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How My 'Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style' Shows Up in the Workplace

Attachment to people can be really strange with people who have mental illness. This shows up at work especially to me because I have been with the company for nine years. I have built up a lot of relationships and have had a lot of feelings leaving the company. It seems impossible for me not to keep in touch with people. I am in a constant struggle not to press too hard for a response, and the anxiety that if they do not respond, our relationship is cut off.

This is particularly weird for me because in my personal life, it is astoundingly easy to cut people out of my life. But work is a beast. I have enjoyed validation throughout my career, especially when it comes to accomplishing goals and providing an environment conducive to productivity.

From a psychological standpoint, validation and needs remind me of John Bowlby’s extensive research on the concept of attachment. He talks about not only the different kinds of attachment styles, but the psychological need for connectedness.

Most attachment styles show up in childhood, in a child’s relationship to their caregiver. Since I come from an abusive background, I am ill equipped to maintain relationships without either being anxious about the future of my relationships or avoidant as to protect the vulnerability. This mainly presents with fearful-avoidant attachment characteristics because I am attached, but I do my best to make sure this person does not realize how far that attachment goes.

This creates a work environment where I could suddenly become cold or suddenly very needy for validation. Part of the fearful-avoidant attachment style that really spoke to me was how as adults, we can become very distraught when relationships end. I find this especially hard at work

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John Bowlby

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