S2 Episode 38: Talk Nerdy to Me: Attachment Theory
Note: Transcripts are computer generated.
Sugar and Spikes is a science backed and semi sarcastic mental health podcast for a new type of business leader. Mental health concerns are occasionally addressed. But this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, mental, physical, metaphysical, or otherwise. That's a job for your doctor or therapist, not a podcast. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get on with the show.
Welcome back to another episode of the Sugar and Spikes podcast. I'm Dez, a serial content creator. And...
I'm Tammy, a psychologist.
A licensed one, though.
Yeah. This week, I'm pretty excited because we are kind of getting to the heart and soul of what Sugar and Spikes kind of set out to be. We've played with it. We've messed around,
Taking baby steps towards change.
And this is another avenue that we're trying. It's interesting, because I'm like, we're two years into it, and getting to what we actually set out to be
Yeah, but also like, I know, for a long time, we liked kind of the free flowing nature, because it was more conversational kind of more spoke to things we were already doing. But I think we've kind of evolved beyond like, listening to Dez and Tammy talk about things like they always do. And so like, I think we've just decided to adjust that a little bit because nothing stays the same. And we're evolving it all the time. So
Yeah. Well, and I think also, it's, it's interesting, because it speaks to a certain type of growth, because when we started it, it was like, What can we handle? What can we commit to? And now, what's really interesting to me is that was easier at the time, and framing something up and having more strategy and show notes and kind of like purpose, that feels easier now. So like speaking to, what this week holds is, we're going to hyper focused you all y'all. And we're diving into the concept of attachment, and how attachment there like A.) what is attachment theory? If you haven't heard of it B.) How does it kind of connect to business? Because it sounds really, to me like granted, I know what it is, but like initially, like oh, attachment, whatever, that doesn't mean anything. But how does it connect to business? Because it actually really does.
Yeah, it does. Yeah, so just kind of like a crash course not to go down the rabbit hole of what is attachment theory.
Our rabbit holes are pretty fun though.
I know, but this you can I mean,
This is ...
You can really
This is like
Theses and dissertation.
So okay. So basically, humans have attachment styles, different ways that we interact and behave in relationships. And these are formed in like, our early childhood experiences really quick.
Okay. It's safe to kind of say or assume that pretty much patterns, patterns repeat themselves.
Right. And this, that's where attachment theory kind of stems from is a pattern of behavior with people.
Give or take.
Yeah. But it's formed in early childhood and in relationship to kind of our primary caregiver and the way that the baby interacts with caregivers. And I'm not gonna say mom, because it isn't always mom.
But things can happen within that relationship, that kind of change how the baby interprets their behavior and how to connect. And there were there was a lot of this research going on in the 60s and 70s, like the strange situation and stuff like that.
Guys, after you're done listening to this, or when you get home, if you're listening to this on your commute, or wherever, please go Google "The Strange Situation" and watch that creepy as fuckkk video.
It is kind of creepy. But you know, I think some of the best psychological knowledge that come out of studies where you're like, What the fuck, like Stanford Prison Experiment?
Can't do that now.
But we learned a lot of really valuable things, but at the at who's expense?
At what cost?
So okay. Attachment, special emotional relationship between baby caregiver, okay. And so it's this exchange of comfort of care, pleasure, you're getting the baby how the baby gets their needs met and kind of these areas. So, John Bowlby was a really big person kind of in this attachment theory kind of realm. So, there's basically four, did I talk about it before?
No No, I cut you off because I was I got to what the idea of attachment theory is, but it's broken down into four.
Yeah, so there's my criteria, their security area, but type sorry. (mix of Dez and Tammy talking) Okay. So generally, there's four. So there's like secure attachment, right? Positive relationship between baby and caregiver, caregivers warm and the nurturing, and baby's needs are met. So baby cries, parent picks up the baby: changes, feeds, whatever, right? Okay, then there is ambivalent. So, there tends to be some sort of break in that cycle of trust, right. So most babies do develop secure attachment.
Because it's kind of hard to not. Like, it takes a certain level, like I know, for parents and stuff. And this isn't a parenting podcast, but like for so many folks, it's like, well, what if I mess up the kid, it takes a little bit of work.
Yeah. And even it's not even that that work can't be undone. Just, it takes a lot of work on the part of the person.
And it's hard, but very meaningful work. So they're secure. Most babies are securely attached, you know, you have a warm relationship with your caregiver, then you have ambivalent. So like, there's some sort of break in the cycle of trust that has happened. So ambivalent, they just kind of withdraw from attachments at all. So they don't attach to others. They believe they're all alone, they feel like it's like, a place where you kind of have to fuck over the other person before they fuck you over. And so they're constantly feeling attacked, they're constantly feeling like, it's them, and only them. And they like, don't give a shit about other people.
So Corporate America, wait did I just say that? (laughter)
Don't say that, then there's avoidant attachment. So they do have a warm relationship, but not all the time. So sometime, if the parents behaviors kind of erratic, and can't be predicted by the child, then they get, they don't know how to change their behavior to get their needs met. So they worry about it. They're anxious about it, they ruminate like that kind of later. Not in the moment, but like, people who are adults who have like anxious attachment, this is what they do. They ruminate. And then there's disordered attachment. So you have confusion, apprehension, there's some sort of trauma, like that's what you see with disordered attachment. So the thing is, is that attachment happens very early in our lives, and it will still affect us as adults, because these are like, the wiring that got laid in at the beginning.
Yeah, it's just during like, the kind of critical years, right, that's hardwire your brain,
Right. Because we know that like there's two prime developmental periods is like early childhood, and then again, as a teen. So these are the times when the most development and quote unquote, wiring is being laid.
So I thought it would be interesting to talk about how this relates to relationships as adults, not necessarily romantic relationships, but kind of expanding what we think of as a relationship, right? Because we've, I know, I have had this shift in my perspective, that relationships and relational work and businesses really important.
Yeah, we've, we've talked about it. One was like the Thin Founder Podcast, where we address the idea that business is relational at its core, and understanding how you attach. And I think like, to make it less like, for, like, harder to understand, but like, how you connect, because attachment style is a form of connection,
It's how you connect to others.
So like, we could say, your connection style, like understanding that can really help you navigate business relationships, and understand, like, the feedback and the interactions that are kind of kind of coming toward you
And what meanings you attached to those
Attach haha (laughter)
Because I think like, I like the idea of connecting some of these broader psychological topics to, well, of course to business, you're like, duh, that's what we've been doing the whole time. But ones that maybe don't seem so obvious.
Yeah, cuz so you came to me with this. And I was like, cool, but how does it connect?
I'm like it does. You're like, show me your work. And they did. I connected it like
Show me the Carfax
Three stripes, three stops. I don't know what I'm saying anymore. It's been a long week. Anyway. So the one that really kind of got my mind going on this is when people have anxious attachment styles.
Okay, can you dive a bit more into anxious attachment? I know you reviewed it really quick. But refresh people, since it may all be very new.
Yeah. Okay. So I'm keeping my notes because I want to keep it like not down this like, academic rabbit hole, which doesn't help anybody. So a child who's anxious, all right, or preoccupied, because that's going to come back around, they're highly distressed. And when you're fearful or preoccupied with the other person, and their responses and reactions, and you can't predict them, because you've learned through this caregiver attachment that you can't, then what happens is, you end up with more rumination. Preoccupation, thinking about things over and over and over, they get stuck in your brain, you can't let them go.
So hyper concerned over some sort of relationship that you're building, for example, like if I was at work, and if I was just like, ruminating on what does my boss think of me?
What am I fitting into the team? Is this okay? How, like, just kind of doing those constant checks?
You kind of bring it a bit forward.
Yes. And so like, another thing is, like, whatever you identify as the problem, whatever that is, I didn't like the way that person talked to me. I don't know what's going to happen here, then you can't stop ruminating on that problem. And whatever, if you feel like a wrong has been done to you or something that hasn't been fair, then you can't let that go. Because we've all known this people, right? Who just you can't let it go.
If it wasn't for the way he shut down my idea at the meeting, that project would be on time and it would be fine.
And a year later after that project is done and you still hold a grudge against that person. If he didn't do this at that one meeting, X,Y,&Z.
It'd be like life would be pie in the sky.
So people with anxious attachment, so they they have this, everything spinning in their brain around, around and around around. And they also tend to rate things people do to them like small hurts as more serious. So what might be kind of smaller, inconsequential to one person is not smaller, inconsequential to this person. And so they experience like, really high levels of anger, just like what you just said,
Like, fuck that guy. Forever.
Because he did that. And I could have had this and now I can't have this in there, like mourning the loss of something that never happened, right? Like I could have had this amazing life I could have had, blah blah blah. Like, you just go down that road of "What ifs" that just make you madder and madder and madder. So, so people, preoccupied people, anxious people, they tend to get pulled into their painful emotions pulled into the anger, like we all feel anger, right. And some people, they everyone copes with it a different way. But these people in particular get pulled towards those emotions.
It's kind of like for most people, a fire would generally burn itself out. But with anxious attachment, that fire keeps fueling itself and it grows larger and larger.
Right? And then you just these people are like, flooded by anger, hostility, yeah, that kind of thing. So, but it makes sense. If you take like, if you look at it in a developmental way, it makes sense. They had inconsistent parenting, and you and the child couldn't make sense of the parents behavior, like, one minute, you're this, the next minute, you're this like, I don't have I can't, right. And so you can't predict how the parent will react. So then you can't predict the future, you can't modify your behavior to change anything, because you don't really know what's going to happen. And then, knowing that you can't do anything to prevent whatever happens to you, you are left in this chronic state of anxiety all the time,
Always trying to cover your bases like trying to account for what your boss is going to say, trying to account for what your team members going to say, trying to account for what the executive is going to say, trying to account for what a client's going to say, for all possible outcomes like over covering your bases.
You can't even. The thing that's so crazy making is you can't do that
Like there's no,
You're you're on edge. Because every interaction feels absolutely unpredictable.
Yeah. Or like the undertone. Are they said it in this way? Or they said it in that way. You're doing like these play by plays of conversations, interactions, all that. And so I think it's important to say that people's attachment style is not conscious.
It's, and it's not intentional.
Would you say? Can it be a bit fluid? Or like ebb and flow?
Well, I'm sure it can. But it's like it's wired into your central nervous system.
And once a problem gets activated in your brain, like you think of how, if you think of nodes in your brain, like the problem, quote, unquote, gets activated, and think of how many other memories that's connected to this node? And how many that's connected to? And so like, you can't stop, you just are stuck. Yeah. Like, you know, the time when you're sitting on your phone and just typed nines over and over and over and over and over. That's what it feels like. And it's not intentional, right? They are probably pretty distressed by it. Like, I don't understand why I can't let this go. But it can't. Right. You know, and I won't. So then I kind of jumped to the this idea of closure, right? Everybody who's been in a relationship that has gone bad, has sought closure. Closure is kind of a myth, right? Because you're like, if I can just understand why this happened. What happened? Then I can let it go.
Is this closure specifically for the anxious attachment style, or all four of them?
So securely? attached? Not so much, right?
Because there's no need?
I mean, think about it, like, hey, it would have been nice to know what happened.
But I don't care.
But I can move on from it.
And maybe even care, but you can still move on.
Right. Yeah. But that's done. Okay.
So some people can do that. And you're talking about people who probably have, like more secure attachment. But when you get into these other attachment styles, other than secure, you start to see a lot of anxiety and problematic interacting with others.
So this idea of like, I just need them to tell me this. I just have to know why this happened, what they were thinking, how we ended up this way, and then I'll move on. But how many times have we said that? And then actually attempted to have that conversation? And then felt worse?
Yeah, I mean, the thing with that is like, I just, like need them to do XYZ, those things are really kind of shifted the way I thought about it, because I used to be the person that needed to have the last word.
It was really important because I'm very stubborn and very much an only child. Until I realized that I can't always have the last word because the person can decide like, whether or not they'll listen. And at the moment, I realized that I was giving them power. I was like, "Well, fuck that I'm done." You know, and just kind of like, walk away like, "Fine. They can think that. But we all know, that isn't what happened."
Yeah, yeah. And we've, most of us have said that to me. But I think you bring up a really good point, right? Like, when you as a person feel I just need the other person to do XYZ, you have no power to make them do that. You might be able to influence in a way, like, I guess, from influence, I kind of think of you might get them to have a conversation with you. But in terms of getting them to say exactly what you need to hear. How often is that really happened? Because we cannot control other people. There are boundaries, and limits to how much that can happen. And in a relationship you're talking about. You and me. And your thoughts, feelings, emotions, attachment style, my thoughts, feelings, emotions, attachment style. And so we're also assuming that there's a rational answer. But maybe there isn't.
Right. Like, who else is truly always rational? Nobody?
Me, 100% of the time.
You're always rational. (laughter)
The most rational person.
I mean, yeah. But if we, if anxious people aren't anxious with conscious intent, then what makes you think the other person?
Is totally meaning to do X, Y, or Z. It just doesn't make any sense. Right? When you kind of like, walk it through?
So, I think the one point I want to make and was made in an article that I was reading, and I really liked is that sometimes we feel we need something from another person to soothe us and regulate our emotions. However, I would challenge you that it's not really possible for another person to regulate your emotion.
It's work that has to be done by you.
Yeah. Well, and when I think about in terms of career, and I think this is what I was going to say. But anyway, I think about in terms of career and using this, if this dude didn't mess up my whole stricter in the meeting example, like thinking about this, like, yeah, we can talk about emotions and how we feel. But if there's this sort of projection, or even like knowledge that that did affect your career trajectory, the options are either, like, really kind of stew in that and develop this kind of like, I don't know, almost self fulfilling prophecy of well, I'm not going to advance and I'm not going to be successful, because that project was late. And because so and so like, has it out for me, or is rude or like, you know, just kind of like falling into that larger story, creating that larger story, that's one option, or saying, "That was rough. But he doesn't get to decide my career path, he doesn't decide my success at this organization, he doesn't decide my company success", you know, things like that. So, emotions, yes. And success growth, what you do after that, like, perceive slight, because I mean, like, we are talking assumptions, like, maybe that person didn't mean to say what he did, like, we aren't going to go and dive into that.
But like that, that perceived incident, it's your choice, whether or not that's going to affect the rest of your path, if that makes sense.
Yeah and like, for me, and this is just my way. Whenever something happens with with an interaction, and I'm like, "That was weird." or "I didn't like that, that didn't feel good." Or somebody is genuinely upset with me. I tend to take a step back and say, I think probably there was a misunderstanding here. So I assume good intention.
Because who hasn't heard someone and like, didn't have good intentions? Yeah. So it doesn't mean they have good intentions. But I'm just going to say like most people aren't dicks. Like they aren't meaning to do it.
All the time.
And I think it also speaks to like interacting with the world through a level of curiosity. And, oh god, I can't believe I'm going to admit or acknowledge this right now. But I've been reading a book by Gabby Bernstein.
I know. It's really like superficial for most of it. But one thing is, is she talks about walking through life with curiosity. And that's something we've talked about before
No, it's important, you know,
And just being like, "Oh, what is the meaning behind this?" And like, kind of dealing with the facts? It's interesting. She puts it in a pretty, like, professional way. So snaps to her.
But it's by operating under curiosity, it creates a very neutral playing field for everybody. I know, there have been times where things happen. And it's like, you know, just stating the facts. Like, I thought this, I experienced this. Did you mean, this? You know, things like that. And just acknowledging it and putting it out there as the facts and opening it up to a question. It can be difficult depends on you know, what type of situation we're talking about. But, like, it could create really good growth and further deepen that relationship. Because if you came to me and said, "You did this, like you made by coffee with dairy"
Because that's the best example I have right now. (laughter)
I'm vegan. Did you know I'm vegan?
Or you know, like..
And me just sitting here being like, they meant to give me dairy. You're just trying, they just don't believe that. I'm a vegan, like, they don't understand. Yeah, like,
Yeah, what are they thinking? Yeah, they're ridiculous, like, things like that. But like, if you came to me, like, in an interview or something like, Oh, hey, MVN Did you know, I'd be like, Oh, A.) this girl's really assertive. B.) like, there's immediate communication skills. And there's a certain level of trust that's built because there's this willingness for engagement in a conversation,
Right. Like, Hey, I don't know if you realized it, but I'm vegan, and then they go, Oh, I didn't know that. Okay, well, I just wanted to let you know, I realized you might not have Yeah, right. So like, assuming good intentions. And so when you assume good intentions, and you communicate that, then people don't come off as very defensive. Like I found, like, you gave me dairy. And I'm a vegan. That's way different from like, Hey, I can't really remember if we had talked about this, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm vegan. And so I don't drink dairy. Yeah. That think about those side by side can both be true.
Yeah. Well, and I think like defensiveness can be a really good indicator for how you're interacting with things. Because I messaged you about this last weekend, even I was seeing stuff on the internet where I was getting so defensive so fast, like unreasonably so like, my end result ended up just being like turning off the internet and like, I'm done. But being curious, like, what is my reaction to all this? Like, I know this person, they don't mean this. Things like that. So it's, it may not even be curiosity to the other person, but curiosity with your reaction at what is this telling me? You know? Like that showed me, you know, I've been online like a lot lately, I need to just kind of be done. And there was this other sort of internal learning that happened. So, I think here are three with extra relationships and curiosity with how you're still actively engaging with the world. Because yes, like, we talked about attachment theory, and we talked about these trends. And each new day, you come out a different person. So certain things are hardware, but the way they show themselves each day can be different.
Yeah. So I was thinking about you and I were talking about, it's fashion related.
Of course it is. So, we were talking about that jacket that I really like
Oh yeah, yeah! T
I'm like, "Oh, just really expensive." And you're like, "Yeah, but you've wanted it for like, two years." And then you were like, "You know, whenever I see something was more than hundred bucks, I kind of let it sit there. And then I go back and look later", because and that kind of speaks to this. Here was my initial response. And I don't really know about that. So I'm going to let it sit. And I'm going to come back to it when I'm not feeling as triggered, maybe not as tired, maybe not as this or that. And say, am I still having the same reaction? Or is there maybe some other way I could think about this now?
Yeah. I mean, I think with the exception of a few careers and professions, it's very rare that we need to interact with the world in a sort of like, gut check, immediate response sort of way. Yeah. Where we have to, like act on sort of an automatic response. And so with so many things, taking even like that breath to check in can really serve us well.
Right?! And like, knowing your process. So I'll give a personal example, don't be shocked, shocked. So for me, when I'm going through a big life change and a big transition. I don't like that at all. And I'm kind of like, I don't know, if I should be here, I kind of want to go back there.
I was going to say that you want to go back, you always want to go back.
I always want to go. I always do. Like, we're in Indiana now, let's just turn it around, like we're going back to Oregon. (laughter) But I know that that's my process. And I know that if I can just kind of get through that initial couple of weeks, and start to,
Months, years, depending on
To feel more grounded, then I just need help to manage through that difficult time distress. tolerance. Yeah. And you can get that however you get that, hopefully in healthy ways. And then you know, when you've gotten to the other side, okay, that was my process. So it's not even that you really have to change anything, not always, sometimes it's just like, I know, this is how I respond to change. And so I know where I'm at in that process and how I'm moving through it to get to the end.
Yeah and I mean, some of those things really only come with experience and trying things and getting messy, like use the moving piece as an example. And really like my situation with moving and I just realized this like maybe a couple weeks ago, was I went through the same exact feelings that I'm having now about like Oregon and the West Coast as I had when I moved from California to Oregon, where I like glamorized everything, and just just really like, wanting to go back and everything. And I was talking with my partner. And it was a few years until I kind of chilled out. Yeah, you know, because I mean, if you think about in terms of like, length and stuff, like I spent 18 years in Orange County, and then I did almost 10 in Portland, like getting over quote, quote unquote, getting over that within a year or even two, like, fully, it's slightly unreasonable, at least I'm going to tell myself, it's slightly unreasonable.
Well everybody has their own process, right? And it depends on I would say, level of functioning, like if your level of functioning is so severely compromised, we're in this new place, and it continues to be that way for a long time, then I would start to think that maybe I need to do something different. Maybe I need to talk to someone, maybe I maybe I need medication, whatever it is, because I not moving through that transition in a kind of like an average or expected timeframe. Now with that said, averages average as almost never anybody at the average were just clustered around. And so there's some wiggle room. And there's always outliers, right? Like, it doesn't happen often. But it happens. And so understanding how you're going to regulate your emotions, how you're going to get through that distress, what's important to you need, right? Kind of, I don't know, it speaks to self awareness, which is our ongoing theme for this. But and knowing how you're going to do that, who am I going to call? Do I need to call my troops do my troops need to call themselves in? Right? So all these kind of touch points along the way where you can make adjustments.
Well and like your average may not be the average was like when we talk about like, the larger average. There's still a lot of real, you know, so you'd be the higher end it with lower and things like that. So I feel like that's another important thing to know, because we always play the comparison game, which is not a game to play.
Yeah. It is like my kids, when they try to get me to play the what if game. Or what if this happens? What if that happens? I'm like, it hasn't happened yet so we're not going to do that.
It doesn't matter. What matters is what is right now. Yeah. Um, so to kind of put like, some sort of bow on this, like, interesting.
Okay, a bow. Knowing your attachment style right, knowing what it is can kind of help you figure out what your processes is. So then if you're like, really upset about something that happens, then you can be like, Oh, yeah, that's my initial process. Okay, I'm going to go back. And I'm going to do XYZ in a couple of days. And then see if I still feel the same way
Well and it's really like to capitalize on it, because your responses tell you things. And it would be a disservice to your experiences, if you just like, push it aside, and then go back to something and just like, still take that step, if that makes sense. Like, it is about, you know, thinking through everything. And this really connects with what we were talking about in the previous episode was Noelle, where it's taking the time to think about things. And when you give yourself the time, be it with clients, bosses, your team, when you give yourself the time to think through the trends and what's happening now, like what has happened before? What's happening now, what do I want to happen next? That gives you the space to set yourself up for success and to navigate it as strongly as you possibly can.
Yeah, and one thing that I would encourage is to maybe rehash it, therapist, friend, job therapist, exactly like somebody who can help you say, Well, what if it was this? Because our viewpoint is our viewpoint? And like, diversity of viewpoint only comes when you include other people.
Yeah, I think all of this is really to give yourself the space to carve that to carve the right path, you're working towards. Yeah. I mean, like the diversity of viewpoints helps, it helps fuel, that sense of curiosity, because I know there have been times where you and I have talked, and I've been like, they did this and you know, it's because of because they had it out for me, you know, they only said it because they're mad at me. Yeah. And you've called me out like, Well, how do you know that? Well because it just makes sense. Okay, and? You know, and really like causing that check, and forcing some space that may need to be made.
I'm forcing some space and some deeper thought. Like, I like what Noelle said, like, if somebody's thinking that they're going to jump into industry, like jump away from an industry and into another thing? Like, are you really saying you don't like the industry? Or is it really something else, and she had some really great things to like, think about, and to kind of walk yourself through that. Because sometimes when we're flooded with emotions, whether it's anger, whether we're burnt out, whether we're like, super sad, whatever, super anxious, like it gets really difficult to think, in a rational way. And that doesn't mean that emotions can't come into it. Because like, we want to be balanced, or at least, you know, some part of emotions and part of rationality together like Venn diagram and all that. But if you're feeling those strong emotions, that you're flooded with your ability to come to a conclusion, or to reason your way through it, is compromised. And so giving space to explore with another person to that and have them say, Well, have you really thought of this? Maybe you have it, and so it opens you up to say like, Okay, well, maybe I can think about this in a more adaptable way. That's what I would say. A more effective path.
Exactly. All right. I guess that wraps it up for this week.
Let us know what you thought of this kind of style with diving into more of like a psyche topic and then riffing off of it. We're on Instagram at Sugar and Spikes pod. Same thing for Facebook. We don't have Twitter. I am everywhere @dezwmba. If you like what we're doing just in general, go ahead and leave us a review on iTunes. Share it with a friend. If you're not a fan, but you know someone that may be a fan. Do the same thing. Share it with them. And we will be back next week with probably a different style of episodes.