Attachment styles play an important role in our romantic and platonic relationships. They are the way we relate to ourselves, others, and our environment, as well as how we form romantic and platonic bonds with people throughout our lives. This article will explore attachment styles, how they affect relationships and ways that you can work on your own attachment style to improve your relationships. It is important to understand these concepts not only in order to better understand yourself and your own behavior but also in order to strengthen the bond between you and another person.

Attachment styles can have both positive and negative effects on a relationship so it is important to be aware of them and take steps to modify any unhealthy patterns. Understanding attachment styles gives us insight into why certain relationships don’t work out, and how we can create healthier relationships in the future. By understanding our own attachment style, and that of our partners, we are better able to understand the dynamics at play in a relationship and work towards creating a healthier bond.

What is Attachment Theory?

Attachment theory is a psychological concept developed by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, which looks at the way we bond with others. It is based on the idea that our attachment styles are formed in childhood and remain with us throughout our lives. Our attachment style can affect how we interact in relationships, both romantic and platonic, and how comfortable we feel about expressing our emotions to others.

Understanding Your Own Attachment Style

Understanding your attachment style is key to creating healthy relationships. It is important to be aware of the type of attachment you have and how it affects your relationships, as well as ways that you can work on forming healthier connections.

When exploring your attachment style, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. What kind of feelings do I experience when in close relationships? Do I feel secure and confident or anxious and scared? Do I struggle with trust issues or communicating my needs effectively? Answering these questions will help you gain more insight into how your attachment style may be impacting your relationships.

It is also helpful to learn about different types of attachment and how they manifest in relationships so that you can better understand your behavior and the behavior of others. Additionally, it is important to recognize that attachment styles can change over time with the right support and growth. If you identify unhealthy patterns in your relationships, reach out to a therapist to help develop healthier ways of connecting with people. By understanding your attachment style, you can learn how to create stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

The Four Types of Attachment Styles in Adult Relationships

Secure Attachment

A secure attachment is the most favorable attachment style, characterized by a robust bond with another individual. Individuals who exhibit secure attachment are self-assured in their capacity to depend on others and seek support. They effortlessly communicate and accept affection, and can openly discuss sensitive subjects such as emotions and intimacy without apprehension. Those with secure attachment recognize the importance of balance in relationships, ensuring that their own needs do not overshadow the needs of others. If both parties in a relationship strive towards secure attachment, they can foster growth and development. It is essential to accept one’s current position while demonstrating a willingness to evolve.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

Anxious-preoccupied attachment is marked by an intense longing for closeness and connection with other people, but also an inability to fully trust them. People with this type of attachment are insecure, so they may overly cling to their partner and become jealous or possessive. They often struggle with communication and expressing their needs, leading to them feeling misunderstood or unappreciated by their partners.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment

People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style are independent and avoid relying on others for emotional support. They may appear to be self-sufficient but in reality, they often struggle with forming meaningful relationships due to their fear of closeness or vulnerability.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment

People with fearful-avoidant attachment struggle with forming close connections and often feel like they are not worthy of love. They may create walls around themselves to protect their emotions and keep other people out, making it difficult for them to open up and form intimate relationships. They often lack trust in others due to their fear of abandonment, leading to feelings of insecurity and instability in relationships.

They often have difficulty expressing their feelings due to a fear of being vulnerable or getting hurt, which can lead to communication issues within the relationship. Fearful-avoidant individuals may also be prone to clingy behavior as a way of coping with their fear of abandonment. Although this behavior can make the other person feel suffocated, it is important to remember that it comes from a place of fear and insecurity.

Strategies for Coping with Differing Attachment Styles in a Relationship

When two people have different attachment styles, it can be challenging to create a healthy relationship. It is important to understand that each person may have different needs and expectations due to their individual attachment style. Here are 5 strategies for coping with different attachment styles in a relationship:

1. Communication

Open communication is essential for any relationship, but even more so when you are dealing with varied attachment styles. Talk openly about your needs and expectations and make sure both partners feel heard and respected. Learn how your partner communicates best – whether it be through verbal or physical communication – and try to adapt accordingly.

2. Respect Boundaries

Everyone has boundaries and it is important to respect each other’s comfort levels when it comes to physical and emotional closeness. Be aware of your partner’s needs and try not to push for more than they are ready for.

3. Compassion

Both partners should strive to be understanding and compassionate towards each other, even when there is a difference in attachment styles. Validate the feelings of both parties and avoid any blaming or shaming behavior as this can only make matters worse.

4. Empathy

Walking in each other’s shoes can help build empathy between two people with different attachment styles. Try to look at the situation from your partner’s point of view and respond accordingly instead of reacting out of frustration or anger.

5. Support

Offer support to your partner in whatever way they need, whether through verbal reassurance or physical affection. Having a supportive and understanding partner can help bridge the gap between two different attachment styles.

With these tips, you can work towards creating a healthy relationship with someone who has a different attachment style than you. Remember, it is possible to create fulfilling relationships despite having different attachment styles – all you need is patience and understanding!

Therapy for Unhealthy Attachment Styles

It’s important to reflect on which attachment style you have a TENDENCY to default to (ex. anxious/insecure when in fear of someone abandoning you) – this may not be you ALL THE TIME but there is a tendency to go back to the one that was developed in childhood. They may move between them ex. anxious/insecure when feeling abandoned and then become more avoidant when afraid or feeling shame. The goal is to move toward secure attachment and build awareness around what triggers these attachment styles and tendencies – and what steps you can take to feel more secure in them (with friendships, family members, co-workers, and intimate partners, etc.)

Therapy can be an effective tool for those struggling with unhealthy attachment styles. Through therapy, individuals can gain insight into their own attachment style and learn how to create healthier relationships. Our therapists at Soul 2 Soul Healing helps clients understand the impact of their attachment style on their current relationships and develop healthy coping strategies to manage emotions in a more positive way.

It is important to remember that everyone has different needs when it comes to building trust and forming close connections, so having a psychotherapist who understands this can make all the difference. Those with unhealthy attachment styles can learn how to build lasting, meaningful relationships with guidance and support. Soul to Soul Healing provides compassionate care that focuses on helping clients reach their goals in navigating healthy attachments in relationships.

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Many teens and young adults who come to therapy report low levels of self-esteem. Plagued by insecurities about their physical appearance or social status, they tend to withdraw in the spirit of self-preservation. They want nothing more than to be their own person and think for themselves, but the risk of being ostracized by family or peers are far too great. Such inner conflicts yield a propensity for people-pleasing and perfectionism as compensatory strategies for absolving that unsettling feeling of not being able to measure up to certain ideals imposed by social norms that seem to be reinforced by pop culture. The final byproduct is a distorted self-image that perpetuates feelings of anxiety and depression.

6 Pillars of Self-Esteem

Nathanial Branden (1994), a pioneer in the self-esteem movement, defines self-esteem as “the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life” (pp. 4). In other words, Branden (1994) describes self-esteem as your confidence in your ability to cope with the basic challenges of life and being able to trust your mind and judgement with such conviction that you are driven by inspired action.

Lisa LaGuardia Fischer, founder of Soul 2 Soul Healing, defines self-esteem as a measurement of our self-worth that answers the fundamental question: “Do I matter?” Self-esteem is very much tied to the way we think about ourselves in terms of external factors such as our looks, associations, or achievements, whereas self-worth is very much tied to how we feel about ourselves and whether or not we are good enough or worthy to have what we want. When we believe that we matter, we value ourselves and the efforts we make to achieve our goals. But when we start believing that we don’t matter, we tend to devalue ourselves and feel like our efforts are somehow not good enough.

However way you choose to define self-esteem for yourself, here are six ways you can lay the groundwork for improving and strengthening your self-esteem.

1. Develop the skill of mindfulness to practice living consciously.

There’s a reason why mindfulness has become a common intervention in many therapeutic practices. Mindfulness sets the foundation for creating awareness and using that awareness to live with conscious intention. In order to facilitate our own personal growth, we have to be able to accurately assess our environment, both internally and externally, so we can make effective decisions about how we want to show up in our lives. This is the essence of living consciously, the first pillar of self esteem. 

You can practice the skill of mindfulness by recognizing when you get lost in either your thoughts or emotions, and learning to center yourself by leveraging both to find the wisdom that lies between, what practitioners of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) refer to as the “wise mind” from which living consciously becomes far more accessible. The pathway to building a positive sense of self begins with the practice of living consciously.

“Our mind is our basic tool of survival. Betray it and self-esteem suffers.”

2. Show yourself plenty of compassion to master self-acceptance.

As you begin a practice of living consciously, you may become acutely aware of the judgements you hold toward yourself. Such judgements feed on insecurities like a wildfire and can diminish one’s sense of value in a world governed by celebrities, influencers, and social capital (aka the value of your network and connections). When you become aware of such judgements, recognize it as an opportunity to treat yourself with kindness and respect. 

Branden (1994) identified the second pillar of self-esteem as the practice of self-acceptance and described it as a precondition to change and growth. To accept oneself is to make a conscious choice to value yourself, to be your own friend and ally, and to fully experience reality as it appears to you. The practice of self-acceptance allows you to live in love and truth rather than in fear and denial so that you can learn and grow from each and every experience life has to offer you.

3. Take ownership of your well-being to practice self-responsibility.

Through a practice of self-acceptance, you may come to realize that while some things are well within your control, there are many others that are well beyond your control. Building off the first two pillars of self-esteem, the third pillar works to protect self-esteem. The practice of self-responsibility challenges you to discern between what is up to you and what is simply not. 

When living unconsciously or in denial of uncomfortable truths, the path of least resistance may light your way — but is it even in a direction you want to be going? To engage with the world in such a way can be detrimental to your self-esteem. Trying to control things you can’t or denying responsibility for things you can can be erosive to the self-esteem. 

The practice of self-responsibility puts you back in the driver seat of your life. When you start taking ownership of your dreams, goals, and outcomes — and even your failures, mistakes, and shortcomings — things don’t just happen TO you for you to suffer in pain but rather FOR you to evolve and adapt.

“Healthy self-esteem asks that we leap into the arena- that we be willing to get our hands dirty.”

4. Learn how to advocate for yourself to build your muscles of self-assertiveness.

Once you start practicing self-responsibility, you begin to recognize all the ways you have inadvertently given your personal power away by living your life according to everyone else’s standards and expectations but your own. This strategy for survival can dramatically compromise your self-esteem without the previously discussed practices supporting the weight of your ego — that part of you that thrives on other people’s approval and needs to be validated or accepted at all costs. 

The practice of self-assertiveness refers to honoring your needs, wants and values and expressing them in an ecological way that works for not just you, but also for others, society, and the world. When you’re practicing self-assertiveness, there is a willingness to stand up for yourself, to be who you are openly, and to treat yourself with respect in all interactions (Branden, 1994). 

You can practice self-assertiveness simply by living by your own set of standards and learning to say no to other people’s expectations of you if they are not yours or aligned with your values. The foundation needed for self-esteem to develop becomes much more stable when you become your own ally and advocate.

5. Set daily intentions and weekly goals to practice living purposefully.

To live without purpose means to live at the mercy of chance because there’s no standard by which to judge whether something is worth doing or not (Branden, 1994). To live with purpose, on the other hand, means using of all of the personal power you have to achieve meaningful goals that propel you forward and energize your existence (Branden, 1994). 

When you set intentions and goals for yourself, you are in essence living on purpose rather than by accident. Think of intentions as how you want to show up (or how you want others to show up for you) when completing a task, and think of goals as a specific outcome your are working toward accomplishing by doing that task. Intentions and goals are the building blocks of productivity, an element of self-esteem worth noting.

Healthy self-esteem requires you to support your own existence by setting goals and actively working towards achieving them. However, it’s not the achievement itself that proves our worth or right to exist; it is in the process of achieving by which we develop our competency to function in the world and the skills necessary to cope with the basic challenges of everyday living —taking care of yourself, managing your schedule, balancing priorities, paying bills, and completing chores, among other things. 

The practice of living purposefully, the fifth pillar of self-esteem, allows you to cultivate self-esteem by integrating all pillars to help you remain on path and on purpose through the actions you take daily. When you are productive in working toward your goals or changing your situation, you are building self-esteem one action at a time.

“The root of our self-esteem is not our achievements but those internally generated practices that, among other things, make it possible for us to achieve.”

6. Cultivate alignment between what you do and say by committing to personal integrity.

The easiest way to erode self-esteem is by saying your going to do something and then not doing it. When your actions and behaviors are incongruent with your values and convictions, a breach of integrity occurs that wounds the self-esteem. 

While most issues of integrity may be small (like snoozing your wake up alarm), their accumulated weight can compromise your self-esteem as you start losing face with yourself. With each lapse of integrity, you stop respecting yourself until you reach a point when you can’t even trust yourself anymore. Integrity is the only way to heal such wounds to the esteem.

The practice of personal integrity is the final pillar of self-esteem that serves as your own personal moral code. Without it, you have no basis from which to make the best possible decisions for yourself. You can practice personal integrity by clarifying what matters most to you and questioning the standards that govern your world.

Nurture Self-Esteem By Practicing These Skills

Self-esteem is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Think of the six pillars as different muscle groups that collectively work together to form a healthy and strong self-esteem.

Each time you practice living consciously, embracing self-acceptance, exercising self-responsibility, embodying self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and behaving with personal integrity, you are building a healthy and positive self-esteem.

Self-Esteem Counseling at Soul 2 Soul Healing

Soul 2 Soul Healing offers self-esteem counseling for teens and young adults who want to feel more confident in themselves. If you’re looking for a self-esteem therapist in El Segundo, please reach out to us today.


Branden, N. (1994). The six pillars of self-esteem. Bantom Books.

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Mindfulness Meditation for children and adults is not just a technique but a way of life.

Mindfulness Meditation means ‘a cessation of the thought process?. It describes a state of consciousness when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns. The observer (one who is doing meditation) realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one. With regular practice of a balanced series of techniques, the energy of the body and mind can be liberated and the quality of consciousness can be expanded.

It is within meditation you will find all the answers you seek and?an abundance of whatever you desire more of. For adults, it may be more love, happiness, creativity, energy, wealth and prosperity. For children, it may be improved focus, concentration, memory, behavior, and grades in school.

Contact us to find out about upcoming mindfulness classes for adults and children.

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