Imagine this. You are about to get into a taxi that will bring you to the airport for life’s biggest adventures, but you turn to find your suitcase thrown open with everything spewed out. You panic and rummage through your clothes, blindly packing them to catch your waiting (and very impatient) taxi driver. You get to the airport and you realize you left all of your important necessities at home.
Now you are not ready to face what’s ahead of you and you feel horrible, defeated, lost, and frustrated.
That suitcase is supposed to symbolize your attachment in relationships and how healthy and unhealthy they are. Your relational suitcase was not neatly packed, things were missing, and you didn’t really look at what you were throwing into it — it was chaos.
That’s not a great way to start your trip through life, is it?
So, what is in your relational luggage?
“Our attachment relationships pack our suitcases”, says attachment expert Eli Harwood (also known as The Attachment Nerd) — especially during our formative years.
Secure attachment relationships act as the carefully packed items within, providing a solid sense of worthiness, clear expectations, and an alliance with our bodies and emotions.
You will want these in life to help you move through and face certain obstacles.
Harwood explains, “Insecure attachment experiences leave our relational backpacks without all the things we need to feel secure in ourselves and our adult relationships.”
Within this metaphorical suitcase, three pivotal signs emerge as surefire indicators of a securely packed emotional toolkit, illuminating the path toward healthy and fulfilling relationships. Three things you should look out for and obtain.
If you don’t have a suitcase full of all the things you need to feel securely attached, then it’s time you learned a thing or two about packing your suitcase.
3 Surefire Signs Your Relational Luggage Is Packed With All The Right Things — And You Have A Secure Attachment Style
1. You actively offer your people care and empathy when they reach for you in tender or distressing moments.
Imagine your suitcase has kindness and understanding inside. If you can share that with friends when they’re feeling sad or stressed, it’s like using the good stuff from your suitcase to make their journey easier.
Securely attached individuals intuitively respond to the emotional needs of their loved ones, creating a supportive environment that nurtures connection. This active engagement is akin to unpacking a well-prepared kit for relationship-building, reinforcing a sense of security and trust within the shared journey.
2. You soothe easily in response to care from others.
In your suitcase, there’s a cozy blanket of comfort. If someone’s care makes you feel warm and comfy, it’s like using that blanket to feel better — a sign your suitcase is set up well.
This signifies an emotional resilience and an openness to being comforted, akin to finding the perfect tools for self-soothing.
The capacity to be soothed becomes an essential item in the suitcase, contributing to emotional well-being and creating a reciprocal cycle where both partners feel secure in expressing vulnerability and offering support.
3. You actively reach for your close people when you are feeling tender or distressed.
Think of your suitcase having a friendly flashlight. If you’re not feeling great, you can reach out to pals for support; it’s like shining that friendly light and letting them know what’s going on.
In a securely attached individual, this proactive approach to seeking comfort and support is a natural response, akin to having a well-organized compartment for emotional expression.
Actively reaching for loved ones not only fosters intimacy but also communicates a willingness to share one’s emotional state openly, promoting a deeper understanding and connection.
If these don’t match your relational patterns it’s probably time to put in some work develop a secure attachment pattern!
The most important thing to have in your relational luggage is your own ability to reach for people.
“One of the most pervasive and toxic relationship problems I have seen between partners, friends, and family members is that many people do not know how to effectively reach for others when they are feeling vulnerable,” says Harwood.
“This lack of effective reaching is rooted in insecure attachment. Securely attached children reach for their caregivers when they are in distress and securely attached adults reach for their people, sweethearts and besties when they are feeling tender or emotionally dysregulated,” Harwood writes in an Instagram caption.
She continues, “Reaching for our people does not burden them if we reach freely and, in fact, it builds intimacy and increases our bond with one another. But we need to reach with our needs overtly shared and then allow ourselves to be soothed by the care our people offer us (as long as they do, in fact, offer care).
If this sounds foreign to you it might be because it is foreign in your life. If you did not have emotionally warm and connected parents you stopped reaching for them very young (the research says likely you stopped bidding for connection in tender moments before you were even one year old). This can still be learned!”
The key is to be open to change and get out of your comfort zone to be vulnerable and grow.
You may not have come into adulthood with a well-packed emotional suitcase, but you can certainly add all the healthy things you need to it now.
Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She’s had bylines in Emerson College’s literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.