How to Overcome Anxious Attachment
Mon Oct 16 2023
Mon Nov 20 2023
The Personal Development School
Like all attachment styles, an anxious preoccupied (AP) attachment style is formed in childhood.
Also known as anxiously attached (AA), this style may come up due to inconsistent parenting, such as a parent who worked long, unpredictable hours, to the point where a child never knew if and when their parent would be there to care for them.
This creates a fear of abandonment and, in adulthood and romantic relationships, the fear of others leaving them.
An anxiously attached individual typically seeks reassurance often in a relationship (such as calling or texting multiple times) due to a parenting style that left them feeling alone or abandoned.
The result is that they have a hard time self-soothing or getting in touch with their own feelings and needs.
That's why it's important to understand the characteristics of an anxiously attached individual, so you know how to overcome it.
Anxious Attachment Style Characteristics
If you have an anxious attachment style, some classic characteristics might include:
-- Difficulty spending time alone
-- Fear of abandonment
-- The constant worry that something bad will happen
-- Low self-esteem
-- The constant need for reassurance
-- Having a hard time self-soothing or reassuring yourself
To overcome an anxious preoccupied style and move into a secure attachment style where you’re able to self-connect and don’t need constant validation from others, here are 6 strategies to try.
6 Ways to Overcome an Anxious Attachment Style
1) Identify your core beliefs and thinking patterns.
One of the first steps to overcoming an anxious attachment style is identifying exactly what core beliefs and thinking patterns look like for your adult self.
To do this, you can try an integrated attachment theory process called the BTEA Process, which stands for “beliefs lead to thoughts which lead to emotions and actions.”
With the BTEA Process, you’ll create a chart that starts with emotions you’re feeling (such as anxiety), then trace that back to thoughts (“He’s going to leave me because he hasn’t texted me back”), which then leads us back to a core wound (“I will be abandoned”). Once the core wound is identified, you can begin actually reprogramming those core wounds.
Through this exercise, which you can understand in greater depth via The Personal Development School’s reprogramming core wounds, you’ll gain a clearer understanding of your subconscious patterns, which can help them become conscious patterns that you’re able to resist more easily.
2) Try an auto-suggestion reprogramming ritual.
This ritual uses a trance-like state that we can create ourselves through a body scan, deep meditation, or breathwork.
In the first hour after we wake up and the last hour before we go to bed, our brains can enter this state more easily, so that might be the best time of day for you to try this exercise.
Auto-suggestion works by using repetition and emotion, so pick a core belief that triggers you. “I will be abandoned,” “I’m alone,” “something bad will happen” or “I am rejected” are all common examples.
From there, you’ll try to oppose it by creating new neurocircuits of repetition to deprogram or balance it out.
For example, replace “I will be rejected” with “I am accepted.” Looking for proof of this fact can help, too: Finding 10-15 examples of times you’ve been accepted in the past can help you believe this more easily.
In order to cement this practice, try repeating this exercise for 21 days. You’ll slowly notice that these anxious beliefs, thoughts, and feelings come up less often.
3) Practice questioning your stories.
Notice what stories come up for you in anxious moments, and practice challenging and questioning those stories. For example, if your partner doesn’t call you back when you said they would, you may naturally jump to the conclusion that they got into a car accident.
By noticing and acknowledging that this is a fear-based emotion—which is likely the result of inconsistent support you received as a child—and going inward instead, you can question this story.
By continuing to question this story repeatedly, you’ll start to go inward and create new neuropathways until, eventually, the worst-case scenario isn’t always where your brain goes.
4) Try somatic processing and get in touch with your needs.
Ask yourself on a regular basis what you’re feeling right now. You can do this by practicing somatic processing or sitting still and paying attention to what you’re feeling in your body. You can follow this up by asking yourself what you need and how you can meet those needs yourself.
If you’re feeling unsupported, your instinct might be to look to someone else, like your romantic partner, for support, but finding a way to support yourself is crucial to overcoming an anxious attachment style and bringing a healthy balance back to your relationship. You can also turn to people outside your relationship to get certain needs met, such as family members or friends.
5) Go through healthy habits for self-connection daily.
Engaging in habits that help you feel truly connected with yourself is an important exercise for overcoming an anxious attachment style. One example might be meditation, so you might carve out 10 minutes a day to meditate.
Other examples could be breathwork or eating healthy, nourishing meals. Regardless of what your specific healthy habit for connection is, the most important thing is that you follow through with them.
You can follow this up by asking yourself self-reflection questions to help you keep committing to yourself. This will help you be in touch with your reality, not the reality of someone else.
6) Be open with your partner about your needs.
Regardless of the attachment style of your partner, they may be confused and frustrated by the behaviors or words that come from having an anxious attachment style. Helping them understand your needs and even your attachment style can help them be more patient and understanding with you.
While having an anxious attachment style can be difficult, there’s quite a bit you can do to reprogram your brain and reparent yourself to become more secure.
How an Anxious Attachment Style Shows Up In Relationships
An anxious attachment style can impact all kinds of relationships, but it can be particularly difficult to navigate in romantic relationships. Someone who is anxiously attached may find themselves calling or texting their partner regularly either to make sure they’re OK or for confirmation that they still love them.
Additionally, their triggers can be exacerbated by other insecure attachment styles. For example, if someone with a dismissive attachment style withdraws, someone with an anxious attachment style may have their fear of abandonment triggered.
Conversely, someone with a dismissive attachment style may feel overwhelmed when their anxiously attached partner seeks validation—this is called the “anxious-avoidant trap.”
Someone with an anxious attachment style may also may become jealous, clingy, co-dependent, and have difficulty setting boundaries with their partner due to fear of rejection. By taking The Personal Development School’s courses and implementing some of the techniques mentioned above, someone with an anxious attachment style can move toward more secure attachment over the course of 90 days.
Share this Article
Let's stay connected!
Get personal development tips, recommendations, and exciting news every week.
Become a Member
An All-Access Pass gives you even more savings as well as all the relationship and emotional support you need for life.
1 FEB 2024
Alone Time in a Relationship
Alone time in a relationship is a common desire for most people.
The misconception is that time away from a partner might be a problem. And yes, too much space — physically or emotionally — can caus...
24 JAN 2024
4 Questions to Ask in the Dating Phase to Tell if Your Relationship Will Last
Just started dating someone new?
Has your next date with them already become the best part of your week? Do you catch yourself jumping at any opportunity to mention them in conversations with your f...
18 JAN 2024
Here’s What the Term ‘Core Wounds’ Actually Means—And How to Heal From Them
At The Personal Development School, one term we use all the time as part of integrated attachment theory is “core wounds.” Essentially, unresolved core wounds, which are the result of complex tr...