How to Overcome Anxious Attachment Style Recognize Your Triggers
Attachment style refers to our patterns of connection with important people in our lives. These attachment patterns come from how we were cared for as children and affect how we relate to and interact with other people.
According to John Bowlby’s attachment theory, early interactions with parents and caregivers are critical to a child’s development. A positive and stable connection with parents or caregivers in early childhood helps children develop trust, confidence, and a sense of security.
What is the Anxious Attachment Style?
Many attachment studies that followed John Bowlby’s research recognized the presence of secure and insecure attachment styles.
Anxious attachment is a form of insecure attachment in which bonds are not founded on love, trust, and security but on fear. Insecure attachment means that a person grew up with emotionally distant parents who were inconsistent in meeting their needs or displayed mixed emotions. As a result, these people learned to self-regulate by acting needy or throwing temper tantrums to protect themselves.
Insecure attachment in early childhood teaches the child that they are not good enough to be loved or can never rely on people.
According to research, people who grew up in families with anxious attachment struggle to form and sustain meaningful adult relationships. They often get involved in toxic relationships and experience issues with behavior, anxiety, depression, or personality disorders.
So, suppose you grew up in a family with anxious attachment. As a result, you may have difficulty understanding and regulating your emotions, be too sensitive to rejection, and cling to others for acceptance. Alternatively, you might focus only on the red flags in your relationships, seeing everything as a threat, feeling anxious, and avoiding closeness and intimacy.
Types of Anxious Attachment Style
Growing up with an anxious attachment can shape you into an adult with an insecure attachment style, fearing rejection and relying on others for identity.
As a result, you may engage in emotionally destructive or abusive relationships, feeling responsible for your partner’s feelings and neglecting your own needs while attending to theirs. Or you may have trust issues, feeling emotionally distant, isolated, and lonely in your relationships.
Two forms of anxious attachment include:
- Anxious-ambivalent attachment
- Anxious-avoidant attachment
People raised by parents with unpredictable behavior never know what to expect when it comes to emotions, communication, and behavior. So, they sometimes develop into adults who feel unworthy and constantly need to prove themselves to other people.
They may be sensitive to rejection, always requiring their partners’ validation to feel loved and important and feeling stuck in anxiety and resentment. As a result, they may turn into people-pleasers, fixing their partners’ problems at their own expense and fearing abandonment.
People who have an anxious-avoidant attachment style were usually raised by emotionally distant parents or caregivers who did not support and encourage them.
Because of this lack of support, they learned not to trust people, struggling to build and maintain personal bonds. Even though they may crave closeness, these people have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.
Learning to Recognize Your Triggers
If you have an anxious attachment style, emotionally triggering situations can cause you to constantly focus on potential threats to your relationship, cling to your partner, or use guilt and blame to satisfy your needs in a relationship.
You may be continuously furious and irritated because you perceive everything as a possible threat to your relationship. However, since you are afraid of being rejected by your partner, you may redirect your hostility inward, feeling resentful, wounded, anxious, and sad.
For example, your anxiety may be triggered when your partner withdraws during an argument, becomes distracted, spends long hours at work, or forgets to text you back. Emotional triggers may also involve your partner’s inconsistent behavior or failure to compliment you (on a job well done, new haircut, etc.) or take you out on your anniversary (or forget about it altogether).
Learning to recognize your triggers can help you learn how to take care of yourself and your relationships in a healthier way.
How to Overcome Anxious Attachment Style
Overcoming anxious attachment can improve self-regulation and resilience, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by upsetting circumstances. In addition, it can help you manage frustration, express your needs assertively, and handle conflicts without becoming furious and aggressive.
Here are some things that may help overcome anxious attachment.
Understand Your Own Needs and Values
Getting clear about your needs and values can release stress and help you communicate what you need and want to your partner more openly. It may also teach you to care for your own emotional needs while giving your partner space and not relying on them for validation and approval.
Focus on Your Self-Care
Self-care strategies can help you focus on your needs, take care of your needs, and calm down when feeling anxious. Self-care may involve a lot of different things, from mindfulness meditation, affirmations, and exercise, to setting boundaries and inner child healing.
Boundaries are an essential component of self-care because they allow us to distinguish ourselves from others and prevent us from being manipulated or deceived.
Boundaries can also help us take responsibility for our own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Helping us understand who we are and what we want or don’t want.
If you grew up with anxious attachment, your abandoned and mistreated inner child can still cry out for love. This might lead you to think you are not enough. That’s why you try to satisfy everyone’s needs and remain in relationships where you aren’t appreciated. Psychotherapy may teach you how to treat your inner child with love and care, allowing you to heal.
Learning to Self-Soothe
Rather than relying on your spouse to meet your needs, engage in self-care to self-soothe and increase resilience. Self-soothing strategies may involve any activity that feels good and makes you feel better, such as:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Physical activity
- Listening to calming music
- Writing positive statements about yourself
- Spending time with positive people
- Finding a hobby
- Focused breathing
- Taking a warm bath
The degree to which we can think, feel, and act autonomously is indicated by our level of personal detachment. Detachment allows you to maintain control of your emotions and remain calm during triggering situations. If you can detach yourself, you will be less likely to feel quickly offended, resentful, and angry. You will also be able to effortlessly self-soothe and manage conflicts.
Keeping a journal can help you figure out what sets you off. Notice your feelings, stop ruminating, and learn how to focus on yourself.
Overcoming Anxious Attachment is About Building a Strong Support System
To reduce anxiety, use your support system in addition to self-care practices. Talking about your feelings with a close friend, family member, or a coach can help you feel supported. This can help you address anxiety, and brainstorm healthy ways to relieve negative emotions.