Photo by Jordan Whitt   The attachment system needs soothing sometimes.

Photo by Jordan Whitt

The attachment system needs soothing sometimes.

Ten Steps Toward Secure Attachment and an Awesome Relationship: Step 4

Practice compassion

We’ve all been hurt, and we’re all carrying around pain from some way we’ve been hurt in the past.

Learning and expressing compassion for ourselves and for others helps us to stay in connection, and makes the upsetting stuff seem, well, less upsetting. 

We’ve also all had the experience of unintentionally hurting others, so we can have compassion for ourselves even as we’re learning how to be more secure and do better next time.


Tips for the different attachment styles:

If you have ambivalent attachment:

Ambivalents can be quite hard on themselves, so this is an opportunity to practice being kind. How would you (in your best moments) treat a friend who was going through a similar difficult situation? For many people, their self talk includes things they would never say to a friend. 

Think about what you might say to a friend or to a young child to soothe and make them feel better. Then think of times when you’ve been struggling, and compare the two. Is there a difference, and if so, is there a reason, such as fear of abandonment or higher standards for yourself? Make a mental note or write down a few things you would like to say to yourself when you’re having a hard time.

Maybe there are times when you said things you regretted to a partner who wasn’t getting you the way you needed them to.

If you have avoidant attachment:

It might have been a little uncomfortable being around other people who were too emotional, so you found ways to psychologically distance to protect yourself, and that strategy worked in some cases. Yet when we put up walls to protect ourselves we also block connection. 

Think of a time when someone was being "overly emotional” or “too sensitive” and then ask yourself — what might this person have been feeling? What was their underlying need that wasn’t being met? 

For example, if someone is ranting and angry because the kitchen is a mess, maybe their need for order and ease isn’t being met. You can find feelings and needs charts here.

You can do this exercise with yourself too! Needs are not bad. They make us human, and it’s entirely okay to have needs and to give yourself compassion for not having all of them met.

If you have disorganized attachment:

You can do the exercises for ambivalent and avoidant attachment above, since disorganized attachment is a combination of these types. 

In addition, consider the role that compassion plays when someone has gone through a stressful or even traumatic experience, which is often the basis for disorganized attachment. Having compassion for our child self can be very healing.

Schedule a free confidential phone consultation

Everything begins with you.

As you become more practiced at having compassion for yourself and others, the world will really start to feel like a more enjoyable place to be! 

Everything begins with you. I don’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach, so the entire process is customized to fit your needs. Schedule today for your free confidential phone consultation, and we’ll design a program together to help you have better relationships — with yourself and with others.

Warm regards,