, and progress is not always linear (in fact, it almost never is). Try not to blame or criticize yourself for having an avoidant attachment style. Instead, focus on adapting a more loving, accepting attitude towards yourself, your needs and challenges in relationships. Remember that both your triumphs and setbacks are part of the healing process, and that no matter what happens, no matter how many times you stumble or falter, you are worthy…and you are probably doing better than you think.
Everyone deserves healthy relationships, including you. If you practice these tools consistently, you will be taking the first valuable steps towards healing your avoidant attachment and embodying healthier ways of relating to both yourself and others.
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Source: Levine, A. & Heller, R. Attached (2010). New York, NY: Penguin.
This site is for informational purposes only. It isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any mental health problems and is not intended as psychological advice.
© 2022 Gina Davis, PsyD. All rights reserved.