Feature by Nikita Fernandes
In her book Milk and Honey, poet Rupi Kaur writes, "How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you." But what does loving yourself look like? I believe that loving ourselves looks like having a secure attachment with ourselves. Let's learn about where the idea of a secure attachment came from.
Back in the 1990's, researchers named John Bolby and Mary Ainsworth came up with attachment theory which spoke to how human beings relationships with their parents later impacted their relationship patterns as adults. Three attachment styles were put forth: secure attachment, anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. For example, if someone grew up with an absentee parent, they are likely to develop an avoidant attachment and ghost potential partners for fear of being rejected. To heal insecure attachments, mental health therapy can help us develop more secure relationships with our potential partners. I'd therefore like to take this one step forward and focus on developing a secure relationship with ourselves.
In her book Polysecure, psychotherapist Jessica Fern writes that we ourselves are the source of happiness, love, courage, emotional regulation and purpose. While having partners can add to our life, we need to cultivate a secure relationship with ourselves first. Jessica suggests re-visiting the past and shaping a narrative to understand our past experiences with caretakers. Next, re-writing that narrative and shaping it to empower ourselves can further help us have control over our own internal secure functioning.
The book also mentions the acronyms HEART to explore what secure functioning with ourselves looks like:
H - Being here with myself.
E - Expressing delight for myself.
A - Attuning to myself
R - Rituals and routines for a secure self
T - Turning towards myself during inner conflict and doing trigger management.
I therefore invite you to think about how you are showing up for yourself. Doing this work can be life changing but also requires you to make an effort. This might look like changing habits that have been ingrained within us for years. So be gentle with yourself as you embark on this journey.
Nikita Fernandes is a mental health therapist in New York City. She is currently being formally trained as a sex therapist. You can contact Nikita at email@example.com and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc.
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