• Shanna Donhauser

Self-identifying your attachment strategy



This exercise prompts you to think about the ways that you respond in your attachment relationships. The goal is to hopefully generate enough information so that you can make an educated hypothesis for your baseline attachment strategy.


Many people inaccurately self-identify their strategy because they focus too much on behaviors. We all also have blind spots and it's hard to honestly and accurately self-reflect. If you're curious about your attachment strategies, this exercise will create a little bit of structure for your reflection process.


The exercise is detailed below and also available as a PDF:

Self-identifying your attachment strategy PDF
.pdf
Download PDF • 97KB


Set up and Instructions Set up:

- Journal, digital notepad, or audio recorder*

- 15-30 minutes for each section


Instructions:

1. Respond to each prompt. Try not to overthink and write what comes to mind.

2. Once you've completed all the prompts, give yourself a little time (1-3 days)

3. Re-read your responses. Don't edit. Answer the reflection section.

4. Share with someone you trust to be honest and kind and ask for their feedback using the reflection questions.


* I recommend otter.ai for audio-to-text


 

Section one

- What do you do when you need comfort?

- How do you know that you need comfort?

- Describe a time when you needed comfort. What happened? What did you do? How did you feel?

- Why do you think you respond in that way?


- What do you do when you're upset?

- How do you know that you're upset?

- Describe a time when you were upset. What happened? What did you do? How did you feel?

- Why do you think you respond in that way?


- What do you do when you're angry?

- How do you know that you're angry?

- Describe a time when you were angry. What happened? What did you do? How did you feel?

- Why do you think you respond in that way?


Section Two

Describe yourself in your relationship with others in five words or phrases.


For each word or phrase:

- Describe a specific memory that would illustrate that trait in your relationship with someone close to you (parent, spouse, child)


Section Three

- How did your childhood impact your adult personality?

- Why do you think your parents acted the way they did when you were young?

- How do you want to be like and unlike your parents?

- What other experiences impacted your adult development?



**Pause for a few days before moving on to the reflection questions**

 

Reflection questions - self

- Are my answers accurate? Is there any missing information? If so, what is missing?

- How am I making sense of what I've written/said?

- What sources of information are strongest (time/place, orders, emotions, intensity, strong images)?

Reflection questions - Trusted other

- Do my answers line up with how you know me?

- Do my conclusions make sense to you? Are they balanced?

- What sources of information are strongest (time/place, orders, emotions, intensity, strong images)?



 

What does it mean? In order to make any reasonable hypothesis to your attachment strategies, you need to make sense of how you process information.

Consider your biases and the missing information when you reflected on your responses.

Do you tend to focus on details that orient you to time/place or to the order of events? Does it seem like the reflection is happening to someone else, or that it's somewhat removed from you? How much emotion comes out in your reflection? Do you have many intense images, metaphors, or strong language?

Type A strategies Responses are matter-of-fact, organized, and easy to follow. You focus on "what" happened rather than personal experience and feelings. Positive feelings are explored more than negative ones which might be quickly glossed over.

Errors and omissions tend to be around emotions or trying to make things seem better than they were.

Type C strategies Responses are colorful, detailed, and somewhat rambling. You focus on how you felt and your personal experience rather than being exact about what happened. Negative emotions are clear and can be intense.

Errors and omissions tend to be around the sequence of events, the accuracy of the events, or exaggerated emotions.


Type B strategies Responses are organized, easy to follow, and emotional. There is often warmth or tenderness to your memories and writing. You explore both positive and negative things with honest assessment and reflection.

Errors and omissions don't impact the original responses in any significant way.

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