Securely Attached Book Summary - Securely Attached Book explained in key points
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Securely Attached summary

Eli Harwood

Transform Your Attachment Patterns into Loving, Lasting Romantic Relationships

3.9 (62 ratings)
21 mins
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    Securely Attached
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    Understanding attachment strategies

    Ready to take a deep dive into your past and figure out why you act the way you do in relationships? Being a detective in your own life story can be both eye-opening and game-changing. But fair warning: delving into past relationships, particularly early experiences with caregivers, can be emotionally challenging. So, be kind to yourself and take breaks if you need to. 

    Let’s start by talking about the unique conditions facing human infants. They’re super dependent on caregivers, more so than any other critters in the animal kingdom. Unlike other mammals, we humans are born barely able to see, and the most we can grip is an adult’s pinky finger. These very drawbacks are what allow our brains to grow like crazy outside of the womb. But it also means we’re super sensitive to how our caregivers treat us. And their responses can shape our relational patterns for years and years to come.

    These relational patterns, by the way, are sorted into several categories. There’s one form of secure attachment, which is called –⁠ ho-hum –⁠ secure attachment. Then there are three types of insecure attachments: anxious ambivalent, anxious avoidant, and disorganized.

    Somewhat confusingly, these attachment strategies change names when they’re applied to adults. The secure attachment strategy for adults is called secure autonomous. The three insecure strategies are called preoccupied, dismissive, and unresolved disorganized, respectively. 

    Before we continue, note that we don’t use the term “attachment style.” Instead, we use “attachment pattern,” “strategy,” or “category” because that’s the terminology used in the developmental research. 

    Now, each attachment category is associated with distinct traits. Securely attached infants show distress when separated from their caregivers but are easily reassured when they return. Likewise, securely attached adults tend to have balanced relationships, effectively communicating their needs and responding with empathy to others. They skillfully navigate the balance between intimacy and independence.

    How about the insecure kids? Well, the anxious ambivalent attachment strategy often includes intense “seeking” behaviors – that is, seeking for a caregiver. But they also don’t calm down easily when their caregivers return. In adulthood, those with preoccupied attachment are extra-sensitive to others’ emotions. They tend to express their needs dramatically, can be clingy, and might constantly seek reassurance from others.

    Then there’s anxious avoidant attachment. Kids using this strategy appear outwardly undisturbed when their caregivers go away, but inside, they’re deeply stressed. However, instead of seeking out comfort from their caregivers, they avoid them. As adults, those with dismissive attachment might be uncomfortable with emotions, preferring distraction over emotional engagement. They rarely communicate their emotional needs and pride themselves on their self-sufficiency – which often comes at the expense of emotional connection. 

    Finally, disorganized attachment in childhood manifests as erratic behavior. Children using this strategy oscillate between various stress responses and appear fearful of their caregivers. In adulthood, unresolved disorganized attachment might look like fluctuation between seeking and rejecting closeness, difficulties with trust, and an overall sense of insecurity in relationships. This pattern is often the result of a history of abuse or neglect, which leads to a chaotic and defensive approach to relationships. 

    Understanding which category you fall into requires some serious self-reflection on your relationship patterns and how they’ve been shaped by your life experiences. And here’s a twist: you can switch categories throughout your life, and you can use different attachment strategies with different people. So it’s not all set in stone.

    Oh, and here’s another secret –⁠ there’s actually another attachment you can have. That’s earned secure attachment! In other words, you can learn how to use a secure attachment strategy –⁠ even if you lean toward insecurity right now. 

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    What is Securely Attached about?

    Securely Attached (2023) is an insightful exploration into the world of attachment theory and its practical implications in everyday life. It delves into how different attachment strategies, formed during early childhood, influence the way individuals interact and bond with others throughout their lives. Offering a multitude of reflection exercises, questions, and tips, its goal is to help people recognize the attachment strategies they’re currently using and help them transition to earned secure attachment over time.

    Securely Attached Review

    Securely Attached (2021) by Eli Harwood is a book that explores the importance of forming healthy and secure attachments in relationships. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful research and scientific evidence, helping readers understand the significance of secure attachment in all aspects of life.
    • The book offers practical strategies and techniques to cultivate secure attachments, empowering readers to build strong and fulfilling relationships.
    • Through compelling stories and relatable examples, the book brings the concepts of secure attachment to life, ensuring an engaging and captivating reading experience.

    Who should read Securely Attached?

    • People in romantic relationships seeking insight into their attachment strategies
    • Parents looking for guidance on building secure attachments with their children
    • Anyone who knows or suspects they’re using insecure attachment strategies

    About the Author

    Eli Harwood is a licensed therapist from Colorado who has spent much of her life researching attachment theory. She combines her clinical expertise with her passion for educating others by writing and doing outreach on social media as the “Attachment Nerd.” She also runs workshops both online and in person on varied topics including attachment patterns, inner child work, setting boundaries, and many more.

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    Securely Attached FAQs 

    What is the main message of Securely Attached?

    Securely Attached emphasizes the importance of strong emotional bonds and relationships in our lives.

    How long does it take to read Securely Attached?

    The reading time for Securely Attached varies, but our summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Securely Attached a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Securely Attached is a valuable read for anyone interested in understanding attachment and its impact on our lives.

    Who is the author of Securely Attached?

    Securely Attached is written by Eli Harwood.

    What to read after Securely Attached?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Securely Attached, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Lessons for Living by Phil Stutz
    • The Sacred and the Profane by Mircea Eliade
    • Plays Well with Others by Eric Barker
    • Make Possibilities Happen by Grace Hawthorne
    • 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by H. Norman Wright
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