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Episode Summary:

Attachment Styles Uncovered: A New Approach to Relationships with Christina Abood 

The key to healthier relationships is understanding and navigating our attachment styles.

This week, Christina Abood joins Unshakable Habits to unlock the secrets of attachment styles and transform your relationships.

You'll discover why some patterns have held you back and how understanding them can reshape your romantic interactions.

Christina offers invaluable tools to increase self-awareness and enhance communication with your partner.

Don't miss these transformative insights; they might just be the key to your most fulfilling relationship yet.

Listen Now

Key Topics

[1:06] Attachment style approach

[2:55] Relationships are the most important thing in life

[6:38] Connected Health

[10:57] Create awareness for Opportunity

[12:40] Attachment Style #1: Avoidant

[15:22] Insecurity in terms of the way of sharing the emotions

[17:58] Attachment Style #2: Anxious 

[25:31] Attachment Style #3: Dis-organized (excessive fear)

[29:47] Attachment Style #4: Secure 

[35:16] Identify where you are and think about where you want to be

[38:29] Men were taught to beat themselves up

[45:48] Sit with an emotion (Permitting yourself to feel the emotion)

[48:21] Learning to self-soothe, take care of yourself, and learn to regulate

[54:09] Attunement to yourself and others

Quotes We Loved

  • “... I think it's that resilience that you have in life and in relationships in, like the narrative that you're telling yourself, and by moving to a more secure place, you're going to feel better, your relationships are going to feel better, you're going to be able to connect on a deeper level with the people in your life, and that just feels good, like life is about connection. ” - Christina Abood
  • “... I believe that the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our life.“ - Christina Abood
  • "... remember that we all have a secure attachment. So you don't have to do anything to be it. You are just shifting in the direction of becoming a more secure person and developing this relationship, this better relationship within yourself and with others..” - Christina Abood

10 Questions to think about

  1. How does the concept of connected health apply to your own life? Do you find that your physical health, mental health, emotions, relationships, and connection to something bigger are all interconnected?
  2. Have you ever noticed how your thoughts, beliefs, and the stories you tell yourself impact your conversations and relationships? How can changing your thoughts and wording have a positive effect on your interactions with others?
  3. How do your thoughts and emotional reactions influence your environment and the relationships you have in it? Do you believe that your internal state has an impact on the external world around you?
  4. Have you ever experienced difficulties in your own relationship that caused you to reflect on your perspective on relationships in general? What insight did you gain from that experience?
  5. What are your thoughts on the perspective that many men, particularly those in the 35-60 age range, were raised in homes where emotions were not discussed? How do you think this affects their ability to express emotions and form secure attachments?
  6. How do you feel about the idea that everyone has the capacity for secure attachment and that attachment styles can shift and change over time? Do you believe that it's possible to move towards a more secure attachment style in your relationships?
  7. Christina emphasized the importance of allowing space for unpleasant emotions and practicing self-validation. How comfortable are you with feeling and acknowledging unpleasant emotions? How do you currently practice self-validation and self-care?
  8. Have you ever observed instances where positive changes in one person's life have influenced others around them? How do you think personal growth and positive changes can impact the people around you, even in challenging environments?
  9. How do you feel about the concept of disorganized attachment and the impact it can have on relationships? Have you ever encountered individuals with disorganized attachment patterns? How did it affect your interactions with them?
  10. Consider the message of being more present and aware and how it can positively impact multiple areas of your life. Are there any specific areas in your life where you would like to be more present and aware? How do you plan to apply this practice to your daily life?

Guest Bio & Links

Christina Abood is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor's and Master's in Social Work. She trained in Narrative Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotional Free Techniques (EFT Tapping), Solutions Focused Therapy, and Emotion-Focused Therapy. Certified in Emotional Free Techniques (EFT Tapping), a revolutionary, evidence-based treatment method that allows change to happen in a fast, easy, and seamless way. It is an energy-based method founded on Neurology and Biology. EFT Tapping treats the root cause of the problems, significantly reducing and, in many cases, eliminating them. It can be utilized with various concerns, including symptoms associated with Breakups/Divorce, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, depression, and so much more.

Read Transcript

Christina Abood [00:00:00]:
It's actually, I look at it more as like a pipeline where there are people who are, let's say, like, extremely anxious. Right. They're at the bottom of this this pipeline, and then there's like a threshold that you cross where you're falling into this secure realm.

Stephen Box [00:00:20]:
Welcome back to the Unshakable Habits podcast. I am, of course, your host, Stephen Box. And today I'm joined by Christina Aboud. Thank you for joining me today, Christina.

Christina Abood [00:00:32]:
Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Stephen Box [00:00:35]:
Yeah, so I'm excited for our conversation today because I've done quite a few episodes on, you know, as I said in the intro, you have a really unique perspective on relationships. So do you want to maybe just start us off by telling us a little bit about what that's going to be today? Sure.

Christina Abood [00:00:54]:
Yeah. We're going to chat about attachment styles, which is something I'm super passionate about. I love talking about it and it's completely changed the way I approach relationships that I work with my clients on and has really changed the game in terms of how we approach them and interact in them.

Stephen Box [00:01:11]:
Cool. So tell me a little bit about yourself here in terms of how did you decide that relationships was something you really wanted to talk about. Where did that passion come from?

Christina Abood [00:01:23]:
Well, it's actually funny. I was 19 when I decided that I wanted to work with relationships and just throw it out there. I'm much older than 19 now, and I knew that I wanted to work with couples and help people with relationships, but I ended up working in the school setting, actually for a long time. And then when I moved into the private practice setting, I started working with those relationships and individuals and every person, I mean, across the board was like, I want to talk about my relationship. And I have been trained in lots of different things and lots of different modalities and theories. And for me, things really shifted when I was in a relationship and there was something going on and I couldn't figure out what it was at the time. And I knew that we were not interacting in the way that I wanted to be. It felt like I was really anxious and really triggered a lot of the times, especially when there was something going on.

Christina Abood [00:02:28]:
And it led me down a path to discovering all about, at least in a deeper sense, all about attachment styles and how they impact our relationships. And it truly changed how I show up in relationships and I started working with my clients on it, and it's just an amazing lens to look through and can really help us to honestly change our lives and all of our relationships. And relationships are the most important thing in life. We're not, like, laying on our deathbed being like, oh, I'm so happy that I spent all that time at work. No one's saying that right we're there because we want connection and it makes us feel good.

Stephen Box [00:03:10]:
Yeah. In case I didn't say this in the intro because I don't remember right now, but guys, if you're listening today, go grab your girlfriend, wife, whoever, and bring them in with you today because this is going to be something that you're going to both benefit from. Because I don't know if you guys heard this or not, but there was one line that Christina just said that I think is so important. Once she started to see these things, it impacted the way she showed up. Not the way that she got her partner to show up, but the way that she showed up. And I think that is such a valuable part of this conversation about relationships, is it's not about manipulation, it's not about getting other people to do something. It's about how we individually start to show up.

Christina Abood [00:04:04]:
Absolutely. And it's obviously most impactful, like, if both people understand attachment theory and its impact, and we'll obviously get into the details of it, but you can even shift relationships just by shifting yourself, which is really cool. A lot of people don't realize that. And when I work with couples, it's awesome, but it's always most effective when they're also doing the work individually. So things really can change even if one person is changing, which is pretty cool.

Stephen Box [00:04:34]:
Yeah. I've actually seen this in a number of instances, not just within relationships. And I know when we talk about relationships today, we're not just going to be talking about romantic relationships, right. We're going to be talking about all kind of different relationships. But I've had several people I've interviewed where they started talking about making positive changes in their life. And as a result, even when their environment in and of itself wasn't generally supportive of changes, what started happening was other people would see the changes they were making and then it made them want to start doing things better. And they started to come to this person going, hey, what can I do? How can I change this? So, yeah, your behaviors can actually have an impact on other people unless you're trying to force the change and then it's just going to backfire on you. But if you're focused on you, if you're just doing it because it's the right thing for you to do, then you can absolutely have an impact on other people.

Christina Abood [00:05:31]:
Yeah, definitely. I always talk about this. It's from John Gottman. He's a big name in the relationship world, and he talks about bids. And when he's talking about a bid, he's referring to how we interact with each other. And I always give the example of if your partner gives you a cup of coffee and how you react is how they're going to react.

Stephen Box [00:05:53]:
Right.

Christina Abood [00:05:53]:
We're like constantly bouncing off of each other. Those are the emotional bids that we're doing. And so let's say your partner gives you this cup of coffee and your response is, did you put sugar in this?

Stephen Box [00:06:05]:
Yeah.

Christina Abood [00:06:06]:
And they're going to be like, maybe I didn't know. They're not going to feel really good versus if you said to them like, oh, my gosh, thank you so much, I really appreciate that. Would you mind grabbing me the sugar? It's so different, right? And then that's you just taking responsibility for how you are showing up, how you are reacting to your partner, and that totally changes the game and creates the space for them to also react differently, which is pretty cool.

Stephen Box [00:06:34]:
Yeah. And I'm just going to point out real quick because I talk a lot about this idea of connected health, which looks at your physical health, your mental, your emotional relationships, environment and then existential or a connection to something bigger than you. And I think in particular, four of those are really going to apply to people today because everything's going to start with your own thoughts, your own beliefs, the stories that you tell yourself, and then based on those things, you're going to have emotional reactions to your own thoughts and beliefs. And that's really what Christina just kind of pointed out to you, was by simply changing the wording that comes out of your mouth, which actually starts with a thought in your head, it can create this completely different dynamic in a conversation. Which is why we call it connected health, right? Because your thoughts and your emotional reactions to things also has an impact on those relationships and an impact on your environment.

Christina Abood [00:07:35]:
It absolutely does, yes. And I really believe that the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our life.

Stephen Box [00:07:41]:
Absolutely.

Christina Abood [00:07:42]:
I think it's number one important thing to be making a priority.

Stephen Box [00:07:47]:
All right, so let's start a high level with this. So just tell us real quick, what are the four attachment types?

Christina Abood [00:07:55]:
So there are four, but you can look at them in two categories secure, which just has secure attachment, and then insecure attachment, which is avoidant, anxious and disorganized. And those all, like I said, go under. The insecure and attachment theory has been around for probably like 70 years now. It was first started by John Bulby and he started doing all this research. There's been many people who have done a lot of research since then. And it's the way that we connect to others, how we emotionally connect with them. And it really goes back to how we learned to connect from our caregivers at a very early age, like around one or two. And that lays the foundation for how we are now showing up in our life.

Christina Abood [00:08:44]:
Which is pretty crazy to think about, that it lasted that long, right? But it's true. It's how we learn because we're babies. Like we don't know yet. And so now it's the emotional bond that we are creating with someone and it's how we contact, how we connect with them, and the really important thing to know is that it's also how we connect and communicate with ourselves and our bodies.

Stephen Box [00:09:09]:
You I love that because I think that there's so much of what you just said that people miss with just creating habits in general. We learn so many things before we are consciously learning. Just things that we pick up as very small children. And what ends up happening over time is we kind of put a diffuser on information that comes in and everything either matches what we already believe or it doesn't. And unless something happens to shift our perspective and helps us change our beliefs, we will continue to go on analyzing everything through this right or wrong filter based on something that we picked up before we consciously could process that information.

Christina Abood [00:10:04]:
Yeah, absolutely. And our brain is actually from even before we're born to the age of seven, our brain is actually in a state of super learning. So it's on a completely different brainwave and so it's just forming, it's taking in all of the information and trying to make meaning of it and it lays the foundation for who we are. And that's not to say that we can't change it because we absolutely can, but it's just laying that foundation and we're just taking everything in and yeah, a lot of people don't realize that and they're like, why am I doing this thing today? Why am I acting this way in my relationship? It's because that's how you've learned to act in a relationship.

Stephen Box [00:10:43]:
Yeah. And until you become aware of it, which hopefully that's what we're going to give you today. We're going to give you that awareness today of, oh, I am doing this thing. Maybe this is why I'm doing it. And once you create that awareness now there's an opportunity to, like I said, start shifting your perspective, start changing your beliefs. And then once you start changing your beliefs and your thoughts, you can change your emotional reaction to them. And once we change our emotional reaction to things now we can start to actually change them in our lives. It's a really cool process when you think about it.

Christina Abood [00:11:17]:
Absolutely. Oh, it definitely is. Yeah. And we are unconsciously attracted to people, regardless of whether it's a romantic partner, friend, even coworkers. We unconsciously attract people that fit our relational template that we formed in childhood and we find someone who fits and then usually in romantic relationships that will eventually trigger us into feeling all that stuff that we don't want to feel that will make us really frustrated right. Because it brings up all those unresolved issues that we had with our parents or caregivers when we're younger. And that's why it's so important to understand this, so that you can have healthier relationships and ultimately a healthier relationship with yourself.

Stephen Box [00:12:03]:
So I'm throwing this out and asking because I don't know if the answer to this okay, so maybe you don't either and that's totally cool if either one of us do. But is that why opposites attract is because we seek out people who are very much like us who fit that and especially in romantic relationships maybe kind of the newness of somebody who has a completely different style from us is what's so appealing to us.

Christina Abood [00:12:30]:
I don't know if it's opposites attract, at least from this perspective, but what I will say is that people who experience an avoidant attachment and people who experience anxious attachment are like glue. And you could say, in a sense, that they are opposite because the avoidant ultimately fears someone getting close to them. And the avoidant is anxious because they worry about feeling loved and being abandoned. They are kind of opposite but they very much come together and it's like glue versus somebody who's avoidant and someone who's avoidant. There's not much glue between them because they're both fearful of the love they're not going to be able to get close. So I would say kind of interesting.

Stephen Box [00:13:18]:
So let's start with the insecure types. So can you break those down for us?

Christina Abood [00:13:23]:
You sure can. So the first one we'll talk about is avoidant and these are people that tend to keep people at arm's length. They might even diminish the importance of relationships and growing up they probably felt some sense of neglect whether it be like emotionally they were left alone a lot, maybe they were rejected by their caregivers or their parents just weren't around and it doesn't mean that. And when I talk about insecure attachments, it doesn't mean that someone had a messed up childhood or their parents were abusive. It's actually nothing like that. It's just the way that their parents parented so for example, like in a home where emotions are not talked about or they're not acknowledged, that would lead to someone being insecure because they're not comfortable with emotions. So I just wanted to clarify that that a lot of people do fall into these categories and it doesn't mean anything like crazy happened or they've been through all this abuse or anything but it just was maybe neglect emotionally.

Stephen Box [00:14:26]:
If I can just pause here for 1 second just because I think that this is probably a style that I think a lot of men probably have, right? Because especially guys in my age range I'm turning 45 this year were brought up in homes where we had fathers who didn't talk to us about emotions, who their generation was taught that you kind of keep things to yourself and you bottle it up and you figure it out on your own and all that kind of stuff. And so I think that parenting style was very common and so we do see a lot of guys, especially in that 35 to 50, 60 ish range, that kind of have that style. And I know this style pretty well that sometimes when you tell them that they have it insecure anything. They're like, I'm not insecure. What are you talking about? So I just want to point out to those guys, if you're listening before we lose you here, that when we say that you have this insecure style, it doesn't mean that you're an insecure person. It just means that there's insecurity in terms of the way that you're expressing emotions. And those are two different things. So I just wanted to just throw that out there real quick because I know that sometimes people hear some of these things, they're like, this is garbage, I'm out.

Christina Abood [00:15:41]:
Yeah, totally. I agree. And it's really these people as adults that they tend to push away relationships and it doesn't mean that they don't get into relationships. It's very common that they do, but they push away when someone's getting too close, which means that it makes intimacy a lot more difficult and to get to that deeper level of connection. And sometimes it looks like people who don't want commitment and really at their core, they feel like it's not safe to trust others and safe to get close to them. And that's really what it's about because they're not used to it, right? This is how they've learned to connect. And sometimes they tend to self sabotage relationships and they sometimes feel really disconnected from others. And getting closer, like I said, and having that deep connection just can be really hard.

Christina Abood [00:16:39]:
And that's why you see, like you said, with men, it is more common, I would say, for them to fall into this avoidant category. But I also see this with women. But I think this is a common thing that women talk about, is like, it's hard to get close, it's hard to get that deeper intimacy with him. That's like a very common thing that women feel and think in a relationship with someone who's avoidant.

Stephen Box [00:17:03]:
Yeah. So if someone has the style, are they usually aware? So when you talk about things like not wanting to let people in, having kind of a fear of people getting close or even self sabotaging, are these things they're aware of or are these all subconscious things?

Christina Abood [00:17:22]:
I would say most of it is subconscious. Unless you've now listened to this episode, you can be aware of it and you learned about it because now you can know if someone is saying to you, it's hard to get close to you. That could be a sign, right, if you've heard that a few times. Or maybe if you tend to push things down or you minimize things with your partner and what they're saying, things like that, those might be indicators of you falling into one of those categories.

Stephen Box [00:17:54]:
Okay, cool. So what's the next style?

Christina Abood [00:17:57]:
So the next one is anxious and anxious or people who experience anxious attachment, they experience a lot of anxiety around their needs being met or feeling secure, being loved or lovable in relationships. And as kids, these people, they probably experienced love, but it wasn't consistent. There was just a lot of inconsistency in the way that their parents were showing up and in that connection. And it's almost like they feel like at any moment the rug could be pulled from under them. The love was unpredictable. Maybe didn't know how their parents were going to react to things. Like I said, it wasn't predictable. They weren't sure what their parents were going to do if they did a certain thing.

Christina Abood [00:18:45]:
And as adults, they become hyper aware to any slight changes that a person or a partner might do. They are always looking for that inkling of feeling abandoned. Like little things can trigger them into feeling that way and it puts their attachment system into overdrive. These are people who are very sensitive to rejection. Often people pleasers, they might really struggle with codependency, which is very common, and even losing themselves in a relationship or even conforming to who their partner is or to please them. And almost like that chameleon of whatever relationship they're in. And they tend to be more sensitive or even hypersensitive and they struggle with boundaries. And when other people set boundaries with them, they take it very personally.

Christina Abood [00:19:41]:
And a good example of somebody who is like this would be like if they're always worried that their partner is going to leave them or one thing that I see and actually experienced myself. So when I was in previous relationships, I did fall into that anxious category and it would be this anxiousness around if they were going to text me or getting like a good morning text or something like that, right? And your system starts to freak out. It's so unconscious. But that's what's creating all that overthinking, all that stress around relationships. Because we're like, oh my God, are they going to abandon us? Are they going to leave us?

Stephen Box [00:20:25]:
Yeah. So when someone hears anxious, I think there's a natural tendency to think about if they're a natural worrier. If they're somebody who is anxious just in general, is that the same thing or is that something different?

Christina Abood [00:20:41]:
I would say yes, it's similar. I would bet that most people with anxious attachment are doing some type of worrying or having some type of anxiety about situations. Because again, this isn't just about romantic relationships. It could even be at work, right? They're worried about their boss being mad at them and overthinking something that they did.

Stephen Box [00:21:04]:
So it's not necessarily like if you're a natural worrier, you don't necessarily have this attachment style, but there's a strong chance that you might.

Christina Abood [00:21:15]:
I would say that it doesn't equal anxious attachment, but it's very possible.

Stephen Box [00:21:22]:
Okay, so in terms of the relationship itself, what are some of the warning signs that this person might experience or that they might be on the lookout for?

Christina Abood [00:21:33]:
So that would be, like I said, overthinking certain things, feeling anxiety in relationships, worrying about if your partner is going to leave you texting a lot, wanting a lot of out of the normal range of wanting external validation from them, things along those lines, right? Just feeling this worry, especially if what happens? Because like I said, the anxious and avoidant, they will come together. They're like glue because they're literally just triggering each other. That's why they're like glue. So the avoidant is triggered because the anxious wants to get closer, and it's triggering that. And then that's what they're used to. It feels safe and comfortable. So they feel safe and comfortable in a relationship. But what happens is that the anxious will trigger the avoidant, and the avoidant runs, and then the anxious is like, no, let me come after you.

Christina Abood [00:22:31]:
And then it creates such friction. And these are the relationships that I see very often. They do this pattern where things are really good and then they're really bad, and then they're really good and then they're really bad. It's just a constant up and down between the two of them because they're literally like I mean, obviously they're getting along like they're in a relationship, they probably love each other, but they're also triggering each other. And that's what creates that extreme up and down in the relationship.

Stephen Box [00:23:00]:
Okay, so it's both sides, right? But it's the fact that one side is doing something and it's kind of triggering the other side. So you have the person who's anxious, they're always finding that way, like, let me get closer, let me get closer, let me get closer. But if I'm the avoidant, then I'm like, I don't want to get close because then bad things happen when I let people get too close. And so now they start pushing away. But their pushing away creates that inconsistency that the other person grew up with. And now that just makes them more anxious because they're like, oh, no, they're pushing away, they're about to leave. Terrible things are going on. I now have to squeeze even harder to keep them around.

Christina Abood [00:23:48]:
Exactly. Yes. That's exactly the cycle that happens. And a lot of times this is really subconscious. So somebody who's avoidant, they might not know that they're doing that. They just think that that's normal, right? That this person wanting to be closer is weird. Why are you doing that? Why do you want to do X, Y, or Z? Right? They don't really always understand that they're doing it. And so that's why it's so important to talk about this.

Christina Abood [00:24:13]:
So you can see that it's not good for either one, and it doesn't feel good because it doesn't allow somebody to have that deeper connection, which is ultimately what everyone really wants.

Stephen Box [00:24:26]:
Yeah. I'm sitting here just thinking, as you were describing this, a friend that I grew up with who every time that he would get into relationships, like you said, periods of really good times, and then it would get really bad, and then they would break up, and then he would blow up her phone and constantly trying to get her to respond. And very much this I have to fix it mindset. And it sounds so much like what you're describing because it's like he constantly was like, oh, no, I have to pull this in. And kind of thinking about his childhood and knowing how his parents were. I can completely see what you're describing right now.

Christina Abood [00:25:13]:
Yeah, it's super common. I see it all the time in relationships and I have been in relationships myself where that was going on.

Stephen Box [00:25:20]:
Yeah. So what is the third type? Because I feel like we've already covered all the bases.

Christina Abood [00:25:27]:
So the third one, I would say just a little less common than the other two and that is disorganized. So these are people that have a lot of excessive fear. They felt a lot of confusion as kids. They might fear their caregiver but also really wanted love from them. So it was like this really interesting and unhealthy dynamic between their caregivers and them. And a lot of people who experience this get stuck in a trauma response and they go between being anxious and avoidant in relationships and they experience a lot of emotional dysregulation and they can sometimes get to a place where they feel really dissociated or checked out in relationships. And so I would say, like I said, that's a little less common but it definitely can happen. But it's still those sort of behaviors that come from the other two.

Stephen Box [00:26:20]:
So for this person it's more like there's times where they really want that attachment, they seek it, but then just out of nowhere they're just like, I don't want anything to do with you.

Christina Abood [00:26:31]:
Yeah, they could, yeah.

Stephen Box [00:26:34]:
Which I'm sure being in a relationship with somebody like that is very confusing.

Christina Abood [00:26:38]:
Yeah, it is very confusing for sure.

Stephen Box [00:26:42]:
So if they were in a relationship with one of the other two types, I imagine if they're in a relationship with the avoidant, there's going to be times where it's going to seem really good. And when they're kind of avoiding each other right. It seems really good. But then sometimes it's like, okay, why are you all up on me right now? And then the exact opposite for the anxious person. When that person seeking attachment, they love it, but the moment they start pushing back, it's like, wait a minute, why are we pushing back now? What's going on?

Christina Abood [00:27:09]:
Yeah, these relationships, they're very up and down and they create a lot of problems. And one of the things too, that I want to point out with them is that you can shift and change in your attachment style, which is good news. But one of the things we see is that sometimes people who are secure that once they have a really stressful situation together as a couple, so let's say like having a baby, getting married, it can actually trigger them back into the spaces of feeling either anxious or avoidant or disorganized. But the good news, though, with all of this is that we all have secure attachment. That is who you truly are. It's not like a personality type, which I think a lot of people think that it is. They're like, oh, this is just who I am. But that's actually not true.

Christina Abood [00:28:01]:
It's not. You are wired to have a secure attachment. You might have learned how to connect with people in a certain way when you were younger, but that can change. It's not who you truly are. You actually have secure attachment within you.

Stephen Box [00:28:17]:
Yeah, there's a difference between personality, which is more just like a natural ingrained, like who you are as a person, and your behaviors. Right. Because sometimes behaviors don't necessarily match what people perceive as your personality. And so what you're talking about here is really these attachment styles are more like behaviors versus your actual personality, which is they're learned behaviors, which good news is anything you learn, you can unlearn.

Christina Abood [00:28:51]:
Exactly. Yes. They're just a reaction to well, these would be a reaction to your attachment and how you learned it. But you can learn anything, just like you can come back to the truth of who you are, which is to be secure and feeling healthy within yourself and having a good relationship with yourself and the people in your life. So that's who you truly are. Like you said, they're just behaviors. They're just things that have been learned. And I personally think that especially in the world of personal development, it's really just about you unlearning things.

Christina Abood [00:29:28]:
You don't have to learn anything new. You're just unlearning all the crap that's been piled on you for years. And that's pretty much what this is, just unlearning all of the ways that you've been told you are supposed to connect with somebody.

Stephen Box [00:29:42]:
So let's talk about the secure attachment. So what does that look like?

Christina Abood [00:29:46]:
Yeah, so a secure attachment is really the ideal situation. And I want to point this out because it's really important to say this, that when we're talking about attachment styles, a lot of people think it's black or white. It is not black or white. It is just not like that at all. It's actually I look at it more as like a pipeline where there are people who are, let's say, like extremely anxious. Right. They're at the bottom of this pipeline. And then there's like a threshold that you cross where you're falling into this secure realm.

Christina Abood [00:30:21]:
Right. And it's not necessarily even percentages because I know people are going to want to put that in my pipeline, but you really can't because nobody's perfect, nobody's going to be 100% secure. You just fall into that realm. And so you can be anywhere on this spectrum of feeling anxious, avoidant or disorganized. You can fall anywhere because there's people who are anxious, which is kind of where I was, which was like close to. Secure, but then you get with an avoidant partner. Or I did and then I was falling back sort of into this pipeline of feeling way more anxious than I normally was. And so it just depends on your partner.

Christina Abood [00:31:03]:
The same thing happens where you have a secure partner who gets to someone who's maybe avoidant and then the avoidance can then be pulled into the secure place. So it depends on your partners and it depends on where you're falling in this sort of pipeline. So secure attachment, it's the ideal situation. And the reason for that is just because it allows you to have healthier relationships with others and yourself. And if you have a secure attachment, which there's plenty of people out there who do, these people usually grew up with plenty of love, support, consistency. That's a huge thing from their caregivers. And as adults, they're interdependent. They know how to connect with others in healthy ways.

Christina Abood [00:31:49]:
They're okay with connection, they enjoy it, but they're also really okay on their own. So either one feels good to them, whatever place they are in their life. And they have a growth mindset, they're flexible, they have flexible thinking and they're open to a range of possibilities, right? They're not in the black and white thinking which a lot of people who fall into the insecure category have like all or nothing thinking. They know how to resolve conflicts without a lot of drama. And that doesn't mean that they're perfect. Not everyone has the exact language, but they can manage through without it becoming this huge up and down like I was describing. And they're comfortable with a range of emotions. And again, not every emotion, but for the most part they're there.

Christina Abood [00:32:35]:
They can hold space for their emotions and they can also hold space for others emotions. That's what being secure looks like. It's really having this relationship with yourself and your emotions. It's like a baseline, like pretty good.

Stephen Box [00:32:52]:
Yeah, I like this analogy. And anyone who has followed me for a while knows I love spectrums. I'm very big on spectrums. This is really kind of similar to what I always tell people about the idea of where I came up with the name unshakable habits from. Because people will create new habits. Habits really aren't that hard to create. And once they do that, they're okay for a little while. Then something happens where it gets busy, something happens in a relationship, whatever.

Stephen Box [00:33:30]:
And now all of a sudden, all of their habits, everything they work for, completely falls apart. And what I always talk to people about is society of unshakable habits are habits that you stick with even when life gets crazy. And that doesn't mean that they're perfect. It doesn't mean that you're doing everything at a level ten all the time. It just means that you're able to stick with it at least a little bit, even when things get crazy. So that there isn't this complete fall off. Right. And I hear a lot of similarities in what you're describing there because it's not about being this perfect person or never having any issues whatsoever.

Stephen Box [00:34:11]:
It's about learning to minimize. It's about learning to be able to bounce back from when things do happen. It's about being able to take a step back and process what's actually happening around you and changing the way you react to it.

Christina Abood [00:34:24]:
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's that resilience that you have in life and in relationships, in the narrative that you're telling yourself. And by moving to a more secure place, you're going to feel better, your relationships are going to feel better, you're going to be able to connect on a deeper level with the people in your life. And that just feels good. Like, life is about connection.

Stephen Box [00:34:54]:
Yeah. So let's talk a little bit practical here for a second. So let's go back to the three insecure styles and kind of give people some practical things that they can start doing if they think they're in one of these three styles in terms of moving more towards the secure end of the spectrum.

Christina Abood [00:35:15]:
Yeah. So I think the first thing is identifying where you're at and thinking about where you want to be. How do you really want to feel? Where do you feel like you're falling into? Like, if you're avoidant, how are you showing up? Really just getting real about the areas around where you might need to improve and then to become secure. I always have people start with learning to validate themselves and becoming comfortable with emotions because I am guilty of this. You guys, I'm a therapist. I don't know if I said at the beginning, but I'm a therapist. I'm a licensed therapist. I'm also a dating and relationship coach.

Christina Abood [00:35:58]:
And even when I was doing this work, for a long time, I thought I was comfortable with emotions, but I was just more comfortable with the pleasant ones. And so the unpleasant ones, I was like, oh, well, I shouldn't feel that way, or It's whatever, it is what it is. And I wouldn't actually allow myself to feel the emotion, and I would pretend like it was me just trying to move on because there was nothing I could do about it. But I since have learned that's not the way to deal with emotions and that it's okay to feel them, even if it's just for a moment, like acknowledging them and being okay with being uncomfortable. Unpleasant emotions are uncomfortable. That's fine. We all experience that, but we have to allow the space for them, even if it's just a moment, to be like, yeah, I feel upset, or I feel frustrated about this situation. Whatever it is, allow yourself to feel it and then validating yourself.

Christina Abood [00:37:02]:
Like, it's okay that I feel this way. If you feel a certain way, there's no time where you shouldn't feel some way. No time because you feel it, it's real. So acknowledging that and validating yourself just like you would like a kid if you were talking to, let's say, your nephew or your niece or maybe it's your own kid or whatever, you wouldn't be like, you're so stupid, why did you do that? You wouldn't say that to them, so why are you saying that to yourself? Would you tell them that they shouldn't feel a certain way? Like, no, right. Talking to yourself? I just use that example of a kid because it's like, you should be more compassionate to yourself, and it's an easy way to be like, yeah, I wouldn't talk to another kid that way. So using that same thing with yourself, and that's a really good place to start.

Stephen Box [00:37:57]:
Yeah, there's a couple of things there I want to unpack. So number one, I just want to say that indifference is an emotion. A lot of people don't recognize that. They think, well, I don't really have emotions because they're just indifferent to everything. It's like, well, no, indifference is an emotion. You can figure out why you are so indifferent to everything. But I love this idea of self compassion, especially for a lot of the guys out there, right. And I know for women it's the exact same, but I think it comes from two different places.

Stephen Box [00:38:27]:
For men, we've been taught to beat ourselves up, right? We've actually been taught that not only is it okay that it's actually productive to beat yourself up, I know so many guys that when they say they're going to do something and they don't follow through on it, they are like, I'm an idiot, I'm lazy. I need to say Get in the gym, right? Because I'm just so tired of being a lazy, fat person. And it's like, yeah, that's going to motivate you really talking to yourself that way. That's not going to work. So when you talked about the emotions, I know you said for a lot of people, it's easy to be comfortable with the positive emotions for a lot of people, but it's hard to deal with the other stuff. But what about the other side of that? What about the people who they can deal with the negative emotions just fine, but they really struggle to deal with feeling happy or excited or things like that? They struggle with those emotions.

Christina Abood [00:39:32]:
Yeah, it's the same thing. You got to get comfortable with it and knowing that it's going to be uncomfortable. That's the thing, is we don't like it. It's uncomfortable to us. So we're like, we're not going to do it, but you have to be okay and experience the discomfort. I've sat there in it. I know what it feels like. It's not comfy you're like, oh, what, is this going to end? But the cool thing is that emotions only last in the body for up to 90 seconds, which is pretty cool to think about because that's just a minute and a half.

Christina Abood [00:40:05]:
But the reason why it stays around is because of the thoughts that we have. So if you are having thoughts around, let's say you're feeling, like, really hurt. It's because there are thoughts going on that are perpetuating this feeling, which is fine, allow yourself to have them. But noticing, what are you actually saying to yourself? Are you saying that you're an idiot and you're stupid and you shouldn't feel this way and this is dumb? It doesn't matter anyway. All of that is just feeding that negative talk cycle. And like you said, it's not going to motivate you. It's a false sense of motivation. It's like how your brain has learned to motivate you.

Christina Abood [00:40:49]:
Maybe you do go to the gym, but is that really helpful? It's not, because it doesn't matter. Even if you go to the gym and now you've lost 50 pounds, you look super good, whatever. You still don't like yourself. You're still not talking to yourself in a nice way. So at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. You have to start there. Because how you talk to yourself is, regardless of the external circumstances, you will still feel the exact same way.

Stephen Box [00:41:22]:
That bears repeating right there. It doesn't matter what changes you make in your life physically. If your thoughts are predominantly negative, you're still not going to like yourself. Because so many people think that changing external things is what's going to make them happy. If I can make more money, if I could get this job title, if I could lose 50 pounds, if I could have this house, if I could drive this car, I could wear these clothes. If your talk is negative, your self talk is negative, you're still not going to like yourself even if you have all those things.

Christina Abood [00:42:03]:
It's true. It doesn't matter because we've seen it over and over again. People get everything they want and they're still unhappy because it's not about the external. Yes, sure, more money would be great. Having ABS would be great. Cool. Go get those things. But it will not change the emotion that you feel inside.

Christina Abood [00:42:20]:
You might have cool, more cool gadgets, but you're not going to feel happier.

Stephen Box [00:42:25]:
Yeah, this is something. And I get pushback from guys sometimes when they first start working with me on this, but once I get them to buy in, they totally see the difference on it. Where I actually start with this idea of, okay, we're not going to worry about the scale or any of that stuff, right? We're going to focus on your mindset first, and let's help start getting you to change your perspective. Let's get you to start creating a vision, doing the behaviors of the person that you want to become. And once you start to become happy with the person you are outside of your goal, then you can decide, do I still want to pursue that goal or not? And if you do you're at least now pursuing it from a place of love versus a place of self hatred?

Christina Abood [00:43:15]:
If I could talk today yeah, absolutely. That's exactly what it is.

Stephen Box [00:43:20]:
It's.

Christina Abood [00:43:21]:
Even with these attachment styles, if you want to start changing, it has to be from a place of like, I love myself enough and I love the people in my life enough to start to move towards a more secure place, so that I can have deeper, more meaningful relationships, so that I can feel better in my body and in my mind. It has to be from that place. It can't be from, like, oh, I'm so shitty, I'm so anxious, or avoidant. And it's not who you are. That's why I don't think I said it in anything I've said before, but it's why I use the language of someone who experiences this, like, not an anxious person or an avoidant person. I try not to say that I don't think I did, but if I did know that it's intentional, why I say that? Because it's not who you are. Like, you being like, I'm an anxious person is the opposite of where we want to go. We want to be saying, I am moving towards a more secure attachment.

Christina Abood [00:44:26]:
I have a secure attachment. I am becoming a person who has this versus, like, I'm an anxious person, and I'm trying to be more secure. It's super different.

Stephen Box [00:44:36]:
Yeah. And I think there's so much there one thing I wanted to kind of dive into, though, is this idea of allowing yourself to sit with emotions, because I think that it sounds really hard, right, in terms of what am I supposed to do? Just sit on the floor with my feet crossed and palms facing up or something, and take some deep breaths? What does it look like when we tell people to sit with an emotion? What does it actually look like? Practically?

Christina Abood [00:45:13]:
Yeah. I have a funny story about this. So when I was much younger, I was seeing a therapist, and she actually said that to me. And at first I was like, what is this lady saying? I did not get it. But I finally understood she meant feel them, feel the emotions. And it was over time that she kept saying it. And so one of the things, like, when people hear that, they're like, okay, so should I just be sad all the time? Should I just be, like, angry? Twenty four seven. And it that's not what we're talking about.

Christina Abood [00:45:46]:
It's actually giving yourself permission to feel the emotion. And sometimes it can be like, especially if an emotion is really intrusive, like, if it's really coming up, I tell people, Allow yourself to feel it. Just sit there, set a timer, five minutes, have yourself a little pity party. That's what I call it. Just have a pity party. Be upset about it. Don't go into all the negative self talk, but allow yourself to just feel it. Let whatever thoughts need to come.

Christina Abood [00:46:17]:
And then when five minutes is up, it's like, okay, I'm letting this pass. I'm not stuffing it down, just letting it pass through. It happened. And then you can move into a more problem solving space or whatever you need to do, or you can write about it. A lot of people don't like writing, but I really encourage people to do it. They just write out all their thoughts and their feelings that's you allowing it out. Right. Maybe you need to do that and then go do a workout.

Christina Abood [00:46:49]:
Like go hit the gym and lift really hard or whatever. Let the emotion out, but also just give it the space it needs. Be okay with just feeling it.

Stephen Box [00:47:02]:
All right, so now I've got a tough question for you.

Christina Abood [00:47:04]:
Okay, I'm ready.

Stephen Box [00:47:07]:
So let's imagine that someone's listening to this today, and they start to realize, you know what, I have this avoidance style, or I have this anxious style, or maybe the blend of the two. Right. And they want to change it. Right. So they're thinking, okay, I would need to allow myself time to recognize my emotions. I need to think about what's going on. I need to process the thoughts and everything that are going on in my head, and then I can consciously start changing my language and all that stuff. Right.

Stephen Box [00:47:42]:
I got it. Cool. But then they go and they find themselves in a situation in the middle of thinking about how they're going to do all this stuff, and their significant other does something that kind of triggers right. What do they do in that moment?

Christina Abood [00:48:01]:
So if they're triggered from their significant.

Stephen Box [00:48:03]:
Other yeah, they haven't really started putting any of this in place yet. They're becoming aware of it, and now all of a sudden, they've had something happen that's triggered their natural responses here.

Christina Abood [00:48:16]:
Yeah. This kind of goes into another thing that I have people do, which is learning to self soothe and take care of yourself and to learn how to regulate. So that's what I would say to do, is that communicating with your partner, that you love them or whatever you'd say. Right. Allowing the reassurance. That's a really important part about communication, is that if you're not in a space to talk, that you respond with reassurance. Especially if you're in a relationship with someone who is anxious or avoidant or disorganized, like saying that and then, I love you. I'm going to go take 30 minutes to calm down, get my head together, and then we can have this conversation or like, whatever amount of time you need.

Christina Abood [00:49:04]:
And just actually when you feel your body starting to respond, so maybe it's like, I know for me, when I get angry, I start to feel like I can't think straight. My body starts to feel hot. My skin, my cheeks, they start to get red. Those are signs that I'm not able to have a conversation from a regulated place. That's when you start to notice it, not after it happens. When you start to notice it, it's like, hey, I need a break from this. Love you. Let's follow up in a little bit so I can go regulate, get my mind together and come back to it and then learning how to self soothe.

Christina Abood [00:49:40]:
So that is going back to that writing. Maybe it's like talking to a friend. Whatever it's going to be, you have to find ways on your own to self soothe.

Stephen Box [00:49:55]:
Okay. And I know for a lot of people, having these conversations can be very difficult, especially kind of in the heat of the moment to be able to look at somebody and say like, hey, you know what? I feel myself getting frustrated right now and I don't want to say something that I don't mean or that's going to be hurtful. Can we just come back to this conversation? Right? Is that literally what you would tell somebody to say? Or how would you tell them to approach that situation? Does it depend on your partner's attachment style?

Christina Abood [00:50:33]:
Yeah, that's exactly what I would say. And if you feel like your partner is going to be triggered by that, have a conversation with them before you're in an argument. Say, hey, I really want to work on us having more productive conversations or whatever, and then say, this is what I'm going to say when I'm noticing that maybe either one of us are not in a space to have the conversation and just getting clear on that language before you actually get into it and then doing it and actually taking the space. Like I said, with someone who is experiencing an anxious attachment, it's really important to provide that reassurance because that can trigger them, because they might interpret that. And maybe if you have in the past walked away or shut down in a situation, they're going to interpret that as an additional trigger. So just letting them know like, hey, love you, but I just need some space right now to get regulated.

Stephen Box [00:51:30]:
Yeah. And I think that was one of the things that went through my mind was I'm thinking about that avoidant person who probably normally does just run away from the situation. Or if they don't run away, then they attack. Right. Because that's the other way we tend to push people away. Fight or flight is fight or flight for a reason. When you're in that situation, if you're talking to somebody who does have this other style, then you pushing them away or running away, whichever one is your default mode could then just trigger them because in their mind, nothing is different. It's still the exact same situation.

Christina Abood [00:52:15]:
Exactly. Yeah. That's why I think the reassurance part is super important.

Stephen Box [00:52:21]:
So what about if you are the insecure person who has the anxiety or not? Insecure person? I did what you told me not to do. You have this insecure style of anxiety and your partner is the avoidant style. So with them, trying to come in closer is going to actually make them uncomfortable. So what would you say in that situation?

Christina Abood [00:52:48]:
Yeah, I would say the same. Giving them a reassurance like I love you. I feel like we're both dysregulated right now. I don't feel like we're in a good place to have this conversation. I'm going to give you some space. Let me know when you're ready to come back to this. Or let's check in in 2 hours or whatever. And I think it's also why it's really important to communicate before.

Christina Abood [00:53:15]:
You can definitely try this with a partner either way. But if you feel like your partner might be triggered by it, talk with them before so that they know that you're going to do this and they're both aware of it. And it's not coming from a place of like, I'm abandoning you, I'm leaving. Because the avoidant might be like, good, you're leaving me anyway. You want to communicate with them and that's an important part of this. But I do think taking the space when two people are dysregulated, you're not going to get anywhere when people are upset.

Stephen Box [00:53:47]:
Yeah. Okay, cool. Any final thoughts on this subject that you want to share with people? I guess we'll put it this way. If there was one big takeaway that somebody could leave with today, what would it be?

Christina Abood [00:54:01]:
Well, I have one more thing I want to say about how to move to a more secure place. And that is to it's really about being secure is really about attunement. Attunement to yourself and to others. So start practicing more presence with yourself. Right. Tuning into your body, like how it's feeling, tuning into your emotions, being more curious versus trying to control situations or trying to just be right in them. Like really coming with a genuine curiosity and wanting to understand your partner and others in situations. Family members, friends, coworkers, and just learning to be more present in yourself.

Christina Abood [00:54:40]:
And that is going to translate into being more present with others. And I would say the biggest takeaway is to remember that we all have secure attachment. It is who you are. It's truly who you are. So you don't have to do anything to be it. You are just shifting in the direction of becoming a more secure person and developing this relationship, this better relationship within yourself and with others.

Stephen Box [00:55:08]:
Yeah, I love both of those messages. And especially I just want to point out for a lot of people, when you start talking about being more present and being more aware, this is something that will be huge in multiple areas of your life. It's not just about relationships. You can apply this to so many different areas. It's one of the things I teach people even with things like hunger signals, just becoming aware of what your body is telling you and your hunger cues and things like that will help you eat better. And when you're exercising, learning to listen to your body is going to help you to move better and not hurt yourself. And in your environment, learning what you're feeling, understanding what things in your environment have positive or negative impact on you, you can apply it to literally every single area of your life and it can have a positive impact.

Christina Abood [00:56:03]:
Yes, absolutely.

Stephen Box [00:56:04]:
I agree. Yes. Awesome. So if someone wants to get a hold of you, Christine, what's the best way for them to do that?

Christina Abood [00:56:10]:
Yeah, they can find me at becoming Chrissy T on Instagram. I also have a podcast called Becoming the One, where we talk all about things like attachment styles, dating, relationships, anything from first dates all the way through to making a long term relationship work. It's a super fun show, so definitely check it out on Spotify and Apple. And you can also check me out at Beyond Therapy.com for therapy services. I also offer coaching and you have all that. You can link it in the description. Yeah.

Stephen Box [00:56:50]:
Okay. Awesome. And just so everybody knows, I'm actually going to be on your podcast as well, so hopefully everybody will check out that episode and we'll see how that conversation goes. I don't know what we're going to talk about just yet, so you all have to tune in and see what we talk about because you might miss something good if you don't.

Christina Abood [00:57:12]:
Yes. This is so much fun. Thank you so much for having me.

Stephen Box [00:57:16]:
Well, thank you. And thank you for coming and sharing this knowledge with us today and giving some insights in terms of these attachment styles. And hopefully everybody can take what we've given them today and become more aware and, as you said, start creating that awareness and their relationships are going to be able to blossom as a result of that.

Christina Abood [00:57:36]:
Yes, absolutely.

Stephen Box [00:57:37]:
All right. Well, as always, guys, this is Stephen Box reminding you that while we are not all born unshakable, we can all become unshakable. Thank you for listening to the Unshakable Habits podcast with Coach Stephen Box. Be sure to hit the subscribe button and help us spread the word by sharing the podcast with other men. If you're ready to create unshakable habits, you can learn more and connect with us unshakablehabits.com.

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