At kasahorow, we want to understand what causes exclusionary behaviours. Teaching people to be inclusive starts with an understanding of what might be driving these behaviours. We may exhibit exclusionary behaviours when we are upset and at our most vulnerable. One way of understanding what might be driving particular exclusionary behaviour in these situations is through Attachment Theory.
According to Attachment Theory, each person has an attachment style that explains the way in which they relate to other people. The theory, developed by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby in the 1950s, links the way we currently form attachments in our adult relationships to our earliest relationships with our caregivers.
Attachment styles are defined by the way we respond emotionally to others and how we interact with them. There are four main attachment styles:
Secure: Individuals who can maintain healthy emotional relationships.
Anxious: Individuals who seek approval and may become overly dependent on a partner, often expecting the worst in relationships.
Avoidant: Individuals who avoid closeness with others and distrust those around them.
Fearful-avoidant: Individuals who desire close relationships but exhibit avoidance behaviours for fear of being hurt or rejected.
We believe this aligns with our work studying inclusion in our communities. For instance, our pilot project focuses on contemporary views on gender and sexuality in West Africa. We are interested in understanding any links that might exist between people’s views around gender and sexuality and their attachment styles.
At kasahorow, we believe that in order to improve and promote inclusion in our society, people need to learn how to form secure attachments. Understanding our attachment style and what makes us feel insecure in our relationships may help us move towards more healthy attachments with the people we live and work with in our communities. A secure attachment is one where we are able to keep and manage relationships with diverse people and work through emergent challenges by communicating with them without fear or anxiety. A secure response to a threatening individual will not seek to isolate the threatening individual. Instead, a secure response will repair the insecurity with a variation of the following procedure:
How can you restore your safety?
Your friend does X. X ruins your safety.
- You: ”I need our relationship.”
- You: ”If X happens then I feel anger.”
- You: ”What will restore our relationship?”
If their answer removes your anger then your love will return.
Take a moment to fill out our attachment style survey to help us understand our readers. The survey includes a link to the attachment style quiz to help you understand your own attachment style if you don’t already know yours. Once you understand your attachment style and that of those around you, you can practise your mending skills and focus on how you can help yourself and others feel secure in your relationships.