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50 Soft Skills for Lifelong Happiness and Success

50 Soft Skills for Lifelong Happiness and Success

I’m sure you’ve looked at some of your friends and thought: “How do they manage to be so happy all the time?” Perpetual happiness and consistent success appear to be the hallmarks of certain individuals. They get the best jobs. They are lucky in love. And they are always upbeat and smiling.

Perhaps you look on them with envy? It’s understandable. But as you’ll soon see, you can leave envy behind – and start to build your own happiness and success.

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You Probably Weren’t Taught Soft Skills at School

Have you come across the term ‘soft skills’ before? Most likely not. To be honest, it’s something that is rarely taught in schools. However, to be truly happy and successful you need to develop a wide-range of soft skills.

If you’re wondering what soft skills are, then think about skills related to your attitude, disposition and personality. (How you choose to communicate with others, for example.)

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Schools typically fail to develop our soft skills. For instance, you may know how to write a 1000-word essay on WW2, but do you know how to demonstrate your trustworthiness to a vulnerable, frightened person?

Why Soft Skills Are so Important

Soft skills can make a huge difference to your life. Without them, you’ll struggle to find work, partners and happiness. Soft skills really do matter.

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To give you a concrete example, think about a time when you interviewed for a job – but were unsuccessful. You may have been turned down because you lacked experience or qualifications, but it’s also possible that you lost the job due to having inadequate soft skills.

Situations such as interviews, require a variety of soft skills from the interviewee. These include: being a good listener, emphasizing with the interviewer, and demonstrating a positive attitude.

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To Be Happy and Successful, Develop These 50 Soft Skills

Happy and successful people are likely to have most (if not all) of the 50 soft skills listed below:

  1. The ability to listen. Through listening, you can learn from others. You’ll also gain more friends – as most people love to talk about themselves or their lives.
  2. Willingness to accept feedback. Whether good or bad, feedback is vital for your success. For example, by taking criticism on board, you may be able to make positive changes.
  3. Having a flexible approach. Flexibility is not taught in schools, but is required in all areas of life. Just think how many times you’ve had to adjust your plans to match a partner’s requirements?
  4. Assertive when needed. You may not be a naturally assertive person. However, you should definitely learn to be assertive when the situation requires it. For instance, if you need to ask a shopkeeper for a refund.
  5. Can focus on a task or problem. In today’s technology-drowned world, attention spans have dropped to all-time lows. Break out of this, and develop a powerful ability to focus on what needs doing. This will put you streets ahead of the average person.
  6. Understands the power of team working. Being able to work harmoniously in a team is a vital skill. Whether you work in a factory, office or shop, it’s inevitable that you’ll be part of a team. You must learn how to get on with others, and if you’re a team leader, you must also know how to motivate and inspire your team.
  7. Knows when to be competitive. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t class myself as a competitive person. However, I’ve learned that from time-to-time that being competitive is essential to success. In my case, I’ve had to regularly compete with other freelance writers for work. In your case, you may find yourself having to compete with colleagues to attain a higher position within your company.
  8. Confident in all situations. Successful people seem to ooze confidence. You’ll need to do the same if you want to match their success. If you lack confidence now, then try building it by completing small goals (which you can enlarge as your confidence grows).
  9. Understands how to resolve conflict. It’s sad to admit it, but conflict is everywhere. You probably argue with your partner, and fall-out with colleagues at work. For happiness’ sake, develop conflict resolution skills. This can be as simple as knowing when to walk away from a confrontation.
  10. Has a courteous and good-mannered personality. In my experience, many people are unaware of how they come across to others. For example, they may appear arrogant and aloof when they are simply trying to show self-confidence. To be courteous and good-mannered is to return to a relaxed, natural state. Put any pretensions aside, and let your inner charm shine for all to see.
  11. Enjoys providing great service. Whether dealing with customers or colleagues, be sure to put great service at the heart of all your interactions. By doing this, you’ll increase your chances of success, and also boost your personal happiness. Try it and see.
  12. Can deal with the stress of difficult circumstances. You’ve just lost a job that you’ve dedicated the last 10 years of your life to. Do you crumble from the shock – or do you quickly pick yourself up and look for opportunities? Sure, there are difficult circumstances to deal with in life. Nevertheless, always focus on the positive, and refuse to be dragged down by negative thoughts and emotions.
  13. Is quick at making decisions. I remember reading a self-help book that stated: “Winners make decisions quickly, losers make them slowly.” There’s definitely something to this. If you take days and weeks making decisions, you’ll often find yourself left behind by those who make decisions quickly. (And also act on these decisions quickly.)
  14. Is 100% trustworthy. Trust is vitally important in life. We’re bombarded daily by news stories of people being mugged, cheated and even killed. These relentless stories seep into our subconscious, and make us wary of everyone we come into contact with. To help counteract this, you must be 100% trustworthy at all times. By doing this, you’ll quickly gain the confidence of others, and soon develop a reputation for being honest and reliable.
  15. Has an eagerness to learn. Where would we be without learning? From our birth to adulthood, we constantly learned new things. However, as we aged further, many of us stopped learning. To stay young, happy and satisfied, re-ignite your enthusiasm for learning.
  16. Knows when to delegate tasks. Are you someone who likes to do everything yourself? If yes, you may find that you often run out of time and energy. If you have family members or colleagues whom you’re able to delegate tasks to, then use this option when needed. However, for this to work successfully, be sure to match delegated tasks to individuals with the relevant skills.
  17. Communicates clearly and effectively. Communication is at the heart of all personal and business interactions. It’s critical that you learn how to write and speak well. And of course, communication is not a one-way street. You must also be a good listener.
  18. Is fired-up with an abundance of energy. Have you noticed how famous celebrities seem to be super-energetic? They are lively, vivacious and charismatic. If you have low energy levels, you’re unlikely to be attracting success. Try boosting your energy through healthy eating, exercise and meditation.
  19. Has great interpersonal relationship skills. Happy people know how to interact harmoniously with others. They are comfortable communicating with people from all backgrounds and walks of life. They also know how to partake in constructive conversations and meetings. The best way to learn interpersonal skills, is to listen and watch others who are naturally great at this skill.
  20. When needed, can follow instructions. You may want to always do your own thing, but to be successful in life, sometimes you need to follow directions and instructions from others. For example, your manager may usually let you do your work in your own way, but occasionally, he may need to give you specific instructions on completing a task.
  21. When needed, can think ‘outside of the box’. I definitely don’t remember this skill being taught at my school. However, being able to think beyond a set of specific rules, regulations or limits can be a very valuable skill. It’s often the way that ‘game-changing’ ideas first come into play.
  22. Has a warm, approachable and friendly personality. Without a friendly personality, you’re unlikely to find many new friends, or exciting opportunities. As an example, if two people with the exact same skills and experience applied for a job, but one was friendly and the other was not, who do you think would get the job?
  23. Knows how to tell compelling stories. Stories are the lifeblood of society. You may recall the bedtime stories that your parents read to you when you were a child. From there, you most likely became addicted to reading novels and watching movies. Storytelling is global and timeless. Everyone loves stories. To succeed in life, learn how to be a great storyteller.
  24. Is endowed with a super-positive mental attitude. Negativity will get you nowhere. Life has so many ups and downs, that if you focus on the negative, you’ll quickly lose sight of what’s possible. Positive people constantly seek out opportunities. For sure, be realistic. But also carry a super-positive mental attitude with you at all times.
  25. Is highly-organized at all times. Do you class yourself as an organized person? If yes, do others also see you that way? Being highly-organized is not just desirable – it’s essential! Whether you want to climb the corporate ladder or write your first novel, being organized can make the difference between success and failure.
  26. Has persuasive powers. No, this isn’t some kind of superhero power! On the contrary, it’s an ability that many people have developed. Think of politicians and preachers. They have learned the art of communicating in a persuasive and convincing manner. Whatever your role in life, if you learn to communicate persuasively, you’ll likely go far.
  27. Is creative and innovative. Bill Gates, Michael Jackson and Elon Musk all excelled in their fields because they were creative and innovative. It allowed them to stand out from their competitors. You can do the same. Start by looking for ways to do things differently.
  28. Understands the power of non-verbal communications. If you’ve watched a nature program recently, you’ve likely seen how some animals communicate. For example, a wolf can control a cub just by using a specific look in its eyes. As for us humans… While we have the ability to speak, it’s estimated that 55% of our face-to-face communicationsactually takes place through body language.[1] In other words, our body language is the primary factor in the effectiveness of our communications with others.
  29. Has fantastic planning and goal-setting abilities. Without goals, we are simply drifting with the tide. If you desire success and achievement, then make sure that you have specific goals – and a plan to reach them. If you’ve never tried goal-setting before, start small, and build your way up to bigger and bigger goals.
  30. Thrives on problem solving. Take a look around. Problems are everywhere! Luckily, if you develop a strong problem solving capability, you’ll soon find yourself in demand. Many people run from problems. So, this leaves plenty of opportunities and work for those who thrive on finding solutions to problems.
  31. Knows how to make other people laugh. Can you imagine if humor didn’t exist? We’d be stuck in a dreary, lifeless world where everything was serious. I’m sure with your friends and family you have a great sense of humor. However, how about at work, or when you meet strangers? In these situations, perhaps you retreat into your shell. Break free, and add humor to all of your interactions (where appropriate). Your popularity will soar, and your personal happiness will climb too.
  32. Is always punctual. Think about how frustrating it is when buses or trains are running late. It often leads to people becoming stressed or angry. You should see your own timekeeping in a similar light. If you’re constantly late for meetings, people may not tell you, but they’re likely to be angry or fed up with you. Timekeeping is about respect for others. So, please be punctual!
  33. Is a master at reading body language. As we’ve seen in point 28, body language counts for approximately 55% of all face-to-face communications. Of course, that percentage is just an average. An expert body language reader will be able to take even more information from someone – just by observing their body language. It’s a very useful skill to have, as sometimes body language contradicts what someone is saying with words.
  34. Loves researching. You don’t have to be a scientist to benefit from research. It may be something as simple as researching the best laptop to buy. Successful people typically love researching. But it’s not just random research. They’re driven to research by a want to reach a certain goal or aim.
  35. Values and respects others. This is a soft skill that unfortunately, seems to be going out of fashion at present. Too many people have become self-centered, and put their desires above the needs of other people. Please don’t fall into this trap. Instead, make sure you value and respect all those you come into contact with. Interestingly, by respecting others, you’ll find they respect you more in return.
  36. Knows how to ‘stay on task’. “Wait, I just need to check my Facebook page….” You know how it goes. You start doing something, but within minutes, you get distracted by other people or breaking news, etc. I’ll be honest with you, it’s very easy to be distracted and lose focus on the task at hand. One thing that might help, though: turn off your cell phone, to avoid being interrupted by calls or messages.
  37. Keeps up-to-date with trends. Stagnant people aren’t interested in keeping up with the latest trends. They’ve given up on life, and no longer care what the world may have to offer. Don’t be like these people. Instead, have a keen eye on trends in the workplace, technology and health, etc. You’ll be a more interesting person to talk to, and you’ll also be able to make better decisions about your future.
  38. Expertly manages their time. Time management is more than just arriving to work early. It’s about knowing how to prioritize tasks, when to take breaks, and being able to plan projects. Time management is a hugely important skill that you should definitely learn (if you haven’t already). It can make your life easier and more productive.
  39. Adapts quickly and easily to change. Heraclitus famously said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Wise words. And in my experience, 100% accurate. Life is constantly evolving and changing, and if we pretend otherwise, we will find ourselves relentlessly unprepared. Happy and successful people know that life is forever changing. They’ve learned how to adapt quickly and easily to most changes that they encounter. You should do the same.
  40. Has learned the art of troubleshooting. The Cambridge Dictionary describes troubleshooting as follows: “Discovering why something does not work effectively and making suggestions about how to improve it.” Well said! This is a skill that you may need to work on. Firstly, you must find the motivation to really want to improve something. Once you have that, delve deep into the issue, and seek solutions.
  41. Understands the importance of being well-groomed. Imagine a lawyer turning up to court in a pair of faded blue jeans and a ripped T-Shirt. It’s likely the judge would have the lawyer removed from the courtroom! It’s an improbable scenario, but hopefully, it drives home the point that you must be appropriately dressed. Jeans and T-shirt are probably okay if you’re working for a Silicon Valley startup, but if you’re interviewing for a position at a local accountancy firm – you may want to stick to wearing a suit and tie.
  42. Strives for the ideal work-life balance. Happiness is not dependent on money. In fact, those who become obsessed with earning money, are often far from happy. As with most things in this world, balance is the key. Sure, you want to work hard and earn money. But just ensure that you leave enough time (and energy) to enjoy the rewards.
  43. Sees the best in others. If you’re honest with yourself, do you have this trait? Most of us don’t. However, it’s a fantastic skill to have. Seeing the best in others means that you can help them develop to the best of their potential. It also means that you can quickly build rapport and trust with other people.
  44. Knows the value of multi-tasking. If you work in an office environment, then you’re sure to recognize this scenario: You’re typing away at your computer, then your desk phone rings. You answer, but as you’re speaking to the caller, someone comes up to your desk and asks you a question. Situations like this can be overwhelming and frustrating. However, as they will always occur from time-to-time, you need to build a strategy of dealing with them. Multi-tasking can be taught, and I’d highly recommend that you learn to do it.
  45. Leads through example. Great leaders teach through example. They’re also willing to do any task that they may ask others to do. You can adopt this approach too. For example, instead of asking your team to work in a specific way, let them see how efficiently you work, and they’ll naturally want to copy that.
  46. Continually seeks to improve. The Japanese call this kaizen – the strategy of seeking continuous improvement. This could be about a business process, or the way an athlete prepares for a race. Whatever the circumstance, there’s almost certainly room to improve some part of the process. If you develop a mindset of constantly looking for ways to improve things, you’ll rapidly find yourself climbing the ladder of success.
  47. Is always persistent. Perseverance is another word for this. To reach the heights of success, you’ll definitely need to demonstrate this trait. Consider for a moment, that you’re attempting to start your first business. From an initial spark of inspiration, you’ll have hundreds of steps to complete before your business can be in operation. Any of these steps could be problematic, and without persistence your business may fail even before it gets through the starting gates.
  48. Can be patient when needed. Things don’t always go to plan, and delays can often creep into projects. Experienced professionals are well aware of this, and have developed patience to see themselves through these delays. You should do the same. Instead of getting frustrated and angry with delays, let patience work its magic. You’ll develop poise and calmness. And you can also use any downtime to work on other goals or projects.
  49. Keeps their emotions in check. In life, it’s normal to express emotions in certain circumstances (the death of a loved one, for example). However, if you’ve set your heart on success, then you’ll need to keep your emotions in check when you’re in ‘professional mode’. For instance, let’s say that your manager has just told you off for coming in a few minutes late to work. Your instinct might be to become angry, and argue with them. While this might make you feel good, it’s highly unlikely to help your chances of being promoted at work!
  50. Has a highly-developed sense of intuition. Many top business leaders admit to making some of their decisions based on ‘gut feeling’. In other words, they’ve developed their intuitive side to the point where they’re willing to trust its promptings. You can do the same. Tapping into your intuition can be boosted by: letting your subconscious work on a decision while you sleep, practicing meditation, or going for a walk in the park. These techniques allow your intuition to come to the surface. (Usually its hidden behind your constant mental chatter.)

As you can see, soft skills are an essential part of happiness and success. Develop the ones you already have, and adopt the ones you’re missing. Do this, and watch your happiness and success climb to new heights.

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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