#035 - The Unicorn of Attachment Theory: Earned Secure Attachment

 http://unicornratings.tumblr.com/

http://unicornratings.tumblr.com/

For me getting into a helping profession was fueled by an excitement of the unknown. I was interested in the inner workings of being human, how we become who we are, and how we transform over our lifetime. I saw the powerful forces of meditation, spiritual practices, and even psychedelics to deeply influence who we are. I wanted to find out more! I wanted to change and transform myself and be a companion to others interested in the same process. What I didn’t know was that I would have to get to know deeply the unspoken things inside of me, the places of fear, freezing, constriction, terror, rage, despair, and hopelessness.

I have often said that if I knew what this would entail I wouldn’t of started out on the journey in the first place! I would of stayed home in my cocoon, quite content with mild to moderate dissociation and a deep longing for connection that I knew would never be fulfilled. I believe many folks are living in just such a cocoon, and while we are snuggled up in our cocoon there is almost no awareness of what lies just beyond the walls of our sanctuary. Though I have come to believe life will always find a way to invite (or force!) us out of our cocoon, to experience the vulnerability of being alive. This is often a messy, and frightening process!

To understand why people interact in certain ways, the quality of their cocoon, and their ability to connect attachment theory was developed. In terms of working within the world of attachment theory there are simple terms: Secure, Insecure/Anxious, and Avoidant. These are the attachment strategies that we develop early in life through our family of origin and will dictate much of how we interact in our adult relationships. Check out this link if you want to take a test to find out your attachment style in close relationships: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

For an extremely simple image to understand these three categories here you go:

 www.ryananswers.com

www.ryananswers.com

So you might be wondering about this unicorn: Earned Secure Attachment. I was also wondering the same thing when I first heard of it! How do I get there? How do I support my clients in experiencing this?  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information out there about it. Most of the information says in order to transition to earned secure attachment find a securely attached partner and have them teach and support you in either finding support (for anxiously attached) or trusting and opening (for avoidant).  While securely attached people make up 50% of the population I find it anxiety producing to subscribe to the idea that I have to find a securely attached person so I can be ok! What if partnership is not a goal of yours? Or your dating pool is limited? Or the person you love and are in a relationship with is not securely attached? What can you do then?

There is a lot to do! There are many ways to begin to transition yourself. While the movement to secure attachment must happen in relationship, it can happen in all sorts of relationships. A loving and supportive therapist can be invaluable. Friends that value intimacy, communication, and honesty can show you a new way of relating and feeling close. A connection to nature or a Higher Power can bring levity to those intense feelings that will arise when we approach and hold these unmanageable internal states.

A deep willingness to keep approaching ourselves wholeheartedly with curiosity and compassion is paramount. This is really where the rubber meets the road. No matter how loving and available a partner is they will fail to meet us when we need them, they are human! This failure at empathetic attunement is the reality of life, and the trademark of a securely attached person is an ability to trust the coming and going of life. There is no place to get to that is 100% safe, no person is 100% safe, but internally we can develop an internal stance of the loving parent for our terrified, rageful, dissociated young parts.

Through these external and internal relationships grounded in clear seeing and compassion much joy is possible. I do not know how long it will take (probably longer than you want), I do not know how many times you will have to feel the old pain and stories (probably more than you want), but I believe this unicorn is real and ready for you to take the ride!