WHAT IS THE ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT STYLE?
As mentioned in previous articles, the anxious attachment style stems from inconsistent emotional support during childhood. Inconsistency can be a result of a supportive but consistently absent parent, or other scenarios where a parent can relate and understand their child, but not always the availability. Consequently, the child will feel a sense of abandonment, will self-sacrifice to meet the needs of others in adulthood. By self-sacrificing to “people please”, they subconsciously believe that those around them will not abandon them.
Those with an anxious attachment style tend to feel they are not good enough, a strong sense of loneliness, a sense of rejection, and as though they are unlovable – all due to the core subconscious wounds created during their childhood. By recognizing the origin of these feelings, you will be able to reprogram them to more accurately represent your true worth and improve your relationships.
HOW TO OVERCOME CORE WOUNDS
Recognize Where Your Feelings are Originating From
As children, we are reliant upon our caregivers for survival. Therefore, you need to recognize that many of your feelings of anxiety that arise from a partner who is seemingly unavailable originate from your primal, subconscious fear of abandonment. Once you can acknowledge and address the origin of your emotions, you need to make a distinction between your past and present.
HOW TO HEAL THE ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT STYLE
Remember in this moment that you are safe, your needs are taken care of. For example, your partner not answering their phone for a few hours is not a repetition of the abandonment you experienced in your childhood – moreover, you now can fend for yourself with or without your partner, and this isn’t about survival. By recognizing and differentiating the circumstances, you address your trigger and perceive your reality more accurately. Further, by making this distinction every time you fear abandonment, you will be able to teach your subconscious that your reality is now different than it was in childhood.
FOCUS ON SELF-CONNECTION
People with an anxious attachment are hypersensitive to the people and relationships they have outside of themselves. Due to their core fear of abandonment, they tend to focus on connecting with others, and often forget about looking intrinsically to address their own needs. Essentially, people with an anxious attachment also emotionally abandon themselves in favor of seeking approval of others.
However, this causes a disproportionate allocation of your energy – and this further fuels your belief that you need others to be alright. The thing is, you do not. To overcome the belief that you can’t be self-sufficient, you must reprogram your subconscious through repetition and emotion. Keep in mind that you did not come into this world with these beliefs – your mind learned them through repetitive, emotionally-based experiences. Therefore, you must re-learn the opposite to overcome these beliefs. By writing down: “I am safe, and I can rely on myself to get my needs met because [fill in the blank with a specific example of what you do or have done]”, you will gradually convince yourself, through multiple examples, that you truly can be self-sufficient and meet your own needs.
The examples that you use can be as simple as: “I am safe, and I can rely on myself to get my needs met because when I was overwhelmed last week I took the time to go for a walk and calm myself down”.
Once you realize that you can truly be the primary source of getting your needs met, you will address the core anxiety surrounding your fear of being abandoned and not being able to survive without others. To help solidify your new, updated beliefs, there is a five-step process that you can follow.
THE FIVE STEP RE-PROGRAMMING PROCESS
1. Identify and Label the Pain You Feel in The Moment
To illustrate what this means, let’s consider an example. You have a new date arranged for Friday night, but they haven’t gotten back to you to confirm. Ask yourself: what do you feel in this situation? It will most likely be anxiety, stress, fear of abandonment, or many other emotions along a similar spectrum. Begin by identifying your feelings so that you can then convert them.
2. Ask Yourself: What Meaning am I Giving to the Situation?
Ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself to elicit the emotional response you are having. The stories you’re telling yourself may be that you’re not good enough, not interesting enough, you will never find a partner, or a variety of other perceptions that may actually be entirely inaccurate. Write these beliefs down to help clearly identify the meaning that you’re assigning to the situation.
3. Question These Beliefs
Ask yourself: can you absolutely know these thoughts are true? This work is meant to undo the inaccurate perceptions that you may still be viewing your life through as a result of the experiences you had in childhood, and the subconscious programs that may still be running your life. Therefore, by questioning the validity of these beliefs, you can truly look at your reality through a updated lenses.
4. Find Proof of The Opposite
As mentioned earlier in this article, you must find examples that contradict your negative beliefs to help reprogram your subconscious. By finding proof of the opposite, you will be able to recognize that the stories you are telling yourself are inaccurate. For example, find a time where you were good enough or someone did care about you. Again, by repeatedly proving to yourself that you truly are good enough and can be self-sufficient, you will help to undo the negative associations you are still carrying from your childhood.
5. If Things Don’t Work Out – Look for a Strategy
Occasionally, the negative things that we are telling ourselves are come to fruition. If we find we are faced with such a situation, look for a strategy. This is still part of your healing process. As an anxious avoidant, by looking for a different strategy and investing your energy into a positively oriented solution, you are only further proving to yourself that you truly can be self-sufficient. This could include taking time to work on yourself or go on that blind date your friend is trying to set you up on.
Overall, regardless of the circumstances, someone with an anxious attachment must work towards first recognizing and meeting their own needs. Once they have, they will be better equipped to love themselves and love others.