A few weeks ago we took a look at the 5 Common Thought Traps Faced by the Anxious Attachment Style. We will continue on a similar vein this week discussing the common thought traps faced by the avoidant attachment style.
Everyone with a pulse gets caught up in thought traps from time to time. No one is completely immune to them. However, with knowledge and awareness, we can debunk and fight back against these unhelpful ways of thinking!
As outlined in the previous article, thought traps (also known as cognitive distortions) are ways that our minds convince us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate or illogical thoughts are used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions. They serve to reassure and keep us from feeling bad about ourselves, but can often end up creating more harm then good.
Thought traps are common in our everyday thinking, but play a special role if we are anxious or depressed. These patterns can really trip us up and keep us in a negative and disconnected state of mind. I discuss thought traps daily with clients and have seen that each attachment style has a very unique approach and mindset surrounding their relationships. Certain attachment styles are more prone to specific thought traps than others.
This week let’s take a look at the avoidant attachment style.
The avoidant attachment style is characterized by a distinct need for independence. If someone is threatening their independence, for example they feel their partner is “too clingy”, the avoidant person may turn to deactivating behaviours to suffocate intimacy and restore their sense of independence. For more information on this style you can browse here.
I am not saying that the thought traps listed below are exclusive to those who have an avoidant attachment style, or even that every avoidant person experiences each one of these traps. The following list is simply an effort to make the avoidant person more aware of their inclinations, and a way to help their partner better understand them:
- Blaming others: not taking responsibility in conflicts/situations and always believing that it is the other person’s fault. For example, “if they weren’t so inconsiderate I wouldn’t have to react the way I do.”
- Failure to consider other explanations: seeing your perception and opinion of the situation as fact. Failing to recognize that you are biased to your perspective and that your partner sees things differently. Your opinions are not fact; they are one person’s experience of a multifaceted event.
- Filtering or Fault Finding: only seeing the negative and filtering out the positive. For example, only seeing the negative things that your partner does and overlooking all of the kind and thoughtful things they do. For the avoidant attachment style I also call this fault finding, as they will often isolate and focus on their partners flaws in order to create emotional distance. This can also lead to another thought trap: Comparing.
- Comparing: Comparing is similar to faultfinding but it often has to do with comparing our current partner with others that have gotten away. Often times feeling like you have lost the one, or that your first love was so intense and amazing that nothing that comes after could and will ever compare. Everyone you date afterwards is measured to this lost love.
- All or nothing thinking: seeing things in polar extremes, with no middle ground. For example, setting an unrealistic standard of perfection in relationships and then avoiding commitment because your expectations are unrealistic. Not being able to find the middle ground or more realistic alternative. All or nothing thinking is an extreme form of fault finding and comparing. Seeing things in such a black and white manner may cause you to avoid intimacy or close relationships all together.
Don’t panic if you feel like you get stuck in one or all of those traps, I even find them sneaking up on me every once in a while. As outline in the previous article, the key to dealing with these negative thought patterns effectively is to:
- First, pay attention to and identify your thoughts. So often our self-talk is mindless rambling in our head that we don’t pay attention to—but we need to! It has more of an impact on you than you think.
- Second, when you identify some of these thoughts, write them down and keep track of them. Putting them on paper or in a note on your phone helps you to remember and be more aware.
- Third, instead of just believing the negative thoughts, learn to question them. Weigh the evidence for and against, and try to get to the realistic thoughts and facts of the situation.
- Lastly, if your still stuck, talk to a trusted friend and ask their opinion. Friends can be more objective and can help us to weigh the facts in a more realistic, less emotionally charged way.
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Wishing you love,