In this post, we discuss ideas on how to provide secure attachment.
How to Provide Secure Attachment
From the moment he is born, the child forms an emotionally significant bond with whoever looks after him, the characteristics of which will shape the rest of his life. Humans have had this capacity for a long time, but it was only with Bowlby and attachment theory that its principles were described: an innate predisposition of the infant to seek the protective proximity of his reference figure (caregiver) when in situations of danger, vulnerability, and pain.
Children who have had the opportunity to experience a warm and welcoming relationship with their caregiver fall into the category of secure attachment. The child constructs a representation of himself as an individual worthy of loving care as a result of this type of interaction, and will be able to approach his own caregiver in times of difficulty, viewing him as a secure base to turn to for “emotional supply.” In this case, the significant other will be portrayed in the child’s mind as someone who is emotionally available in times of distress and willing to acknowledge him as a unique, special being to whom he can provide care and comfort. These representations will later be generalized outwards, allowing the child to develop an expectation of the world around him as a place where people will be willing to help him in times of difficulty throughout his life.
As a result, secure attachment can be defined as a behavioral and relational organization in which an appropriate balance exists between exploration of the environment and attachment to parents, or between independence/autonomy and dependence.
In the Strange Situation Procedure, securely attached children experience typical separation phase distress and will signal attachment system activation through recognizable behaviors such as crying. During the reunion phase, the caregiver’s emotionally close presence (the so-called secure base) will deactivate the attachment system and favor exploration.
Infants who are securely attached regard their mother as a safe haven for their explorations, having gained trust in her availability and accessibility in the event of an emergency. Because they are available and willing to respond to their requests for help and comfort, these children have a representation of themselves as deserving of love and of the other as trustworthy. In fact, the caregiver is sensitive to the child’s requests and is available and willing to provide protection when the child asks for it. In general, future interpersonal relationships will be based on respect for oneself and the other.
Ways To Provide Secure Attachment
- Take time each day to tune in to the inner lives of those you care for. Whether in person or through a screen, take a moment to pause and show your presence. On the inside, what do you think your loved one or student is going through, feeling, or needing? “How are you really doing?” or “Is there anything you need today?” are examples of empathic imagination questions. “I am here for you,” and “I love you,” are examples of simple statements. What matters most is that a child feels seen and heard, regardless of what they are going through.
- Empathize with others by mirroring their feelings and experiences. To tune in to the internal worlds of the people you’re caring for, use sentence stems like “It seems like you’re feeling…” or “It sounds like you need…” instead of trying to “fix” what’s going on.
- Separate people by providing proximity or a bridge. Provide proximity in the form of hugs, healthy touch, and physical proximity if at all possible. There are many inventive ways to “bridge the gap” when caring for someone who lives far away. This might entail sending handwritten letters or reminding a child about the invisible string that connects their home to yours.
- Encourage your loved ones and students to stay in touch in the future. Attachment necessitates the development of trust and hope. Our students and children look to you to set the tone for what they can expect in the future. Point them toward future experiences and celebrations of closeness and safety to provide the “secure dock.” Children must be reminded that this frightening or uncertain period will end soon, and that you and other adults are keeping them safe while we wait to return to “normal life.”
- Take time to “turn yourself inside out” on a regular basis. Find ways to bring your own worries, grievances, worries, and needs to the surface. Talking to a loved one, journaling, meditating, praying, or expressing yourself creatively are all good ways to do this. In addition, it’s critical to direct the safe care you usually give to others toward yourself. This appears to be a quiet moment in which you check in with yourself and scan for emotions or bodily sensations that need to be addressed, released, or cared for. You may become too exhausted to provide consistent care and regulation for others to “borrow from” if you skip this step.
- Above all, remember that you are a “good enough caregiver”—a term used in psychology to describe someone who does their best to recognize and meet needs, as well as to repair when things go wrong. A good enough caregiver doesn’t have to be perfect; instead, they can be content with doing their best every day to show up and provide sensitive care.
Why you should fix your attachment style to have better relationships
Did you enjoy these videos? Check out more relationship videos here.
Everyone deserves to have healthy, happy relationships. But lots of us are stuck in cycles of unhealthy and toxic relationships.
This is thanks to our upbringing and how we learned to relate to others.
For some, this means an anxious attachment style, where we are needy and have a fear of abandonment.
Meanwhile, others have an avoidant attachment style, where we keep emotional distance because we’re afraid of getting too close.
Both of these are insecure attachment styles.
What’s the solution?
To build an earned secure attachment style. This means that we understand ourselves and others. While also being able to relate to our past experiences in a healthy way.
This isn’t easy. It takes time and introspection. But it’s well worth it if it means getting the healthy and happy relationships you know you’ve always deserved—
That we all deserve.
Get ahold of inner work exercises to help build your earned secure attachment style, so you can put an end to this cycle of toxic relationships once and for all.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This resource gets updated at no additional cost.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This series goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for anyone dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Self-Love Subliminal for self-hypnotism that will help you change your behavior and gain self-love, self-awareness, better relationships, greater health, and improve your creativity.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.
Mindful & Mending is a small website that’s about self-hypnosis, affirmations, auto-suggestion, and more techniques & tools to help you shift your unconscious mind. Check it out here.