Let’s talk attachment styles…

How the fuck are you supposed to heal your relationship with yourself (body image, psychological healing, fitness, food, trauma, and more) and also be able to relate to others and overcome conflict in all of your relationships and find time for leisure, fun, and joy without wanting to curl up in a little ball!? Attachment Styles play a role in the way that we relate both intrapersonally (to yourself) and interpersonally (to others). They have an impact on the ways in which you view yourself, take responsibility, and gain resilience AND they impact the ways in which you perceive, connect, and communicate with others.

Let’s go over the 4 types of attachment styles:

  1. Preoccupied/Anxious Ambivalent *(High anxiety & low avoidance)
  2. Fearful Avoidant *(High anxiety & high avoidance)
  3. Secure *(Low anxiety & low avoidance)
  4. Dismissing Avoidant *(Low anxiety & high avoidance)

*High anxiety = Negative attitude toward self

*Low anxiety = Positive attitude toward self

*High avoidance = Negative attitude toward others

*Low avoidance = Positive attitude toward others

What does all of this jargon actually look like IRL?! Well, let me tell you, here’s some information that I’ve compiled through the research with a little twist – I’ve added in my own personal & professional opinion on how I believe that the attachment styles relate to fitness & health.

The anxious ambivalent person will feel like they are flawed and have some issues with low-esteem, they enjoy the company of other people and feel insecure about their relationships because they worry that others might view them as flawed too -they might view others as inconsistent or unwilling to commit. In regard to fitness and health maybe you are someone who binge eats regularly and then goes on a restrictive diet or hardcore exercise routine to make up for it.

The dismissing avoidant person will feel confident and independent, they may seem withdrawn and tend to keep others at arms length – they might view others as uncaring or unavailable to meet their needs. In regard to fitness and health maybe you are someone who likes to exercise frequently and in solitude – you’re not really into group fitness or being coached, you like to cook for yourself and have meals at home.

The fearful avoidant person will feel that they are flawed and that others are also untrustworthy, they fear that they are unlovable and try not to get too close in their relationships. In regard to fitness and health maybe you are someone who eats super duper healthy and exercises frequently for a short lived period of time and then doesn’t do any of this for months. You get down on yourself when you ‘fall of the wagon’ and find it difficult to work up the motivation to get back into things – until something strikes again and you’re back into the extreme opposite habits.

The secure person is able to be vulnerable with others and views others as trustworthy, they are able to engage in reciprocal relationships such as providing and accepting support from others. In regard to fitness and health, maybe you are someone who enjoys working out sometimes alone and sometimes with others, you general eat well balanced meals and you’re not afraid of a little dessert and a glass of wine here and there. You feel that you can go shopping and find clothes that look good on you, though there are some things that you don’t like about your appearance, but you present as confident and aren’t too worried about changing the way that you look.

Gaining this insight and awareness can be empowering! Which attachment style to do identify with the most? Click on one to learn more!

But Bria, you might ask – what the actual fuck am I supposed to do with this information? I think I’m ______ attachment style, so does this mean that I’m stuck in this way of reacting to my relationship with myself, others, my kids, at work, romantically?! – DON’T WORRY, although everyone has a “default style” based on how you learned to respond to having your needs met from ages 0-2,  like anything , we are humans and we can adapt, change, learn, and grow through neuroplasticity and rewiring our brains by practicing different ways of thinking, attending to our current needs and feelings, and behaving in new ways to create new neuropathways and connections within the brain.

The research has shown that people who are more avoidant (higher self-esteem but difficulty relying on others) can actually have better outcomes in their relationships than people who are more anxious (lower self-esteem and either keep others close or push them away). To me, this is incredible information because I think it demonstrates that if we truly focus on healing (not linear & a life long journey FYI) from within, getting in touch with our own emotions, desires, wants, needs, values, AND of course in reading the research, to me it seems like the most important part is to build up our own self-esteem (to me that means: showing up when you say you’re going to show up, trying, failing, learning, trying again, reaching out, practicing, accepting, and so much more) then we might have success in repairing our relationships with ourselves, our bodies, our friends, our romantic partners, our families, our children, & our co-workers. HECK, maybe you’ll even have enough insight and self-worth to generate energy to be empathetic, thoughtful and compassionate toward people that you don’t even know!

Final thoughts: Remember, the attachment style that you most identify with is likely what you’ll default to (depending on the situation) as a quick reaction – but I truly believe that we have the power to pause, reflect, and respond in ways that are more useful to us as we move forward.

References

  • Baumeister, R., & Bushman, B. Social Psychology and Human Nature. Cengage, 2017.
  • Knies, K., Bodalski, E., & Flory, F. (2020). Romantic relationships in adults with ADHD: The effect of partner attachment style on relationship quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, p. 1-23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407520953

2 thoughts on “Let’s talk attachment styles…

  1. This is so interesting, Bria! I think my natural tendency is anxious ambivalent but I’m working hard to become more secure. I haven’t seen anything before on how attachment styles relate to your relationship with food/exercise. Learned a lot from this post, thank you!

    1. Hi Chloë! I’m so glad that this resonated with you. Doing some research on this topic has really empowered me to feel like I can show up and do things differently in my relationships so that they are more successful and beneficial to everyone involved. You’re so right- it’s takes so much work to embody the qualities of secure, I’m so glad that you’re here and working on it too.

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