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Feeling Alone? Learn to Carry Love in Your Heart

Use attachment theory to help you feel the warmth and acceptance of loved ones.

Key points

  • Securely attached people carry an inner sense of feeling accepted and comforted by loved ones, even when those people are not physically present.
  • Insecurely attached people often feel alone because they cannot carry the love of others within them.
  • Insecurely attached people can learn to carry the comfort of loved ones within them.
Source: jwvein/pixabay

Do you feel alone even though you have supportive family and friends? Are you unable to feel their love to comfort and encourage you unless you are physically with them? If you struggle with this dilemma, you might find it helpful to know that you can strengthen your ability to feel supported even when they are physically halfway around the world.

Attachment Theory

To help you understand your dilemma better, consider what attachment theory has to say about it. The theory explains that healthy relationships offer a safe haven and a secure base. When you feel comforted during difficult times by turning to a loved one, they are acting as a safe haven. When they support you in exploring yourself or your outside interests, they are acting as a secure base. By repeatedly having these experiences over time, you can develop a sense of carrying your comforting loved one inside you (offering proximity), something that attachment theory calls mental representations. It’s these mental representations that you want to be able to access when you are out of touch with those who support you.

Using Your Phone for Mental Representations

You can “prime” or strengthen your ability to use these mental representations to feel comforted and encouraged and to have a more secure attachment style. In my book Bouncing Back from Rejection, I explain a way of doing this with the help of your phone:

Choose someone who is a secure base. Think about whom you might turn to for support and encouragement when you are exploring new interests or pursuing personal growth. This person is a secure base for you.

Find a picture of this person on your phone. While it can be any picture, it might be more helpful to choose a picture depicting a positive experience you had together.

Save this picture in an easily accessible place on your phone. You might make it your wallpaper or save it in a favorites album. The idea is that it should be easy to find.

Set an alarm on your phone to look at this picture every day. While this exercise is based on research showing that secure base priming is helpful, there is no evidence on the best way to do it or the best frequency. I suggest that you look at this picture at least once or twice a day.

Every time the alarm goes off, “prime” your connection as a secure base. Look at the picture and do the following:

  • Pause long enough to revisit a memory of them being caring, supportive, and encouraging.
  • Repeat the following sentences (aloud, if possible), which reflect the three basic elements of secure attachment: proximity, safe haven, and secure base. Repeat them slowly and with a connection to what you are saying (or thinking):

________ genuinely cares about me, and just being near them is comforting.

If I am upset, I can ask for help and they will probably be there for me. This would help me feel relieved and better able to cope.

I can rely on ________ to support and encourage me in activities that I want to pursue.

Consider printing out or saving the sentences on your phone so that you always have them with you. Repeating them in a fully connected way over time will fill your heart with a sense of your loved one, and you’ll never again need to feel truly alone.

For more on this topic, check out this brief video: