THE BASICS OF HOW YOU CONNECT

Whom do you turn to when you are really upset? At those times, your attachment system is turned on; like turning on an internal homing device for which the target or “home” is an attachment figure. When an adult’s system works well, he has a secure style of attachment. He seeks out his partner or other primary attachment figure for reassurance when he’s upset. And once he finds her to be reliably available and effectively responsive, his attachment system turns off. He feels calm and comforted.

But people with an insecure pattern of attachment don’t fully or consistently find such comfort in their partners or in others, an indication that their “homing device” is malfunctioning.


Current research (Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991) suggests that attachment styles (whether secure or insecure) are fundamentallybased on two underlying “working models” (or default ways of
relating)—a working model of self and a working model of others.


The working model of self is your sense of how worthy or unworthy you feel of being loved. As you might imagine, when you feel unworthy of love, you also fear being rejected and struggle with
attachment-related anxiety. You might recognize this as anxiety—a feeling of tension or nervousness. But you could also feel it as other distressing emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, or anger. Adults and children with a strong sense of unworthiness live as though their attachment system, or homing device for an attachment figure, is stuck in the fully “on” position. If you identify with this, you may be constantly in search of reassurance from an attachment figure and chronically feel alone, rejected, or in fear of rejection. And even at the less extreme levels of attachment-related anxiety, people can struggle with feeling somewhat inadequate, and fear being unable to emotionally handle rejection. This book is designed to help you overcome such distress, whatever your level of attachment-related
anxiety.

People also have a working model of others—an expectation of whether or not others will be emotionally available to them. To the extent that they expect that others won’t be there for them, they feel uncomfortable with getting close and want to avoid it. This is what psychologists call attachment-related avoidance. There are some people who are so sure that others won’t be emotionally available that they decide to be fully self-reliant.

They do everything they can to try to keep themselves from feeling the need to depend on someone else. It’s as if their attachment system or homing device is stuck in the “off” position.



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