Do you feel loved and accepted by the people in your life, regardless of your looks? What is the relationship between attachment style and disordered eating? How can you begin to form secure attachments with people?
In this podcast, Dr. Castagnini speaks with Dr. Brittany Woolford about why attachment style matters and its relationship with disordered eating.
MEET DR. BRITTANY WOOLFORD
Brittany has always been passionate about the psychology behind relationships. After completing her bachelors degree in psychology at Whitworth University, she went on to earn her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Texas. Brittany founded Lone Wolf No Longer in 2020 and has been helping create healthy authentic relationships ever since.
Visit her website. Connect on Instagram and Facebook.
IN THIS PODCAST
- What are attachment styles?
- Common traits of anxious and secure attachments
- Attachment styles and eating disorders
What are attachment styles?
Your attachment style is informed by experiences that you had in your childhood and whether you learned from these experiences that people were trustworthy and good, or were unsafe and volatile.
Attachment theory is this idea [that] you’ve learned ways of navigating the world to keep yourself safe. You’ve learned things about [yourself]: “am I capable … of taking care of myself? Am I not? Are others trustworthy or not, are they going to be there for me when I need [them to be] or are they not going to be?” That’s what formed these different attachment styles. (Dr. Brittany Woolford)
Types of attachment styles:
1 – Secure attachment: “I know that I can trust myself and that I can trust others.”
2 – Anxious attachment: “Others are good and I’m not good.”
- People with secure attachments can more easily deal with relationships,
- Not worried about their partner leaving or abandoning them,
- They want to lean into others and know that relationships are safe places,
- They feel secure alone and secure in relationships and do not seek one out of a place of lack.
3 – Avoidant attachment: “I think I am good and other people are not.”
- People with anxious attachment feel incapable of caring for themselves,
- They do not trust themselves to get their own needs met, therefore they constantly need other people to take care of them,
- Because they think they are not good, they are constantly worried that their partners are going to leave them or break up with them.
4 – Anxious and avoidant attachment: “I want intimacy, but I will pull away when you give it to me.”
- People with avoidant attachment are often high-achievers and want to control everything,
- They want to do everything on their own because they think they cannot rely on anyone,
- They feel overwhelmed when people need things from them because they provide themselves with all of their love.
- This style is more infrequent, however does exist. It is also known as the disorganized or fearful attachment style.
- They seek intimacy but push it away when they find it,
- They think they are not worthy but also think that other people are not trustworthy,
Luckily due to modern psychology and research, you can work through these unconscious beliefs, and so your attachment style is not set for life.
With proper counseling and self-awareness, you can learn to bring your attachment styles towards a more secure place, instead of being overly avoidant or anxious.
Common traits of anxious and secure attachments
Depending on the person, relationship traits can manifest in different ways depending on the attachment style of the person. Some common traits are:
For anxious attachment:
For secure attachment:
- Being hypervigilant about any changes in their partner,
- Sees any small change as a sign that their partner is getting ready to leave them,
- Becomes emotionally invested in small events and builds stories in their minds about what small things mean or signify,
- They may feel afraid to express their needs to their partner for fear of pushing them away,
- They often have dramatic relationships, break-ups, or are constantly in relationships.
- They notice changes and ask about them without building stories around them,
- They practice clear and kind communication with their partner when they notice a behavioral change, instead of making up stories about the change,
- People with secure attachment are good with placing their boundaries,
- Are good with telling their partner what their wants and needs are.
Attachment styles and eating disorders
Every person that I talk to that has an anxious attachment style … their body image is such a thing. Whenever they sense rejection their first go-to is “well, it’s because I’m not thin enough, that’s why they rejected me.” … Or when they start dating someone new, even if they have been okay body-image and confidence-wise … that can be super triggering. (Dr. Brittany Woolford)
It is important to remember that most of the time people interact with you as if you are a mirror for themselves.
Almost all the things that someone says to you when they criticize or are harmful to you is a reflection of how they feel about and treat themselves.
Be mindful of how people make you feel. If your partner or family makes you feel inadequate, makes you doubt yourself, or feel ashamed of your body, you know it is time to put some boundaries in place.
When you want to form secure attachments, be aware of which people make you feel good and wholesome about who you are, and they do not only validate you by what you look like.
[Find] people that make you feel really great and awesome about yourself. If you ever have a relationship with people in general and after spending time with them you don’t feel good about yourself; you feel anxious or self-conscious, or negative about your body, this is not an environment to cultivate that secure attachment. People that think you are a rockstar, [those] are the people you want to be around. (Dr. Brittany Woolford)
MEET DR. CRISTINA CASTAGNINI
I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist.
While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well.
One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand".
Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it.
If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times.
My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it".
I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades.
But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share.
I am so happy you are here!
THANKS FOR LISTENING
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