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How to Overcome Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style


Reading time:

6 min


Published on:

Tue Jun 27 2023


Last updated:

Wed Apr 24 2024


Written by:

The Personal Development School

Does the thought of dating give you an anxious knot in the stomach instead of excitement and butterflies? Maybe you need constant reassurance in a relationship, always assuming the worst.

We get it. It’s exhausting to stay glued to your phone, feeling your heart sink a little more for each minute without a reply. If this resonated with you, you might have an anxious preoccupied attachment style (or anxious attachment style for short).

In this article, we’ll cover how to fix an anxious attachment style so you can finally exhale and feel more safe and calm in romantic relationships!

What is an Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style?

The anxious preoccupied attachment style is shaped in childhood.

A person with an anxious preoccupied attachment style often grew up in a household with lots of inconsistency. This inconsistency may have stemmed from parents being unavailable or a lack of consistent emotional connection between the child and their parents.

This uneven balance creates a situation where the parents are not absent enough for the child to become avoidant but not present enough for the child to become secure.

Here are two examples of anxious preoccupied upbringing:

- When parents or a parent works or travels often.

- When parents or parent are inconsistent with their affection.

The parents may be emotionally stable and available when spending time with the child, so the child gets a positive association with their presence.

However, the child perceives the time spent together as not enough and unpredictable. This leads to separation anxiety and a kind of addiction to love. The child experiences the emotional rollercoaster of feeling the presence and love, only to see it suddenly be taken away, not knowing when it will return.

This lack of connection and consistency is why these children develop "anxious" patterns, including fearing being rejected, abandoned, and alone. They always seek to establish security in any relationship.

The inconsistency in their childhood prevented them from adequately experiencing a connection with their parents and learning proper self-soothing techniques.

It leads to developing some pretty intense and deeply-rooted core wounds.


The Core Wounds of the Anxious Preoccupied

Your life (and attachment style) is made up of the beliefs you have about yourself, and if they are negative beliefs, they are known as core wounds.

Your core wounds have a direct impact on your attachment style, patterns, and coping mechanisms.

The two most commonly seen core wounds (also known as attachment wounds) in anxiously attached individuals are: “I am/will be abandoned” and “I am alone”.

If you recognize the signs, you have an anxious attachment style, but not these core wounds; it’s because core wounds are like the soil, and your thoughts and behaviors are the plants sprouting from that soil.

However, if you keep digging deeper into why you feel anxious, you’ll recognize these core wounds as the root causes of your relationship issues and personal problems.

It directly affects what you believe and how you behave in relationships.

How An Anxious Preoccupied Behaves in Relationships

As the child grows up, it develops the anxious attachment style triggers you may recognize.

As an anxiously attached person, you are very sensitive to shifts in the dynamics. When you feel connected, there’s the unconscious expectation that your partner will leave, leading to anxiety. And when you feel distanced from your partner, your main core wound is activated: fear of abandonment. You can thus recognize the anxious attachment style as having constant anxiety, more or less intense.

As an anxious-preoccupied person, you tend to put your partner on a pedestal. You may minimize yourself and your value and glorify your partner. At times, you may even create an identity and sense of self-worth related to your partner: “I am with person x and they are rich/cool/have high social status, so I’m finally worthy.”

If your partner withdraws, you can quickly spiral into anxiety. You can fall into black-or-white thinking and imagine the worst-case scenario.

For example, you text your partner, and an hour goes by without a reply. You start to feel very anxious, take it personally, and go into thoughts like “they are going to leave me”, “they have found someone else”, and so on. It can be challenging to see the situation in a neutral or positive light and think “they probably just ran out of battery”, “they must be on a phone call”, or even “they’re obviously busy preparing a surprise for me!”.

When noticing the (perceived) withdrawal, you may get the urge to “chase” – seek closeness and validation at all costs. You might do things like calling or texting multiple times until they get an answer. You have a constant desire for emotional or physical closeness.

You may also recognize the feeling of losing yourself in relationships. The romantic relationship becomes the center of your life, and you (subconsciously) expect your partner to prioritize it the way you do. If they don’t, you feel abandoned. You may also tend to rush commitment to feel safe, which could push your partner away.

That said, you have a lot of positive sides too!

People with an anxious attachment style have an easy time opening up and being vulnerable. They don’t fear closeness and connection like the styles. So if you are anxiously attached, give yourself a pat on the back for being one of the most loving, attentive, and caring people out there!

In the long run, this becomes exhausting and unhealthy. That’s why knowing how to fix your anxious attachment style is essential.

How to Overcome Your Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style

The good news? It is fully in your power to overcome your anxious preoccupied attachment style and become securely attached!

We’ll share some tips on how to overcome an anxious attachment style:

-- Subconscious reprogramming is a powerful method for healing anxious attachment. Your subconscious is programmed through repetition plus emotion, so by repeating the new beliefs you want to live by, and associating them with positive emotions. (For specific tools and methods adopted to anxiously attached people, see our course Stop Abandonment & Rejection in A Relationship – Anxious Attachment Style Reprogramming).

-- Practice questioning your stories the moment they arise. For example, if your partner or date doesn’t reply, and you feel the anxiety hit, pause and ask yourself: what could be the reason they’re not responding?

Tell yourself the story you’d like to hear: they might be stuck in traffic and unable to text, be in a conversation with someone, or be somewhere without reception. Most importantly: be kind and patient with yourself. Don’t expect a lifetime of limiting beliefs to heal overnight, but gently shift from your old way of thinking every time you notice your stories aren’t conducive.

-- When you feel triggered or anxious, take a moment to sit with your feelings instead of directly turning to other people for support. As intense as they may feel, your emotions can’t physically hurt you. Seeking help can be beautiful, but relying on others at the slightest discomfort can lead to codependency.

-- Learn how to self-soothe. One of the fallouts of having an anxious attachment style is that you don't know how to self-soothe. Learning how to take the time out of yourself can be extremely helpful in controlling and managing your triggers.

It also lets you develop some strong resilience when things go wrong in relationships. You just need to practice self-soothing as much as possible.

Some examples include: Calling a friend or family member to talk, distracting yourself from what's making you anxious, and doing something to prove to yourself that you can meet your own needs.

How to Start Healing Your Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style

We hope you got value from these pieces of advice for anxious attachment style!

Start to apply them in your daily life, and you’ll see changes in how you relate to others.

If you want more support, check our beginner course: Stop Abandonment & Rejection in A Relationship (Anxious Attachment Style Re-Programming).

Consider our Advanced Anxious Attachment Style course if you want to take it up a notch.

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