Hello, my loves. Today, we are going to talk about healing anxious attachment.
When I found out there was a name for what I was, it completely changed my life. Like…oh my God, there’s a name for this? I’m not just psychotic? Amazing. So happy to know that.
…But now what?
You know you have an anxious or anxious-avoidant attachment style. (For my pure avoidants, don’t worry—your turn is coming next week!) You know how it’s manifesting. But how the fuck do you fix it?
Firstly, I want to do a quick refresher on what anxious attachment is.
Essentially, if you didn’t get your needs met in childhood—if you had an inconsistent parent or parents—this is going to develop an insecure attachment style within you.
As an adult, this will manifest as a constant fear that you’re going to be rejected, abandoned, left, hurt, betrayed, etcetera. And these fears will show themselves through you constantly being suspicious of your partner, being jealous of anyone that he’s talking to, wanting to check his phone or wanting to call a million times if he doesn’t pick up, or needing to solve any disagreements right then and there. You can’t step away and collect your thoughts, or let him step away to collect his; you need to talk it through immediately.
All in all, anxious attachment often comes down to a lack of self-trust.
When we don’t trust ourselves, we will often project that distrust onto another person.
For example, if your partner’s cheated on you seven times, you have good reason to suspect that they’re going to cheat on you for an eighth time. But if they’ve never cheated on you, nor given you any inkling that they might, then you being convinced that they’re going to cheat on you isn’t about a lack of trust in them; it’s a projection of your lack of self-trust.
This means that if they were to cheat on you, you don’t trust yourself to set a boundary. You don’t trust yourself to walk away if it happens. So you project that out as constant vigilance and suspicion around them cheating.
you were to cheat on me, I don’t trust myself to set a boundary, or I don’t trust myself to say that’s not okay, or I don’t trust myself to walk away.
This isn’t the only way anxious attachment can show up; anxious attachment can also manifest when you’re constantly relying on other people to validate you.
As humans, it is necessary for us to get validation from other people. It’s not talked about enough, but it actually is really important that we get validation from people outside of ourselves.
We don’t have perfect external awareness of ourselves. So when we have blinders on and we’re only receiving validation from ourselves, it can be tricky to actually see how well we’re doing…or, conversely, to see what we need to improve.
Having a network around you to build that external awareness is super important. But when other people are the sole source of validation for your sense of self—aka, you as a human being—that’s unhealthy. That’s codependent. That’s anxious attachment.
The standard method for healing anxious attachment that people are going to recommend is going to therapy, doing inner child work, and learning how to reparent yourself.
This method is absolutely beautiful; I’m absolutely for inner child work and reparenting. I have an entire module in my Connected Woman program on inner child work and reclaiming your sensitivity and all of those things. That’s all really important, and it’s key to healing your anxious attachment…
But that’s usually where people stop.
When people are trying to heal anxious attachment, they tend to read all the books, listen to the podcasts, do the courses, go to therapy, and gain all the awareness around their patterns…and then they just stop. There’s no choice that gets activated. So while they have awareness around why they’re anxiously attached and how that manifests for them, they don’t actually take the next step, which is choosing differently.
Here are the choices that need to be made in order to take steps toward healing anxious attachment…
Once upon a time, I would have identified myself as having a disorganized attachment style, otherwise known as anxious-avoidant.
So if I was with someone who was avoidant, I would turn anxious. If I was with someone who was more anxious, I would turn avoidant.
However, I rarely ended up in dynamics where my partner was the anxious one. So anxious used to be my default. I probably spent about eighty percent of my time in an anxiously attached state; now, it’s more like five percent.
How did I begin to make that shift? By actually saying no to the avoidant person.
So if you are dating someone who is more avoidant—someone who doesn’t want to commit, doesn’t want a relationship, doesn’t want to talk about anything, and has had you banging your head against a wall the entire time you’ve been together—that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about here. If you want to work on healing anxious attachment, you have to get away from the avoidant that enables that.
I remember going on a date right before I met Drew, and listen…the guy was great. He was an amazing man. But he told me that he would classify himself as an avoidant, and I knew right then I couldn’t go further with that. It was an automatic red flag for me.
Why? Because I was working on healing anxious attachment, and I knew that wasn’t something I wanted to engage in. I didn’t want to go for another avoidant person.
Healing my anxious attachment was about creating safety in myself, which included knowing that I was going to be okay if I said no to the avoidant man.
In order to really get committed to healing anxious attachment, I had to be able to say, “No. I fucking know how this feels. I’ve been here before, I know how this story ends, and I don’t like the ending. I know that this ends up with me having to beg for attention, beg for validation, and beg for reassurance, and I don’t want to do that.”
However, that meant I had to choose to say no. And a lot of people don’t want to do this, because the truth is…you’re benefiting from having an avoidant person in your life.
Nobody wants to hear that. But I want you to realize that by you keeping them around, you are benefiting. It gives you something. Otherwise, you wouldn’t keep them around.
By having an avoidant person in your life, you get to stay in your familiar narrative. You get to stay in what you know. You get to go cry to your friends about how hard it is, how your needs are never met, how he just can’t meet you, blah blah blah blah blah.
You get to be the victim. And if you want to start healing anxious attachment, you have to decide whether or not you’re willing to let that go.
The next piece of healing anxious attachment is, like I said, choice. Not just making the choice to say no to avoidant people, but making many different choices about how we want to be.
I will bang on about this over and over and over and over and over again: you have a choice in how you show up.
I love that you have all the awareness and you’ve read all the books on attachment styles and you want to start healing anxious attachment. Good for you. If you’re still choosing the same shit, then guess what? I don’t feel bad for you.
While I have empathy and compassion and grace for the fact that sometimes we get really triggered and our brain gets hijacked, we then have the opportunity to reflect on that and choose differently next time…or to go back and clean it up. But if you’re continuing to play out that pattern despite your awareness, that’s on you. You are responsible for how you show up in relationships.
Let’s say you go on a first date, and he shows you he’s avoidant. If you don’t end it there and instead go, “Well, I’m just going to see…” then I don’t feel bad for you. That’s a problem you’re choosing to have. Don’t come crying in three months when it hasn’t worked out because he’s avoidant.
Instead, in that moment, you have a decision. Either continue down that path and play with fire…or trust your inner knowing. Trust that somatic response that immediately makes you feel the ick.
It’s time to do something differently.
The other thing that really supported me when I was healing anxious attachment was surrounding myself with secure people.
For me, that meant hiring a mentor who was fucking secure. Because having someone who wouldn’t do the anxious-avoidant dance with me when I was freaking out in business, or I was freaking out about my relationships, was incredibly valuable.
When I would go anxious or I would go avoidant, they wouldn’t. And that was so beneficial for me. I could have my little freak out session, and then they would say, “Hey, it’s all good. We’re all good.” That helped me with healing anxious attachment, because I had someone secure who could reassure me when I went anxious.
Committing to healing anxious attachment is where you get to activate choice. You get to lean into the opposite of what you normally do.
So, I’m not saying that you should be more avoidant—instead, be more sovereign.
Trust yourself more. Be your own inner authority. If you’re constantly relying on other people for validation, start to rely on yourself for validation. Start to look at how you can support yourself more.
And remember, healing anxious attachment isn’t just about your romantic relationships. Anxious attachment shows up in your friendships. It’ll show up if you own your own business. If you’re a coach, it’ll show up with your clients. It’ll show up in your relationship to money. It will show up in your relationship with your body.
Anxious attachment will show up everywhere; therefore, healing anxious attachment requires you to make new, more sovereign choices everywhere.
I did it. And now I’m the secure mentor for my clients. I’m not going to become anxious when you go avoidant and don’t pay for the thing that you said that you wanted. I’m not going to go avoidant when your anxious attachment is influencing everything in your life.
So I encourage you to start noticing where you can lean in and start to make different choices. Because that’s the only way you’re really going to start healing anxious attachment.
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I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”