Welcome back to the Growing Tree of Life, our weekly exploration of personal growth and well-being.

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There is a new pandemic

Issue Number: #049
Date: 21 December 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There is a new pandemic and it's largely ignored by media and governments.
This pandemic manifests with three symptoms but their roots are the same.

Depression, Anxiety, and Loneliness

The post-lockdowns increase in depression, anxiety, and loneliness is twenty-five percent (with up to 40% in most vulnerable groups - children and elderly without partners). But there is one group of people who appear to be immune to this trend: those in secure relationships.

It does make sense. In the newsletter #010 I wrote about The most important factor of life-long happiness based on the 85 years long Harvard Study. The finding we’ve learned is: Positive relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer.

That's good news for those in such relationships. But what about others? How can we create positive relationships if we are depressed, anxious, and lonely? How do we break free from this vicious circle?

Well... There IS a way to get out of our ditch and build positive relationship.

Attachment Styles

Have you ever stopped to think about how your early experiences shape your relationships today? It's a fascinating journey offering insights that can help you transform your relationships. It all starts with different styles of bonding and interaction. Scientists call them Attachment Styles.

The Basics
Attachment styles are like the invisible threads that connect us to people we desire to bond with. They are patterns of emotional and behavioural responses that develop in early childhood, based on our interactions mostly with our parents. These styles affect our adult relationships (it's not only about romantic relationships, it affects friendships too).

There are four main attachment styles:
  1. Anxious Attachment: People with this style often worry about being abandoned or unloved. They may seek constant reassurance and closeness, fearing that their partner will leave them. This style develops when we were 'blackmailed' by others to behave in certain style - (the blackmail often includes physical or emotional abuse or excessive emotional and material rewards for 'proper' behaviour. That leads to being a 'people pleaser' - aka. "I am worthy only if I do everything right. If I don't I am not worthy of love and deserve to be punished/abandoned".
  2. Avoidant Attachment: Individuals with avoidant attachment tend to be emotionally distant and may struggle with intimacy. They often value their independence and may create reasons to maintain distance in relationships. This style often develops due to neglect (sometimes out of necessity - a single mum working long hours cannot spend enough time with the child) and thus leads to conclusion that "I am on my own, I have to solve everything myself, no one is coming to help or stay with me, thus I rebel and leave as soon as I can".
  3. Disorganized Attachment: The most complex of the four, disorganized attachment combines elements of both anxious and avoidant styles. It results in inconsistent behaviours, including emotional outbursts, distancing, and an excessive need for validation, leading to confusion in relationships. This style usually develops because different people influencing child during the formation period used different approaches.
  4. Secure Attachment: Those with secure attachment feel comfortable with both intimacy and independence. They can express their needs and emotions while respecting their partner's boundaries.
What it means?
According to relationship scientist Logan Ury, 50% of the population is securely attached. They get into relationships and stay there. The rest of the pool is a lot of anxious, avoiding, and disorganised people dating each other, creating so-called Anxious-Avoidant Loop. This situation occurs when people with anxious, avoidant, and disorganised attachment styles end up in relationships with each other, creating a cycle of chasing and distancing. Anxiously attached individuals chase after avoidant partners, who in turn pull back, perpetuating the cycle.

How to get out of it?
The way out of this cycle is to recognise your own attachment style and work on it to create a secure bond with people around you. It takes the ability to honestly look at your behaviour and take responsibility for your actions. It may sound daunting, but in fact, it is liberating once you accept that making mistakes doesn't mean that you are flawed, it merely means you are human.

My Personal Journey
When I analysed my past relationships, I realised that I lean toward the disorganized attachment style. I oscillate between detached and anxious behaviours. At times, I seek emotional closeness (hopeless romantic, grandiose gestures, etc), while at others, I distance myself. In past, this inconsistency inevitably led to the end of my relationships. Today, I've started to communicate deeply. Not yet with everyone and not yet in every aspect, but I can see the difference already. The main difference in my communication is that my motive is to deepen and improve the relationship, not to gain something. And I do it even if I am afraid that the outcome might be different from what I would like to see.

Take Action Today
If you're curious about your own attachment style, take some time to reflect on your past relationships and behaviours. Are you anxiously attached, avoidant attached, securely attached, or disorganized? Understanding your style is the first step toward building healthier connections.

Here's my tip:
Embrace Consistency in Communication: Start by recognizing your attachment style and sharing it with your partner/friend. Discuss your fears, needs, and desires openly. Practice consistent expression of your emotions, even if it feels uncomfortable. Building trust and security in your relationships begins with honest and stable communication.

Remember, you can evolve and grow beyond your attachment style. It's a journey, and every step toward healthier, more secure relationships is worth it.

That's all for today. I hope this journey into attachment styles offers you valuable insights into your own relationships. If you have questions or thoughts to share, feel free to respond to this email. Your journey toward more fulfilling connections begins with understanding.
Wishing you secure and joyful relationships,

Thank you for reading and see you next Thursday.


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