Thanks big mindset fan here

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Pandemic life has taught many of us to appreciate moments in life that might otherwise pass us by. I’ve been trying to pause and take note of how I feel at the end of the day, often as I walk in the park or one of my nearby neighborhoods.

With that in mind, here’s a tip inspired by The Art of Stopping Time, a book by Pedram Shojai: whenever you visit a place that’s new to you, consider the sense that you might never be there again.

Just imagine: this might be it! Your one and only opportunity in a lifetime to visit this particular place. How might this realization make you feel?

What, you say you aren’t traveling much now? That’s okay.

This “new place” could be anywhere: a part of the woods you’ve never seen on your next nature hike, for example, or even a street in your neighborhood you’ve never driven down before. The point is to create awareness and appreciation.

I wish I’d had this concept in mind many years ago when I was traveling to several new countries every month. Looking back now, I can remember dozens of highlights that might fit the category of “never returning.”

In Somaliland, I rode several hours in a crowded minibus, listening to people chatter away. We stopped for food (goat stew! I’m a vegetarian, but it was interesting to observe) and drank from a shared bottle of Coca-Cola. Those were the days…

In Bosnia, a totally different part of the world, I traveled overland (this time on a full-sized bus) from Sarajevo to Herceg Novi. The city itself was magical. It felt like one of those “Land Before Time” moments.

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As interesting as those experiences were, I don’t know if I’ll ever repeat them. In fact, almost certainly I won’t. Even when I return to traveling more often, Montenegro and Somaliland aren’t that easy to jet off to.

Not only that, even though I can remember dozens of highlights from my adventures, I’m sure there are hundreds—thousands even—that I’ve forgotten or simply don’t come to mind when I think about this concept.

That’s why it’s good to consider the concept while you’re in a new place. It might help you remember it later, but even if not, you’ll have the moment of appreciation while you’re there.

Oh, and I like thinking about this idea for travel, but technically I suppose you could apply it to anything, even not something related to being in a particular place.

Whatever you’re doing or experiencing today, you might never do or experience it again. Let it sink in and consider how it feels.

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Image: Ender

IMO anything about mindset are fantastic who agrees?

If you’ve ever putzed around the internet, looking for why your relationships might all be screwed up (and screwed up in the same ways, I might add), then you’ve probably come across Attachment Theory.

Attachment Theory is an area of psychology that describes the nature of emotional attachment between humans. It begins as children with our attachment to our parents. The nature of this attachment, and how well it’s fostered and cared for, will then influence the nature of our attachment to romantic partners later in our life.1

Attachment theory began in the 1950s and has since amassed a small mountain of research behind it. Two researchers, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, found that the nature in which infants get their needs met by their parents significantly contributes to their “attachment strategy” throughout their lives.2

Your attachment style doesn’t explain everything about your relationships, but it probably explains a great deal of why your close relationships have succeeded/failed in the manner they did, why you’re attracted to the people you are attracted to, and the nature of the relationship problems that come up again and again for you.

The Four Styles of Attachment

According to psychologists, there are four attachment strategies adults can adopt: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.3

Secure Attachment Style

People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent, and display a healthy level of self-confidence. They’re able to correctly prioritize their relationships within their life and tend to draw clear boundaries and stick to them.

Secure attachment types obviously make the best romantic partners, family members, and even friends. They’re capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain, but are also capable of being loyal and sacrificing when necessary. They have little issue trusting people they’re close to and are trustworthy themselves.

Secure types comfortably form intimate relationships not only with partners, but also with friends. They have no trouble revealing themselves to and occasionally relying on others when the situation calls for it. And they are excellent caregivers.4

According to research, over 50% of the population are secure attachment types.5

Meet Secure Sarah

  • I find it easy to get emotionally close to my partner.
  • When I show my feelings for my partner, I know that they feel the same about me.
  • I know that my partner will be there when I need them.
  • I want to have my partner with me when I am upset.
  • I don’t worry about my partner leaving me.

Anxious Attachment Style

Attachment Theory: Anxious type

Anxious attachment types are often nervous and stressed about their relationships. They need constant reassurance and affection from their partner. They have trouble being alone or single. They’ll often succumb to unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Anxious types have trouble trusting people, even if they’re close to them, yet excessively rely on others for their emotional needs and to resolve their problems. Their behavior can be irrational, sporadic, and overly-emotional. They’re the ones complaining that everyone of the opposite sex are cold and heartless. And probably bursting into tears while doing so.

This is the girl who calls you 36 times in one night wondering why you didn’t call her back—let’s call her Anna. Or the guy who follows his girlfriend to work to make sure she’s not flirting with any other men.

Women are more likely to be anxious types than men,6 but it’s okay, there’s still plenty of insecurity to go around.

Meet Anxious Anna

  • My partner is reluctant to get as emotionally close as I would like.
  • When I tell my partner my troubles, I feel like they don’t really care.
  • I find it hard to forgive my partner when they let me down.
  • I often worry that my partner doesn’t love me.
  • I fear that our relationship will end.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant attachment types are extremely independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. They’re commitment-phobes and experts at rationalizing their way out of any intimate situation. They regularly complain about feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them. They are often paranoid that others want to control them or box them in.

Attachment Theory: Avoidant type

In every relationship, they always have an exit strategy. Always. Avoidants often construct their lifestyle in such a way to avoid commitment or too much intimate contact.

In surveys, avoidant types score uniquely high on self-confidence and uniquely low on emotional expressiveness and warmth. They not only reveal themselves far less to their partner and friends, but also tend not to rely on others, even when they should. They score lower than other types as caregivers, meaning they’re not to be relied upon when in a pickle.7

It’s a sad fact that relationships tend to be controlled by those who care least. Therefore, avoidants tend to be the ones in control in both friendships and romantic relationships, as they are almost always willing to leave. This is opposed to anxious types, who let themselves be controlled in both.8

This is the guy—we’ll call him Alex—who works 80 hours a week and gets annoyed when women he dates want to see him more than once on the weekend. Or the girl who dates dozens of guys over the course of years but tells them all she doesn’t want “anything serious” and inevitably ends up ditching them when she gets tired of them.

Men are more likely than women to be avoidant types,9 but as always, there’s plenty of neuroses to go around.

Meet Avoidant Alex

  • I prefer to keep to myself when I’m around my partner.
  • I don’t talk to my partner about my feelings.
  • I don’t give my partner the chance to let me down.
  • I don’t want to be around my partner if I’m feeling upset.
  • I wouldn’t care if my partner left me.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

Anxious-avoidant attachment types (also known as the “fearful or disorganized type”) bring together the worst of both worlds. Anxious-avoidants are not only afraid of intimacy and commitment, but they distrust and lash out emotionally at anyone who tries to get close to them. Anxious-avoidants often spend much of their time alone and miserable, or in abusive or dysfunctional relationships.

Anxious-avoidants are low in confidence and less likely to express emotions, preferring to suppress them.10 However, they can have intense emotional outbursts when under stress.11 They also don’t tend to seek help when in need due to a distrust of others. This sucks because they are also incapable of sorting through their own issues.12

Anxious-avoidants really get the worst of both worlds. They avoid intimacy not because they prefer to be alone like avoidants. Rather, they avoid intimacy because they are so terrified of its potential to hurt them.13

According to studies, only a small percentage of the population qualifies as anxious-avoidant types, and they typically have a multitude of other emotional problems in other areas of their life (i.e., substance abuse, depression, etc.14).

Meet Anxious-avoidant Aaron

  • I want to get emotionally close to my partner, but I worry about them hurting my feelings.
  • I want to feel close to my partner, but I also don’t trust them to want to be close to me.
  • I can’t live without my partner, even though being with them isn’t working.

As with most psychological profiling, these types aren’t monolithic qualities, but scalar in nature and somewhat independent.

For instance, according to the book Attached by Amir Levie and Rachel Heller, I scored about 75% on the secure scale, 90% on the avoidant scale, and 10% on the anxious scale. And my guess is that 3-5 years ago, the secure would have been lower and the anxious would have been higher, although my avoidant has always been solidly maxed out (as any of my ex-girlfriends will tell you).

The point is, you can exhibit tendencies of more than one strategy depending on the situation and at different frequencies. Although, everyone has one dominant strategy. So Secure Sarah will still exhibit some avoidant or anxious behaviors, Anxious Anna and Avoidant Alex will sometimes exhibit secure behaviors, etc. It’s not all or nothing. But Anxious-avoidant Aaron will score high on both anxious and avoidant types and low on the secure scale.

How Attachment Styles Are Formed

Like I said previously, our attachment styles as adults are influenced by how we related to our parents (or one parent/primary caregiver) as young children. As helpless little babies, this is our first and most important relationship of our lives, so it naturally sets the “blueprint” for how we perceive all relationships as we mature.15

We use this relationship blueprint as we age into late childhood and adolescence, when we typically start to form important relationships outside of our immediate relationship with our parent(s). Our peer group takes on a larger role in our lives as we continue to learn how to relate to others. These experiences further influence our attachment style as we eventually become romantically involved with others, which, in turn, also influence our attachment style.16

So while your early experiences with your parent(s) do have a considerable influence on how you relate to others, it’s not the only factor that determines your attachment style (though it’s a big one) and your attachment style can change over time (more on this later).

Generally, though, secure attachment types regularly have their needs met as infants. They grew up feeling competent among their peers, but were also comfortable with their shortcomings to a degree. As a result, they exhibit healthy, strong boundaries as adults, can communicate their needs well in their relationships, and aren’t afraid to leave a bad one if they think they need to.

Anxious types, on the other hand, receive love and care with unpredictable sufficiency as infants. Growing up, they have positive views of their peers, but negative views of themselves. Their romantic relationships are often overly idealized and they rely too heavily on them for self-esteem. Hence the 36 calls in one night when you don’t pick up your phone.

Avoidants like Alex would have got only some of their needs met as infants, while the rest were neglected (for instance, Alex might have gotten fed regularly, but wasn’t held enough). So Alex grows up holding a negative view of others but a positive view of himself. He hasn’t depended too much on his romantic relationships for his needs and feels like he doesn’t need others for emotional support.

Anxious-avoidant Aaron, though, would have had an abusive or terribly negligent childhood. He grew up having a hard time relating to his peers. So as an adult, he seeks both intimacy and independence in romantic interactions, sometimes simultaneously, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t really go well.

Adult Attachment Styles and Relationship Configurations

Different attachment types tend to configure themselves into intimate relationships in predictable ways. Secure types are capable of dating (or handling, depending on your perspective) both anxious and avoidant types. They’re comfortable enough with themselves to give anxious types all of the reassurance they need and to give avoidant types the space they need without feeling threatened themselves.

Anxious and avoidants frequently end up in relationships with one another more often than they end up in relationships with their own types.17 That may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s order behind the madness. Avoidant types are so good at putting others off that oftentimes it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

For instance, Avoidant Alex may be able to successfully shirk Secure Sarah’s pushes for increased intimacy. After which, Secure Sarah will accept the rejection and move on. But Anxious Anna will only become more determined by a man who pushes her away. She’ll resort to calling him for weeks or months on end until he finally caves and commits to her. This gives Avoidant Alex the reassurance he needs that he can behave independently and Anxious Anna will wait around for him.

Often these relationships produce some degree of dysfunctional equilibrium as they fall into a pattern of chaser-chasee, which are both roles the anxious and avoidant types need in order to feel comfortable with intimacy.

Attachment Theory: Anxious-avoidant

Anxious-avoidants only date each other or the least secure of the anxious types or avoidant types. These relationships are very messy, if not downright abusive or negligent.

What all of this adds up to, which is the same conclusion I propose in my book, is that in relationships, insecurity finds insecurity and security finds security, even if those insecurities don’t always look the same.18 To put it bluntly, to everyone who has emailed me over the years complaining that all of the people they meet are insecure, or have trust issues, or are needy and manipulative… well, let’s just say I have some bad news for you.

What’s Your Attachment Style?

If you don’t have an idea of what your attachment style is yet and want to take a test, you can take this one. It’s a great resource that will give you an idea of your attachment style across different relationships—parents, friends, romantic partners.

I also really like it because you can track how various aspects of your attachment strategy change over time.

If you don’t want to take the test (takes maybe 10 minutes), the gist of it is this: if you’re consistently avoiding commitment, avoiding your romantic partners, shutting them out, or not sharing things with them, then you’re probably pretty avoidant.

If you’re constantly worrying about your partners, feel like they don’t like you as much as you like them, want to see them 24/7, need constant reassurance from them, then you’re probably anxious.

If you’re comfortable dating people, being intimate with them and are able to draw clear boundaries in your relationships, but also don’t mind being alone, then you’re probably secure.

Note, however, that there are some individual differences in how strongly we might identify with each attachment style. For example, you might be securely attached in most areas but have some anxious or avoidant tendencies in other situations.

That said, most people typically have a predominant attachment style they tend to fall back on in their close relationships.

Can Your Attachment Style Change?

The good news is that your attachment style can change over time—although it’s slow and difficult.

Research shows that an anxious or avoidant who enters a long-term relationship with a secure can be “raised up” to the level of the secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, an anxious or avoidant is also capable of “bringing down” a secure to their level of insecurity if they’re not careful.19

Also, extreme negative life events, such as divorce, death of child, serious accident, etc., can cause a secure attachment type to fall into a more insecure attachment type.20

For instance, anonymous man may be more or less secure, get married to Anxious Anna, bring her up to a more secure level, but when they run into money trouble she falls back to her anxious level, cheats on him and then divorces him for all of his money, sending him into a tailspin of avoidance. Anonymous goes on to ignore intimacy and pump-and-dump women for the next 10 years, afraid to become intimate with any of them.

If you’re beginning to think that anxious and/or avoidant behavior corresponds to the fake alpha syndrome and other insecure behavior I describe in men in my book, then you’re correct. Our attachment styles are intimately connected with our confidence in ourselves and others.

Psychologists Bartholomew and Horowitz have hypothesized a model showing that one’s attachment strategy corresponds to the degree of positive/negative self-image, and the positive/negative image of others.21

Attachment Theory: The four types of attachment

Secures exhibit both positive self-images and positive perceptions of others. Anxious types exhibit negative self-images, but positive perceptions of others (hence their needy behavior).

Avoidants exhibit positive self-images and negative perceptions of others (hence their arrogance and fear of commitment), and anxious-avoidants exhibit negative perceptions of just about everything and everyone (hence their inability to function in relationships).

Using this model as a roadmap, one can begin to navigate oneself to a more secure attachment type.

Anxious types can work on developing themselves, creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image. Instead of constantly looking for “the one” who will magically solve all their problems (and then calling them 36 times in one night), they can look for things that will make them a better, healthier person both in body and mind.

One of my most common pieces of dating advice is for men to find something they’re passionate about and good at and make that a focal point of their life rather than women. Needless to say, the same goes for women as well.

Once they’re content with who they are, anxious types can then work to become more aware of their tendency to seek partners that reaffirm their negative self-image.22

Remember what I said about insecurity finding insecurity? Anxious types will do well to break out of that cycle and surround themselves with people, friends and lovers alike, who lift them up, rather than knock them down. And to deepen those relationships. The positive emotional experiences they get from healthy relationships, especially profound ones like with a spouse, will re-shape their view of the world, reduce their anxieties, and help mold them into more secure types.23

Avoidant types can work on opening themselves up to others, and enrich their relationships through sharing themselves more. Research shows that simply not avoiding relationships can help avoidants move away from their avoidant tendency.24 And similar to anxious types, avoidants should stop seeking to reaffirm their view of the world with every single person they meet—not everyone is untrustworthy or clingy.

Another one of my most common pieces of advice to people is that it’s your responsibility to find something great in everyone you meet. It’s not their responsibility to show you. Become curious. Stop being judgmental.

For the unlucky few who find themselves both anxious and avoidant, they can follow the advice for both types above. Focus on getting to know themselves, their fears and insecurities, embrace them, and learn to work with them, rather than against them. A few simple tools to help them do this are journaling and meditation. Professional therapy can also be effective.25

And of course, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “I like being alone and being able to sleep with whoever I want. I wouldn’t change a thing.” And it’s true—many people lead happy, successful lives as avoidant or anxious types. Some even have successful long-term relationships as an anxious or avoidant.

But research shows secures are consistently more happy and feel more supported,26 are less likely to become depressed,27 are healthier,28 retain more stable relationships, and become more successful29 than the other types.

And I can tell you from my personal experience, I’ve felt myself drift out of a strong avoidant (and slightly anxious) attachment type to a more secure attachment type over the past six years of working on myself in this area. And I can unequivocally say that I’m happier and more fulfilled in my relationships and with the women I date now than I ever was back then.

I wouldn’t trade it back for anything.

Footnotes

  1. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
  2. Ainsworth, M. S., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46(4), 333.
  3. Bartholomew, K., Kwong, M. J., & Hart, S. D. (2001). Attachment. In Handbook of personality disorders: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 196–230). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
  4. See this study for how “Secures” score in an interview across 15 personality aspects. Those not mentioned here include: balance of control in romantic relationships and friendships, crying frequency, and warmth.
  5. Mickelson, K. D., Kessler, R. C., & Shaver, P. R. (1997). Adult attachment in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(5), 1092.
  6. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.
  7. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  8. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  9. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.
  10. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  11. Shaver, P. R., & Mikulincer, M. (2002). Attachment-related psychodynamics. Attachment & Human Development, 4(2), 133–161.
  12. Maunder, R., & Hunter, J. (2012). A Prototype-Based Model of Adult Attachment for Clinicians. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 40, 549–573.
  13. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  14. Caspers, K. M., Yucuis, R., Troutman, B., & Spinks, R. (2006). Attachment as an organizer of behavior: implications for substance abuse problems and willingness to seek treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 1(1), 32.
  15. Chris Fraley, R. (2002). Attachment Stability From Infancy to Adulthood: Meta-Analysis and Dynamic Modeling of Developmental Mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6(2), 123–151.
  16. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Hazan, C. (1994). Attachment styles and close relationships: A four-year prospective study. Personal Relationships, 1(2), 123–142.
  17. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Davis, K. E. (1994). Attachment style, gender, and relationship stability: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(3), 502–512.
  18. Vicary, A. M., & Fraley, R. C. (2007). Choose Your Own Adventure: Attachment Dynamics in a Simulated Relationship. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(9), 1279–1291.
  19. Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Simpson, J. A., & Overall, N. C. (2018). Revising Working Models Across Time: Relationship Situations That Enhance Attachment Security. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22(1), 71–96.
  20. Davila, J., Burge, D., & Hammen, C. (1997). Why does attachment style change? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(4), 826–838.
  21. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226.
  22. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
  23. Epstein, S. (1980). Self-concept: A review and the proposal of an integrated theory of personality. In E. Staub (Ed.), Personality: Basic issues and current research. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  24. This longitudinal study finds that avoidants who initiate new relationships during the study are less likely to remain avoidant than those who do not.
  25. Research shows that compelling emotional experiences that result from a strong professional relationship with a therapist (not a romantic one, mind you) could help change one’s existing model of the world.
  26. Ognibene, T. C., & Collins, N. L. (1998). Adult attachment styles, perceived social support and coping strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(3), 323–345.
  27. Roberts, J. E., Gotlib, I. H., & Kassel, J. D. (1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(2), 310–320.
  28. Feeney, J. A. (2000). Implications of attachment style for patterns of health and illness. Child: Care, Health & Development, 26(4), 277–288.
  29. Blustein, D. L., Prezioso, M. S., & Schultheiss, D. P. (1995). Attachment Theory and Career Development: Current Status and Future Directions. The Counseling Psychologist, 23(3), 416–432.

anyone else love this post as much as me

By Leo Babauta

Most of us have something on our task list we’re avoiding. Or a project we’ve been putting off.

Think for a moment: what’s the task or project you’ve been avoiding lately?

Some possibilities:

  • That report you don’t want to write
  • Your book or blog you’ve been meaning to write
  • The business you’ve been wanting to create for years
  • Your garage you’ve been meaning to declutter
  • That email that’s been sitting in your inbox for a month
  • Going for a run

So what is it you’ve been avoiding? Identify it now before you move on.

In this article, we’ll look at why you’re avoiding it, and how to actually do the thing.

Why We Avoid the Thing

We often spend our days doing everything but the hard thing we don’t want to do.

We’ll research something to death instead of actually just doing the thing. We’ll talk about it, read about it, buy all the equipment for it, but not actually do the thing. We’ll do our email, messages, small tasks, and check social media or the news — just real quick! — instead of doing the thing.

Why? We’re protecting ourselves from uncertainty. We don’t want to feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t want to look stupid. We don’t want to feel overwhelmed, we don’t want to feel like we’re not good enough, we don’t want to feel like a failure or disappointment.

We’re protecting ourselves from feeling that. So we do everything else, out of protection.

And of course, it doesn’t work. Avoiding doing the thing actually just makes us feel more overwhelmed, more like a failure or disappointment, more stupid or not good enough.

Avoidance doesn’t actually work.

So how can we stop avoiding, and actually do the thing?

How to Actually Do the Thing

We do the thing by deciding to do the thing. Like, deciding decisively to do it.

We have to pause for a moment and actually consider that we’re avoiding something – which is what I asked you to do at the beginning. Did you do it then? We usually don’t want to face that fact, so it can help to have someone else to talk to about it, to report to, to commit to. Every day, tell someone what hard thing you’re going to do, and by when. Then report to them the next day, right before you tell them what you’re going to do that day.

Decide to do it, and then don’t waver. Don’t let yourself argue about it. When you decide to do it, just commit and do it.

Do it at a certain time: tell your accountability buddy you’re going to do it at 10am, or whatever works best. Set a reminder. Do it when the reminder goes off.

Psyche yourself up, if it helps. Play some pump-up music, get some tea, clear distractions, and then pour yourself into it. Do a countdown: 5-4-3-2-1 and then do it!

Do it with someone else. Meet someone for a focus session on a video call at a certain time, and tell them what you’re going to do for the next hour, while they tell you when they’re going to do. Set a timer, don’t talk, just work. When the timer goes off, report to each other how it went. Repeat daily. Save these focus sessions for the thing you’re avoiding.

Get into the action habit. The habit of recognizing what you’re avoiding, turning towards it (instead of away from it), and then just starting.

Get small victories. Small victories are incredibly powerful. Avoiding doing a big task? Do 5 minutes of it. Do 10 minutes. Eventually, doing an hour of it will be much easier, but do the smallest possible chunk, and get a victory. Celebrate it! Do a dance, acknowledge yourself. Then get another victory.

With practice, the habit of doing the thing you’re avoiding can become so much easier. Use these techniques to get there.

If you’d like to train in doing the hard thing, I highly encourage you to join my Fearless Training Program, where that’s exactly what we do together.

The post How to Do the Thing You’re Avoiding appeared first on zen habits.

Planets best self-improvement fan

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

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The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

Worlds best method fan right here

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

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Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me soon after I got married. At that point, I had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know *if* I wanted kids, much less *when* I was having them.

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions around “When are you having kids?” from relatives and random people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person or woman by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including some people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and politican activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting this narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and people need to realize that.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

Interesting post so much this is really great more on self-improvement please

If you’ve ever putzed around the internet, looking for why your relationships might all be screwed up (and screwed up in the same ways, I might add), then you’ve probably come across Attachment Theory.

Attachment Theory is an area of psychology that describes the nature of emotional attachment between humans. It begins as children with our attachment to our parents. The nature of this attachment, and how well it’s fostered and cared for, will then influence the nature of our attachment to romantic partners later in our life.1

Attachment theory began in the 1950s and has since amassed a small mountain of research behind it. Two researchers, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, found that the nature in which infants get their needs met by their parents significantly contributes to their “attachment strategy” throughout their lives.2

Your attachment style doesn’t explain everything about your relationships, but it probably explains a great deal of why your close relationships have succeeded/failed in the manner they did, why you’re attracted to the people you are attracted to, and the nature of the relationship problems that come up again and again for you.

The Four Styles of Attachment

According to psychologists, there are four attachment strategies adults can adopt: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.3

Secure Attachment Style

People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent, and display a healthy level of self-confidence. They’re able to correctly prioritize their relationships within their life and tend to draw clear boundaries and stick to them.

Secure attachment types obviously make the best romantic partners, family members, and even friends. They’re capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain, but are also capable of being loyal and sacrificing when necessary. They have little issue trusting people they’re close to and are trustworthy themselves.

Secure types comfortably form intimate relationships not only with partners, but also with friends. They have no trouble revealing themselves to and occasionally relying on others when the situation calls for it. And they are excellent caregivers.4

According to research, over 50% of the population are secure attachment types.5

Meet Secure Sarah

  • I find it easy to get emotionally close to my partner.
  • When I show my feelings for my partner, I know that they feel the same about me.
  • I know that my partner will be there when I need them.
  • I want to have my partner with me when I am upset.
  • I don’t worry about my partner leaving me.

Anxious Attachment Style

Attachment Theory: Anxious type

Anxious attachment types are often nervous and stressed about their relationships. They need constant reassurance and affection from their partner. They have trouble being alone or single. They’ll often succumb to unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Anxious types have trouble trusting people, even if they’re close to them, yet excessively rely on others for their emotional needs and to resolve their problems. Their behavior can be irrational, sporadic, and overly-emotional. They’re the ones complaining that everyone of the opposite sex are cold and heartless. And probably bursting into tears while doing so.

This is the girl who calls you 36 times in one night wondering why you didn’t call her back—let’s call her Anna. Or the guy who follows his girlfriend to work to make sure she’s not flirting with any other men.

Women are more likely to be anxious types than men,6 but it’s okay, there’s still plenty of insecurity to go around.

Meet Anxious Anna

  • My partner is reluctant to get as emotionally close as I would like.
  • When I tell my partner my troubles, I feel like they don’t really care.
  • I find it hard to forgive my partner when they let me down.
  • I often worry that my partner doesn’t love me.
  • I fear that our relationship will end.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant attachment types are extremely independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. They’re commitment-phobes and experts at rationalizing their way out of any intimate situation. They regularly complain about feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them. They are often paranoid that others want to control them or box them in.

Attachment Theory: Avoidant type

In every relationship, they always have an exit strategy. Always. Avoidants often construct their lifestyle in such a way to avoid commitment or too much intimate contact.

In surveys, avoidant types score uniquely high on self-confidence and uniquely low on emotional expressiveness and warmth. They not only reveal themselves far less to their partner and friends, but also tend not to rely on others, even when they should. They score lower than other types as caregivers, meaning they’re not to be relied upon when in a pickle.7

It’s a sad fact that relationships tend to be controlled by those who care least. Therefore, avoidants tend to be the ones in control in both friendships and romantic relationships, as they are almost always willing to leave. This is opposed to anxious types, who let themselves be controlled in both.8

This is the guy—we’ll call him Alex—who works 80 hours a week and gets annoyed when women he dates want to see him more than once on the weekend. Or the girl who dates dozens of guys over the course of years but tells them all she doesn’t want “anything serious” and inevitably ends up ditching them when she gets tired of them.

Men are more likely than women to be avoidant types,9 but as always, there’s plenty of neuroses to go around.

Meet Avoidant Alex

  • I prefer to keep to myself when I’m around my partner.
  • I don’t talk to my partner about my feelings.
  • I don’t give my partner the chance to let me down.
  • I don’t want to be around my partner if I’m feeling upset.
  • I wouldn’t care if my partner left me.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

Anxious-avoidant attachment types (also known as the “fearful or disorganized type”) bring together the worst of both worlds. Anxious-avoidants are not only afraid of intimacy and commitment, but they distrust and lash out emotionally at anyone who tries to get close to them. Anxious-avoidants often spend much of their time alone and miserable, or in abusive or dysfunctional relationships.

Anxious-avoidants are low in confidence and less likely to express emotions, preferring to suppress them.10 However, they can have intense emotional outbursts when under stress.11 They also don’t tend to seek help when in need due to a distrust of others. This sucks because they are also incapable of sorting through their own issues.12

Anxious-avoidants really get the worst of both worlds. They avoid intimacy not because they prefer to be alone like avoidants. Rather, they avoid intimacy because they are so terrified of its potential to hurt them.13

According to studies, only a small percentage of the population qualifies as anxious-avoidant types, and they typically have a multitude of other emotional problems in other areas of their life (i.e., substance abuse, depression, etc.14).

Meet Anxious-avoidant Aaron

  • I want to get emotionally close to my partner, but I worry about them hurting my feelings.
  • I want to feel close to my partner, but I also don’t trust them to want to be close to me.
  • I can’t live without my partner, even though being with them isn’t working.

As with most psychological profiling, these types aren’t monolithic qualities, but scalar in nature and somewhat independent.

For instance, according to the book Attached by Amir Levie and Rachel Heller, I scored about 75% on the secure scale, 90% on the avoidant scale, and 10% on the anxious scale. And my guess is that 3-5 years ago, the secure would have been lower and the anxious would have been higher, although my avoidant has always been solidly maxed out (as any of my ex-girlfriends will tell you).

The point is, you can exhibit tendencies of more than one strategy depending on the situation and at different frequencies. Although, everyone has one dominant strategy. So Secure Sarah will still exhibit some avoidant or anxious behaviors, Anxious Anna and Avoidant Alex will sometimes exhibit secure behaviors, etc. It’s not all or nothing. But Anxious-avoidant Aaron will score high on both anxious and avoidant types and low on the secure scale.

How Attachment Styles Are Formed

Like I said previously, our attachment styles as adults are influenced by how we related to our parents (or one parent/primary caregiver) as young children. As helpless little babies, this is our first and most important relationship of our lives, so it naturally sets the “blueprint” for how we perceive all relationships as we mature.15

We use this relationship blueprint as we age into late childhood and adolescence, when we typically start to form important relationships outside of our immediate relationship with our parent(s). Our peer group takes on a larger role in our lives as we continue to learn how to relate to others. These experiences further influence our attachment style as we eventually become romantically involved with others, which, in turn, also influence our attachment style.16

So while your early experiences with your parent(s) do have a considerable influence on how you relate to others, it’s not the only factor that determines your attachment style (though it’s a big one) and your attachment style can change over time (more on this later).

Generally, though, secure attachment types regularly have their needs met as infants. They grew up feeling competent among their peers, but were also comfortable with their shortcomings to a degree. As a result, they exhibit healthy, strong boundaries as adults, can communicate their needs well in their relationships, and aren’t afraid to leave a bad one if they think they need to.

Anxious types, on the other hand, receive love and care with unpredictable sufficiency as infants. Growing up, they have positive views of their peers, but negative views of themselves. Their romantic relationships are often overly idealized and they rely too heavily on them for self-esteem. Hence the 36 calls in one night when you don’t pick up your phone.

Avoidants like Alex would have got only some of their needs met as infants, while the rest were neglected (for instance, Alex might have gotten fed regularly, but wasn’t held enough). So Alex grows up holding a negative view of others but a positive view of himself. He hasn’t depended too much on his romantic relationships for his needs and feels like he doesn’t need others for emotional support.

Anxious-avoidant Aaron, though, would have had an abusive or terribly negligent childhood. He grew up having a hard time relating to his peers. So as an adult, he seeks both intimacy and independence in romantic interactions, sometimes simultaneously, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t really go well.

Adult Attachment Styles and Relationship Configurations

Different attachment types tend to configure themselves into intimate relationships in predictable ways. Secure types are capable of dating (or handling, depending on your perspective) both anxious and avoidant types. They’re comfortable enough with themselves to give anxious types all of the reassurance they need and to give avoidant types the space they need without feeling threatened themselves.

Anxious and avoidants frequently end up in relationships with one another more often than they end up in relationships with their own types.17 That may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s order behind the madness. Avoidant types are so good at putting others off that oftentimes it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

For instance, Avoidant Alex may be able to successfully shirk Secure Sarah’s pushes for increased intimacy. After which, Secure Sarah will accept the rejection and move on. But Anxious Anna will only become more determined by a man who pushes her away. She’ll resort to calling him for weeks or months on end until he finally caves and commits to her. This gives Avoidant Alex the reassurance he needs that he can behave independently and Anxious Anna will wait around for him.

Often these relationships produce some degree of dysfunctional equilibrium as they fall into a pattern of chaser-chasee, which are both roles the anxious and avoidant types need in order to feel comfortable with intimacy.

Attachment Theory: Anxious-avoidant

Anxious-avoidants only date each other or the least secure of the anxious types or avoidant types. These relationships are very messy, if not downright abusive or negligent.

What all of this adds up to, which is the same conclusion I propose in my book, is that in relationships, insecurity finds insecurity and security finds security, even if those insecurities don’t always look the same.18 To put it bluntly, to everyone who has emailed me over the years complaining that all of the people they meet are insecure, or have trust issues, or are needy and manipulative… well, let’s just say I have some bad news for you.

What’s Your Attachment Style?

If you don’t have an idea of what your attachment style is yet and want to take a test, you can take this one. It’s a great resource that will give you an idea of your attachment style across different relationships—parents, friends, romantic partners.

I also really like it because you can track how various aspects of your attachment strategy change over time.

If you don’t want to take the test (takes maybe 10 minutes), the gist of it is this: if you’re consistently avoiding commitment, avoiding your romantic partners, shutting them out, or not sharing things with them, then you’re probably pretty avoidant.

If you’re constantly worrying about your partners, feel like they don’t like you as much as you like them, want to see them 24/7, need constant reassurance from them, then you’re probably anxious.

If you’re comfortable dating people, being intimate with them and are able to draw clear boundaries in your relationships, but also don’t mind being alone, then you’re probably secure.

Note, however, that there are some individual differences in how strongly we might identify with each attachment style. For example, you might be securely attached in most areas but have some anxious or avoidant tendencies in other situations.

That said, most people typically have a predominant attachment style they tend to fall back on in their close relationships.

Can Your Attachment Style Change?

The good news is that your attachment style can change over time—although it’s slow and difficult.

Research shows that an anxious or avoidant who enters a long-term relationship with a secure can be “raised up” to the level of the secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, an anxious or avoidant is also capable of “bringing down” a secure to their level of insecurity if they’re not careful.19

Also, extreme negative life events, such as divorce, death of child, serious accident, etc., can cause a secure attachment type to fall into a more insecure attachment type.20

For instance, anonymous man may be more or less secure, get married to Anxious Anna, bring her up to a more secure level, but when they run into money trouble she falls back to her anxious level, cheats on him and then divorces him for all of his money, sending him into a tailspin of avoidance. Anonymous goes on to ignore intimacy and pump-and-dump women for the next 10 years, afraid to become intimate with any of them.

If you’re beginning to think that anxious and/or avoidant behavior corresponds to the fake alpha syndrome and other insecure behavior I describe in men in my book, then you’re correct. Our attachment styles are intimately connected with our confidence in ourselves and others.

Psychologists Bartholomew and Horowitz have hypothesized a model showing that one’s attachment strategy corresponds to the degree of positive/negative self-image, and the positive/negative image of others.21

Attachment Theory: The four types of attachment

Secures exhibit both positive self-images and positive perceptions of others. Anxious types exhibit negative self-images, but positive perceptions of others (hence their needy behavior).

Avoidants exhibit positive self-images and negative perceptions of others (hence their arrogance and fear of commitment), and anxious-avoidants exhibit negative perceptions of just about everything and everyone (hence their inability to function in relationships).

Using this model as a roadmap, one can begin to navigate oneself to a more secure attachment type.

Anxious types can work on developing themselves, creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image. Instead of constantly looking for “the one” who will magically solve all their problems (and then calling them 36 times in one night), they can look for things that will make them a better, healthier person both in body and mind.

One of my most common pieces of dating advice is for men to find something they’re passionate about and good at and make that a focal point of their life rather than women. Needless to say, the same goes for women as well.

Once they’re content with who they are, anxious types can then work to become more aware of their tendency to seek partners that reaffirm their negative self-image.22

Remember what I said about insecurity finding insecurity? Anxious types will do well to break out of that cycle and surround themselves with people, friends and lovers alike, who lift them up, rather than knock them down. And to deepen those relationships. The positive emotional experiences they get from healthy relationships, especially profound ones like with a spouse, will re-shape their view of the world, reduce their anxieties, and help mold them into more secure types.23

Avoidant types can work on opening themselves up to others, and enrich their relationships through sharing themselves more. Research shows that simply not avoiding relationships can help avoidants move away from their avoidant tendency.24 And similar to anxious types, avoidants should stop seeking to reaffirm their view of the world with every single person they meet—not everyone is untrustworthy or clingy.

Another one of my most common pieces of advice to people is that it’s your responsibility to find something great in everyone you meet. It’s not their responsibility to show you. Become curious. Stop being judgmental.

For the unlucky few who find themselves both anxious and avoidant, they can follow the advice for both types above. Focus on getting to know themselves, their fears and insecurities, embrace them, and learn to work with them, rather than against them. A few simple tools to help them do this are journaling and meditation. Professional therapy can also be effective.25

And of course, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “I like being alone and being able to sleep with whoever I want. I wouldn’t change a thing.” And it’s true—many people lead happy, successful lives as avoidant or anxious types. Some even have successful long-term relationships as an anxious or avoidant.

But research shows secures are consistently more happy and feel more supported,26 are less likely to become depressed,27 are healthier,28 retain more stable relationships, and become more successful29 than the other types.

And I can tell you from my personal experience, I’ve felt myself drift out of a strong avoidant (and slightly anxious) attachment type to a more secure attachment type over the past six years of working on myself in this area. And I can unequivocally say that I’m happier and more fulfilled in my relationships and with the women I date now than I ever was back then.

I wouldn’t trade it back for anything.

Footnotes

  1. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
  2. Ainsworth, M. S., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46(4), 333.
  3. Bartholomew, K., Kwong, M. J., & Hart, S. D. (2001). Attachment. In Handbook of personality disorders: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 196–230). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
  4. See this study for how “Secures” score in an interview across 15 personality aspects. Those not mentioned here include: balance of control in romantic relationships and friendships, crying frequency, and warmth.
  5. Mickelson, K. D., Kessler, R. C., & Shaver, P. R. (1997). Adult attachment in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(5), 1092.
  6. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.
  7. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  8. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  9. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.
  10. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  11. Shaver, P. R., & Mikulincer, M. (2002). Attachment-related psychodynamics. Attachment & Human Development, 4(2), 133–161.
  12. Maunder, R., & Hunter, J. (2012). A Prototype-Based Model of Adult Attachment for Clinicians. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 40, 549–573.
  13. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  14. Caspers, K. M., Yucuis, R., Troutman, B., & Spinks, R. (2006). Attachment as an organizer of behavior: implications for substance abuse problems and willingness to seek treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 1(1), 32.
  15. Chris Fraley, R. (2002). Attachment Stability From Infancy to Adulthood: Meta-Analysis and Dynamic Modeling of Developmental Mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6(2), 123–151.
  16. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Hazan, C. (1994). Attachment styles and close relationships: A four-year prospective study. Personal Relationships, 1(2), 123–142.
  17. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Davis, K. E. (1994). Attachment style, gender, and relationship stability: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(3), 502–512.
  18. Vicary, A. M., & Fraley, R. C. (2007). Choose Your Own Adventure: Attachment Dynamics in a Simulated Relationship. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(9), 1279–1291.
  19. Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Simpson, J. A., & Overall, N. C. (2018). Revising Working Models Across Time: Relationship Situations That Enhance Attachment Security. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22(1), 71–96.
  20. Davila, J., Burge, D., & Hammen, C. (1997). Why does attachment style change? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(4), 826–838.
  21. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226.
  22. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
  23. Epstein, S. (1980). Self-concept: A review and the proposal of an integrated theory of personality. In E. Staub (Ed.), Personality: Basic issues and current research. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  24. This longitudinal study finds that avoidants who initiate new relationships during the study are less likely to remain avoidant than those who do not.
  25. Research shows that compelling emotional experiences that result from a strong professional relationship with a therapist (not a romantic one, mind you) could help change one’s existing model of the world.
  26. Ognibene, T. C., & Collins, N. L. (1998). Adult attachment styles, perceived social support and coping strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(3), 323–345.
  27. Roberts, J. E., Gotlib, I. H., & Kassel, J. D. (1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(2), 310–320.
  28. Feeney, J. A. (2000). Implications of attachment style for patterns of health and illness. Child: Care, Health & Development, 26(4), 277–288.
  29. Blustein, D. L., Prezioso, M. S., & Schultheiss, D. P. (1995). Attachment Theory and Career Development: Current Status and Future Directions. The Counseling Psychologist, 23(3), 416–432.

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healthy mindset

When you are not in the proper mindset, your whole day can be negatively impacted, which will lead to you neglecting your physical health as well. Physical health is important, but an aspect of your daily life that you might neglect is your mental health and emotional wellbeing. To be mentally healthy is to have a positive image of yourself and to clear your head of anxiety. Sometimes stress and outside influences can affect your emotions in a negative way, which is why you should practice proper self-care. Here are five ways to maintain a healthy mind, which will allow you to power through your day and feel better about yourself.

Ways to Keep  Healthy Mindset

1. Respect Yourself

One of the most important steps to being mentally strong is to respect yourself and understand you have value and worth. For those with depression or anxiety, it might seem easy to have a negative image of yourself. You might wrongfully use self-deprecating humor to cope with your pessimistic outlook. Think of it this way: you would never want to say terrible things about your friends, so why should you say terrible things about yourself? Cutting out the negative self-talk and treating yourself with respect is one of the best steps you can take to bettering your life.

2. Be Physically Active

An active body will help you maintain your mental health. The more you lounge around the house and remain healthy mindsetinactive, the less active your brain will be, leading to negative emotional side-effects. Mental and physical health are linked, so by doing simple exercises every day, you will increase the blood and oxygen flow to your brain, which will decrease anxiety and stress. Exercise is a great and constructive way of purging your mind of negative emotions as well.

3. Be Physically Healthy

As stated before, your physical health is connected to your mental health. Treating your body poorly is treating your mind poorly, so make sure to keep an eye on what you do with your body. Eat well, which you can start by cutting out the junk food and replacing it with more nutritious snacks like vegetables and fruit. If it applies to you, dial back on caffeine and alcohol, as too much of either can facilitate anxiety and stress. Also, do your best not to overeat and to only eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored. By maintaining healthy practices for your body, you will help your mind and outlook on yourself.

4. Get Enough Sleep

healthy mindsetA well-rested body and mind will keep you healthy and at ease. Make sure you get to bed at an early enough hour, and try not to oversleep either. By getting about eight hours of sleep every night, you will be giving your body enough energy to work through your day. A good night’s sleep is a necessary step towards staying mentally sharp and emotionally ready to take on your day. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try cutting back on caffeine and unhealthy food as the previous entry stated, as these can have negative influences on your sleep cycle.

 

5. Relax Your Mind

if you find your mind is overwhelmed with stress to the point where you cannot think straight, this would be a good time to practice some relaxation methods. There are many ways to go about relaxing your body and mind. Deep breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga are good starts. If you get the free time, take a minute or two out of your day to close your eyes, breathe, and relax your mind. Taking a breather is essential to ridding your mind of stress.

Above all else, the key to strong mental health is understanding that you have a place in the world. Follow these steps, be respectful to yourself and the people in your life, and you will have the mental strength to live your life happily.

%%focuskw%% | Five Ways to Keep a Healthy Mindset