In today's blog I'm going to give you some tips on how to heal the anxious attachment style. I had somebody reach out to me asking if I could help them heal their anxious attachment style, if that was at all possible. I can reassure you that your attachment style can be changed. It can be healed to a more secure attachment style, but it takes time and work.
I think it's important to understand how the anxious attachment style was formed early on in childhood. Your primary caregiver, whether your parents or somebody else, were at some point inconsistent with the way that they showed you love and affection. They may have been really loving, but the love just wasn't there consistently. Now, this may not have been something that they were intentionally doing because you don't know what you don't know.
Take myself for instance, my dad left when I was three years old and he went to the military. The way that we were able to spend time was very sparingly. He was often stationed out of town or across seas. When he came into town he would make sure he spent time with me, but in my mind I would fear him leaving again.
That type of style is what I eventually took later on into my romantic relationships. I would fear the same thing from my future spouses because whenever I felt them pulling away, or if I felt them being angry with me, or it felt like they were losing interest in me I would panic. Even when we were having the best times of our lives and were at some of the peaks of our affection and love for each other I would still panic. I felt as if it was only a matter of time before they saw a flaw in me or they found somebody better than me. So I would pull them closer and a lot of the time that pushed them even further away. The way that I pulled them close was by smothering them, trying to control what they did, manipulating them by trying to break up with them when I felt like they were going to break up with me – kind of like beat them to the punch. A lot of those things were made up in my own head.
With that being said, let's get into how you can help heal yourself and become a more secure attachment style. The first thing you need to do is learn to be able to self soothe yourself more in relationships. When things are a little bit rocky, or you don't hear back from your spouse when you need to, or you get into an argument, or you're just going through some issues it's important to be able to soothe yourself and not have to rely on your spouse to make you feel comfortable. Anxious attachers have a hard time feeling fulfilled within themselves so they turn to the spouse or to external things to help make them feel comfortable within their own skin. They may need people to validate them. They need pats on the back and they need to constantly ask people for validation because they don't feel as if they're worthy of any good. So a good thing to do is to validate yourself. Don't ask people for their opinion on anything, just believe in yourself and your abilities and try not to turn to other people for their input on something. Know that what you're doing and what you've done is great.
Now I know it sounds really simplistic in the way that I'm explaining it, but it'll be a good place to start. If you're in a romantic relationship you need to prompt yourself when those thoughts are getting out of control because they can spiral really fast. Just a little seed of doubt or insecurity can grow rapidly in an anxious attacker's mind. It could have no sense of truth to it at all. We're pretty good at making up the worst case scenario for when somebody is pulling away from us.
Another way that really helped me out was finding a purpose. Doing something where I could channel that energy. We obsess over things and if you found a purpose that you can feel fulfilled in and can focus a lot of your energies on, that'll be huge. So find your purpose, which is hard in itself. We wake up every day, we pray to god to keep our family safe, keep us healthy, and help us find our purpose. Whatever it is that lights you up, makes you feel as if this is the reason you were put on this earth, then find that. When you're single, or you're feeling as if your spouse is pulling away from you, you can turn your attention towards that. It'll give you that same feeling of fulfillment that you would turn to your spouse for when you are needing that emotional high, because that's what it does. You feel an emotional high when that person is close to you and when they're giving you love and affection. It's exhausting for other people because they don't want to have to be that person all the time.
Be able to prompt yourself when you feel those thoughts going out of control. Tell yourself that this is just the anxious in me. You need to understand that you can't control what people do. If people are going to cheat on you or if people are going to leave you, let them. You don't need them to make you a whole person. When people say, “that's my better half,” I don't really like that statement. We're all whole beings journeying together. If you ask somebody else to join you on that journey that's just a bonus, it's not what's going to complete you.