Attachment styles – how they mess you up, how they mess your children up, and how they mess the world up

Studies over and over again have shown that there are four key attachment styles, and we know that they are largely programmed before a child is eighteen months old. They mean everything.

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The psychological world has in recent years delved ever deeper into the concept of attachment styles, and as someone who resides in one of the insecure quadrants, I personally find it fascinating.  So, like most things I find fascinating, I’ve opted to write about it.  This is a big, and it’s hellish important.  I want everyone in the world to read this.  Maybe that’s ambitious, but until everyone in the world understands this the world is doomed to suffer.  You suffer.  I suffer.  The planet suffers.  We all suffer.  Maybe it has to be that way, but I’ll be damned if I don’t keep on trying to reduce the amount of suffering, and increase the amount of love.  If ever was a time that this is needed it is now.  Share this post, not for me, not for you, but for the world.  Do it as an offering of love to those who need to read it (which is nearly everyone).

Studies over and over and over again have shown that there are essentially four key attachment styles, and we know that they are largely programmed before a child is eighteen months old, but that the psychological development of an attachment style continues until the child is three.  After that, they’re a bit more resilient and ready to handle the world a lot more effectively without the careful eye of the primary care giver on them all the time.

How incredible is this!  That the most important determinant in a child’s ability to give and receive love, and ultimately, be happy as an adult is largely driven by the access to unconditional love from the primary care giver whenever it is needed in the first three years of life.  This means, essentially, that the main thing a parent has to do is to be there most of the time, and be present, mentally, when they are.  It sounds simple, but for many of us it’s the hardest thing.

I could go referencing a bunch of studies and articles on this, lord knows I’ve read enough, but I’m going to invite you instead to go do your own research.  Take your own action.  Take responsibility.  Maybe you know this already (you do, intuitively, know that your child needs you there, and needs you attentive, it’s built into our DNA, but many of us have forgotten, or have lost touch with our intuition).  Maybe you need a reminder.  A reminder to stop fretting about work, or money, or god knows what else.  Stop fretting full stop.  If you fret, your child frets.  Anxious parents create anxious children, who become anxious adults, who have children…and so the cycle continues.  I know you want what’s best for your child/children, so if the content below speaks to you, you’ll go study up.  Look up attachment styles.  Read the work of Gabor Mate on childhood trauma.

But first, read the rest of this.

If you were triggered, then take a moment, close your eyes, breathe a couple of deep breaths and remind yourself that is isn’t an attack on you, this is merely a man in Australia sitting down to write some stuff that might help you, and your family to enjoy a better standard of happiness and contentment in your lives.  To create more fulfilling relationships.  If you don’t agree with it, that’s fine, but it’s no reason to get angry, that’s just your ego talking.  If you don’t agree, that’s cool, I’m not offended, you’re entitled to your opinion, I really don’t care what you think of me.  Cool, now that’s out of the way, let’s crack on.

Until recently, many parents, especially in the West, had got into the habit of handing their babies over to childminders and childcare facilities 6-12 months after they have been born, in order to protect their careers, in order to be able to pay the bills.  Some mothers simply wanted to go back to their careers because they loved their careers, but did they realise what impact this might have on their young children?  How it may damage the ability of their offspring to be happy?  How it may drive their offspring towards a life of substance addiction, loneliness or chronic lone wolf syndrome, or both? (I’m not sure if that is a syndrome, but it should be, humans are social creatures who desire intimate relationships when we’re physically and emotionally healthy).  Do these these mothers realise that they are essentially saying “yes, I value my career over the future happiness of my child?”.  I would hazard to guess not. It’s likely more of a case of: “well, it’s the done thing, so and so put their’s into childcare and they seem fine, and anyway I’m just too busy/bored to not”

Yes, of course kids need a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, but everything else, the toys, the expensive education, the expensive holidays, the activities, blah blah blah, ultimately are of secondary importance.  All the shit people work themselves into the ground in order to provide for their kids, in order for them to be happy, is actually just fluff.  The kids need happy, present parents primarily.  Don’t sweat the other stuff.  When people become a parent they have one job:

A parent’s responsibility is to create a safe, happy and loving environment for the child.  A child’s responsibility is to be loved, that is all, nothing more.

Read that again.  A child is not responsible for a parent’s happiness.  A child is not responsible for making an adult feel loved, or worthy.  As soon as a parent places that responsibility on their child it creates a dysfunctional relationship with love within that child.  The child will either seek to distance itself from the demands love, it won’t trust love, or it will start to believe they are not enough, not worthy of love, unless they give lots of love first, if they’re really well behaved, or really funny (lots of comedians found their skill from this lack of self love).  Of course that doesn’t mean a parent should molly-coddle a child, give in to its demands, or shower it with gifts and expensive toys.  Oh no, no, no!  The parent’s job is to raise that child to be secure and ready to go out into the world.  The child’s job is to learn, learn they are loved, how to receive love (which in turn will teach them how to give it too – clever huh), and how to be responsible.  They’ll do that naturally if the parents’ create a safe and loving and educational environment for them.

For a child below the age of three, a safe and loving environment looks like one where the primary care giver is there, and the primary care giver is happy to be there.  If that isn’t available, what happens is the child either becomes self-sufficient, and works out how to be okay without love from a parent.  They can’t trust in love, and will likely go on to reject it throughout their lives, or find themselves in relationships with insecure people, and thus don’t really give themselves to the relationship.  Or, the child becomes anxious, desperately, constantly looking outwards for the love that isn’t there.  This is more prevalent with children who have mothers who are anxious themselves.  These children will learn that love is not available, and has to be worked for, like they had to work to gain the attention of their anxious-preoccupied parent.  These children will become clingy, needy, desperate, anxious, scared, and more prone to sickness.  These children don’t believe themselves to be worthy of love, so they become people pleasers, constantly sacrificing themselves for the good of others, to their own detriment.

There is a big difference between being ‘there’ physically, and being present, mentally, in the moment.  Presence takes attention.  And we live in a world increasingly dominated by distraction, so put down the phone, (if you do this) stop photographing and filming them constantly.  Do you remember how you used to feel when your Mum took your photo?  I hated it.  Kids don’t like it, so if you keep doing it, they won’t like you.  Presence requires the parent to be secure in themselves.  If you don’t like you are then your kids will pick up on that, they’re smarter emotionally than us a lot of the time.  If you don’t like you, then on a subconscious level they’ll struggle to understand why they should like you.

The fourth, and mercifully small minority group, is the children who become both avoidant of love, and anxious of not being enough to be loved.  Those children simultaneously go out into the world constantly looking for the love, and when it comes to them, they reject it.  It’s tragic, and for the 1-2% who fall into that category (although I suspect that category is growing bigger and bigger) they are confined to lifetime of anxiety and loneliness.  It’s not a good place to be, I know, personally, because I have spent my life residing in that category.  I’m gradually working my way out of it, but I am an anxious person, a people pleaser, and I also reject anyone who wants to love me.  Instead I have in the past gone looking for love from the very people who don’t want to give it to me.  And I became sick, chronically sick.  Stress and loneliness will do that do a person.  That being said, I’ve become conscious of all this because I got so sick I could no longer function.  So I went looking for answers in the form of this blog, and then in the form of exploring the mind, and body, and the nature of who we are as humans, and how we operate.  Hello yoga! Hello Tony Robbins!  Two years on, my people pleasing ways are on the wane.  My openness to love is on the rise.  I am gradually starting to re-learn through meditation and hypnosis that I am enough, that I am lovable, and that I want to love someone who respects and loves me back.  I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t see my value.  I have a huge amount of love to give, to everyone, and that’s why I’m writing this post.  I’m not here to please you, but I am here to serve you.  If you don’t like it, then, well, tough, you’re free to leave.  If you do like it then stay.  I’ll love you regardless, because that’s what unconditional love is.

I’ve said some potentially triggering things there, so it’s probably time to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, chill out, and then I’ll introduce you to the matrix with the four quadrants that will explain it all.  I’ll briefly run you through the four styles and what it may mean for you:

The secure – roughly 55-60% of the population

Sweet!  The lucky ones, keep working at being comfortable in your own skin, and focus your energy on sending your cherished and most important love outwards, you can afford to give it, because for you, it’s unlimited.  You can draw down on your infinite supply of the good stuff and give it to others.  Be grateful every day for this most wonderful of gifts.  This is literally the best thing you have, forget the houses, the cars, the toys, even your family.  You have the most important thing in the universe – use it for good!  Become conscious of this gift, and use that consciousness to extend compassion and kindness to those who did not receive the same gift you did.  Sadly, many of the people in this camp look at the people in the other camps and label them as bad people.  It’s not true, we’re all born pure, it’s the societal programming that turns people ‘bad’.  At their core they’re still good, and they can be saved.

The dismissive-avoiders – roughly 20% of the population

I see you. I hear you.  You’re confident, you get shit done, you’re motivated, you don’t need no one, life is all good.  BUT (there’s always a but) you find yourselves in relationships with people who are needy and anxious, which drives you mad so you run away, again, and again, until you’re so exhausted that you give up on love completely, or  find someone who is unavailable, and then you have this mediocre relationship where both of you kinda don’t give a shit.  It’s okay, but it ain’t exactly the stuff we dream of.  These people are sometimes drawn to saving others, they become heroes, because that fills the hole in their heart.  In other cases they become happy hermits, recluses who live life alone and are fairly okay with it.  These people need to learn how to trust in love, if they want to grow that is.  They need to lose their fear of love  (I can help with this)

The anxious-preoccupied – roughly 20% of the population

I see you.  I hear you.  You’re anxious.  You’re preoccupied.  But you also care so damn much about everyone else being happy, you care so damn much that you forget to care about your own happiness.  But you want it too, don’t you?  You want the love back that you so generously give, you want it, but you never seem to get it, because you demand it, sometimes vocally, often silently.  Without realising it you say “I gave you all this love, you owe me!”.  It pushes people away doesn’t it, because they never signed up to the unwritten contract you have with them in your head.  It drives you mad, because you just want to love and be loved, but it just doesn’t feel that happens, no matter what you try.  Because you don’t love yourself.  You never learnt that it was okay to just be you.  You are enough.  You don’t HAVE to DO anything.  I also know I can tell you this till I’m blue in the face and you still won’t believe me when I say you are enough.  And that’s okay, because you have this belief that you’re not enough in your subconscious from when you were a baby/toddler.  These people need to learn to love themselves (I can help with this)

The fearful-avoiders – roughly 1-2% of the population (and growing)

I see you. I hear you. You’re anxious, you’re preoccupied.  You are very similar to the group above, except unlike them (they’ll grab on to it), when love comes your way, you run away from it, like the dismissive avoiders.  You constantly go looking externally for the love that you don’t have for yourself, but when you do find it you run away and go looking for someone to confirm that you’re not lovable – you actively seek out people who won’t love you back, and that confirms the belief that you have in your subconscious.  You give up, exhausted, focus on yourself for a bit and then go again, and the process repeats.  It’s tragic, I feel your pain.  These people need to learn how to love themselves, and to learn how to not fear love.  A double whammy, plenty of juicy work to take on (I can help with this).

And that’s it really.  If you identify in the secure quadrant, then great, lucky you, no, seriously, become conscious of what an incredible gift that is you have there, and become conscious of the fact that the unhappy, insecure, angry, cold, needy, mean people are just traumatised toddlers in adult bodies who are either scared of love, or scared of not being enough to be loved, or both.  They deserve your love and compassion, not your dislike, hatred, pity and scorn.  The only way they will heal is if you people use your gifts to guide them into a place of trusting in love, and trusting that they are lovable.

If you identify in the other three brackets, then rejoice, because you are conscious of what is holding you back, and rejoice in your other gifts, your compassion, your empathy, your caring, your will and determination and sheer brute strength to carry on, to carry on loving, to carry on looking, to carry on trying to improve yourself.  You are the fighters.  Heal from this you are unstoppable.  Stop looking for other people to save you, or stop running away from that which scares you (avoiders, that includes you, I’m talking about love here).  People in this camp need to realise that they need to step up and do the work on themselves, for their benefit, for their loved one’s benefit, for their children’s benefit, for the whole world’s benefit.  Tony Robbins is a former fearful avoider, anxious abusive mother, and a father who left.  Look at him go now, bringing love and positivity into literally millions of people across the world.  Once the broken heal they are the ones who can heal those around them.

And whilst we’re talking, let’s come back to the secure people.  You people collect traumas too, bullying, heart break, grief, betrayal.  Unless you heal from those wounds in your subconscious you’re not at full strength.  You often have healing to do too, but things are good enough that you don’t bother.  Which is tragic, because you are the easiest to heal, give me one hour with you and you’ll feel brand new.  These people won’t reach out, because they’re comfortable, but they should.

I can help you.  All of you.  I know how to guide you into a deep state of meditation in little to no time, go look at the reviews on this site.  I know how to help you reprogram your subconscious away from the faulty belief patterns you developed as an innocent child.  I know how to guide you into releasing old wounds.  If you don’t want my help then look up experts in the field in your local area, make sure they incorporate hypnosis and attachment style healing.  Some may call it in inner child healing.

If you’re parent, then just be there, and be happy in yourself so you’re not placing that pressure on your child to make you happy.  I had a mother in the anxious-preoccupied category, and a father in the dismissive avoidant category, I was an emergency C-section, and I was placed in childcare as a one-year old.  It was unavoidable that I would grow up damaged.  I’m gradually, consciously working to heal that damage, and the more and more I heal, the better and better I become helping others who need to also heal.

I see you.  I hear you.  I am you.

Love,

Christopher

 

 

 

 

 

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