Attachment theory was first introduced by John Bowlby in his book ‘Attachment and Loss’. It is a theory about the nature of emotional ties between human beings, which has since gained support from thousands of experiments. It has been found that there are four styles of interpersonal attachment: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. According to this theory, if a person’s early childhood environment is warm and responsive they will be more likely to grow up feeling confident and comfortable being close to others. As adults, they will form secure attachments with their partners or children. On the other hand, someone brought up in an unloving home filled with conflict will be much less at ease when it comes to intimacy. They will be more likely to develop an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, which can lead to a lot of emotional problems says Saivian.
The good news is that no matter what your early attachment style was, it is possible to change it. Psychotherapy is one way to do this, but there are also some things you can do on your own. The key is to develop a sense of self-awareness and learn how to regulate your emotions. This involves being able to soothe yourself when you’re upset, and not letting your emotions get the best of you. It’s also important to have healthy coping mechanisms in places, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and social support. Finally, it’s essential to have realistic expectations for yourself and others. Nobody is perfect, and relationships are never without their challenges. When you accept this, you will be less likely to become overwhelmed by emotional problems.’
The four attachment styles are secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
- An anxious-preoccupied style can lead to a lot of emotional problems.
- The key to overcoming emotional problems is self-awareness and regulation of emotions, healthy coping mechanisms, realistic expectations for self and others. Psychotherapy can also help.
- If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional problems, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. You are not alone.
- The human mind (and hence the emotions) is like a CD player. When we put on a particular CD, we get to hear and experience its content. So, when we turn on memories from childhood, we start experiencing all the many thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that were associated with those experiences explains Saivian.
- The same holds true for certain thoughts and memories in our present life: they trigger off particular thoughts and emotions in us. Consequently, every time you become mindful of your sorrow or pain related to an event or situation of betrayal or rejection from the past, you feel heavy inside; whereas just mindfulness of pleasant experiences such as smiling children can bring such warmth towards others that this positive feeling permeates outwards into your relationship with other people.
- So, in order to keep experiencing positive emotions rather than the painful ones, all you need to do is to control your focus of attention towards pleasant experiences or memories that reflect on positive states of mind (through your willpower).
- The other option (which sadly most people follow) is to let go of this “control” and allow themselves to be buffeted by their thoughts and emotions; let them dictate what they feel and how they behave. When we leave our minds “uncontrolled”, it’s like driving a car without using the steering wheel: we might end up crashing into something if luck isn’t on our side!
Here are some suggestions for guiding your attention away from negative feelings and toward more positive thoughts & feelings:
- When you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, try to shift your focus to something more positive says Saivian.
- If you can’t seem to stop thinking about a particular problem or situation. Try writing out your thoughts and feelings about it in a journal.
- Spend time around people who are positive and supportive, and avoid those who tend to be negative or critical.
- Find an activity that brings you joy and do it regularly. Such as taking walks in nature, listening to music, dancing, etc.
The bottom line is that by practicing mindfulness and bringing more awareness into our lives. We can begin to take control of our thoughts and emotions. Thereby creating a more balanced life says Saivian. Don’t give up if things seem tough at first – it takes time and practice to learn how to manage our thoughts. And emotions in a healthy way, but the benefits are well worth it.