If you had anxiety, depression or emotional problems, there is a theory in psychology known as "attachment theory" that can help you get to the cause of your problems and make you better understand what is happening to you.
The attachment theory It was developed by British psychiatrist John Bowlby during the 1960s and explains the way in which our brains are programmed to help us survive and thrive in the environment in which we were born.
Both our self-esteem, as the ability to control our emotions and the quality of our relationships They are affected by our type of attachment. For more than 50 years we have known that types of attachment can predict and explain the behavior of children and more recent research has shown that types of attachment continue to have an effect on our behavior during adulthood.
Four types of attachment
Children develop one of the four main types of attachment in response to the care they receive from their parents or other caregivers during their childhood. Caregivers who care a lot about the child's needs promote a "type of secure attachment"On the other hand, caregivers who become distressed and distance themselves when children feel unwell create a"type of avoidance attachment"Instead, caregivers who respond sensitively but are often distracted from their responsibilities as caregivers create a"kind of anxious attachment"Finally, caregivers who harm children through neglect or abuse create a"type of disorganized attachment".
When we are children, we develop a type of attachment that protects us by programming to behave specifically towards our caregivers if we have anxiety or fear. This type of behavior causes a response in our caregivers that, ideally, should be protective.
Our brains are programmed through the relationship we have with our main caregiver. During this process, we learn to recognize and control our emotions and create a "template" that guides us to our social interactions and informs us about whether other people value us and in what way.
A person with a type of secure attachment He feels valued by other people, being able to rely on them to help him and is able to control his emotions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a person with a type of disorganized attachment does not feel valued by other people, loses control of their emotions easily and resorts to manipulation to make other people offer help.
When we feel anxiety or are afraid, the pattern of behavior created during childhood tells us how to react. The world in which we live is usually different from the world in which we were born and when our attachment style was formed, hence the way in which we react to what happens to us is not always the most appropriate. For example, a person with an anxious type of attachment that constantly talks about their problems may lose friends because they are frustrated at their inability to help.
Research shows how the type of attachment affects our performance in many facets of life, including physical and mental health, the search for a compatible sentimental partner and our behavior in family, social and work contexts. The type of attachment even affects our religious beliefs, our relationships with pets and if we feel safe in our own home.
Once you know what your type of attachment is (something you can easily discover by completing an online survey) you will be able to predict how you will respond normally to different circumstances. For example, if you have a type of avoidant attachment, your fear of rejection will make you decide not to ask for a promotion at work.
When you realize that your fear of rejection is due to the difficulties of your caregiver during your childhood, you can change the way you see things. Knowing what your type of attachment is can help you develop a safer attachment style, so find out what your type of attachment is: there is no harm that for good does not come.
Author: Helen Dent, Emeritus Professor of Forensic and Clinical Psychology, Staffordshire University
This article has originally been published in The Conversation. You can read the original article here.