Attachment is good, no doubt. After all, holding on to something that gives you happiness and pleasure is to be expected. It makes sense that you might resist losing someone or something you love.
However, there is a fine line separating healthy and unhealthy attachments. When you start feeling that you would rather let go of the essential things in life in favor of this object of attachment, you are entering the unhealthy territory.
Anxious attachment is one of the unhealthy attachment styles. Those suffering from this affliction have a hard time feeling secure in relationships.
Causes and solutions are not hard to figure out. This article takes a look at the possible anxious attachment triggers, symptoms, and cures for anxious attachment.
What is the anxious attachment style?
It is a type of attachment style rooted in insecurity, abandonment, and unappreciation. Also known as anxious preoccupied attachment disorder, those suffering from this are often labeled as needy. They tend to cling to people in their lives and are devastated when they leave.
People with anxious attachment have low self-esteem and are prone to anxiety. They want to keep the people they care for close to them and suspect that this feeling is not reciprocated. There is a lot of uncertainty in their relationships with others.
How does it develop?
Anxious attachment is a product of an insecure and unstable childhood. If a parent or parents are unpredictable and/or emotionally insensitive, the child feels confused about what to expect from them. One moment they will be showering the child with love and attention and making them feel secure. But on occasions, the child feels abandoned and uncared for.
Lack of consistency in love, attention, and security can leave a child confused. They are not sure what to expect and crave attention, love, and security.
This experience in childhood continues as they progress into adulthood. They have a hard time placing their trust in others. They desist from depending on others.
Childhood trauma may result in permanent changes in your brain. The Amygdala, the part of the brain that helps you to detect danger may become enlarged because of the trauma. This enlarged and overactive amygdala makes you see threats when there are none. When you start doubting your ability to process threats as you think you may be overreacting, you may actually end up missing many actual threats. All these will make you feel unreliable and anxious.
Genetics may also have a role to play in the development of this disorder.
How to know if you have anxious attachment?
People suffering from anxious attachment disorder often experience these symptoms in their relationships.
- Feeling of insecurity
- Tendency to be possessive or clingy
- Distrust of others
- Low self-esteem
- Anger, anxiety, and resentment
- Fearful of abandonment and being rejected
- Long for intimacy but feel overwhelmed by it
The disorder is apparent in the behavior as well. Some common behavior patterns for anxious attachment are:
- Blaming self when things go wrong
- Overanalyzing why your calls and messages are not answered or returned
- Assuming the worst outcome
- Daydreaming about a perfect life
- Fearing that you are not liked or loved
- Feeling the constant need to prove yourself to others
- Believing that you lack in something and are less than perfect
- Feelings of neediness, desolation, loneliness, and desperation
- Feeling the urge to make things better even if it is at your own expense
- Thinking too much about others and how they fall below your expectations
- Emotional outbursts when the behavior of other don’t match up to your expectations
- Unsure of your behavior and doubting whether you are overreacting
How to heal anxious attachment?
If you feel you have anxious attachment disorder, you can help yourself by calming the anxious mind, stimulating the part of your brain that is more considerate and supportive, boosting your self-belief and inner strength, and reconnecting with yourself.
Here are some steps for healing anxious attachment.
1. Calm your nervous system
When you feel the anxiety welling up inside you, you can resort to a variety of tactics to create a break in the thought process. Doing something as simple as pausing and taking 3-5 deep breaths can provide the necessary break.
To keep the emotions in check, you can include meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, or exercising in your daily routine. Massage, acupuncture, and therapy are also helpful. Find out what works for you and follow it.
2. Regular self-care
Nothing soothes your mind and body than giving yourself the attention you deserve and pampering yourself. Recharge and rejuvenate yourself daily to ensure that your mind remains in a positive space. By keeping negativity away, you can eliminate anxiety and stress in life. These self-care strategies also help in raising your self-worth, mindfulness, and resilience.
3. Take charge of your thoughts
Most of the mind-related problems crop up or worsen when you allow your mental health to slide. When you notice negative thoughts creeping in, nip them in the bud. Don’t allow them to take root and wreak havoc in your mind. You can find your own ways to overcome negative thoughts.
In case, you are already experiencing stress and anxiety, take steps to regain control of your mind. Negativity is much more powerful than positive thoughts. This means you need to put in the extra effort. Practicing mindfulness, affirmations, and gratitude are found to be immensely helpful for this.
4. Let out some steam
But be careful to do it constructively. Express the suppressed emotions you are feeling through activities such as journaling. Making music, painting, and writing can clear away some of the pent-up emotions that have been tormenting you.
You can try journaling from the perspective of your inner child. The confusion, bewilderment, and the need for love, attention, and security you felt as a child can be dealt with through journaling. Try reparenting the inner child in you by assuming the role of an empowered adult by offering advice to heal the trauma.
Here are some habits to avoid to keep anxious attachment disorder in check.
- Don’t compromise your worth to make someone else happy.
- Avoid harmful behaviors like binge eating or drinking and not eating or sleeping enough.
- Don’t make yourself too available to others. By doing this, you are neglecting and abandoning yourself and your needs.
- Don’t take resort to negative thinking.
- Avoid the savior complex, an extension of the childhood fantasy of being saved from your miserable existence. By putting others on a pedestal, you are giving them power over yourself.
- Don’t feel the need to prove yourself to others. By doing this, you are exposing yourself to manipulation and exploitation.
- Avoid fight-or-flight mode. This is not productive.
There are red flags that should trigger concern in any relationship, especially if you’re in one that isn’t healthy. Learn the signs of an unhealthy relationship and how to avoid them from this article – Red Flags of Unhealthy Relationship.
Patience is the key to succeeding in overcoming anxious attachment disorder. The recovery is not an overnight process. It can be hard and challenging yet rewarding and liberating.
You can practice self-care strategies that involve implementing self-regulation and setting healthy boundaries. This will help raise your self-belief, self-worth, and confidence, giving you a sense of empowerment and well-being.
- How to Practice Mindfulness for Anxiety
- Being in a Relationship with Someone Who has Anxiety
- 36 Powerful Positive Affirmations for Anxiety and Fear
- How to Overcome Anxious Preoccupied Attachment
- How to Move from Anxious Attachment to Secure?
- Signs of Secure Attachment in Adults
- 7 Signs of Signs of Self-Sabotaging Behavior