Author: Jerri W
If you're reading this you are likely crawling the internet looking for answers on How to self soothe anxious attachment. By acknowledging your anxious attachment, you have already taken the first step towards understanding yourself better and having better relationships with the people you love.
It is not a simple thing to admit, and it can be even more challenging to understand it.
We are certainly not equipped for these things by the education system or by society at large.
In fact, you might have never heard of attachment styles, or even begun to try to understand yourself in this way if it were not for your own curiosity and desire to get to know yourself.
If you are a woman like me, and like most women you are feminine at your core, then you are naturally more inclined to attach anxiously; especially if the target of your attachment is a highly masculine man.
Since the beginning of time, and through all civilizations, our survival as women (and the survival of our offspring) has been dependent on a strong attachment to a man.
While this may not be the extent of the reality today, our basic survival is less dependent on that now, we still evolved and developed as human beings based on this truth. On a basic level we were wired this way.
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Anxious attachment is 1 of 4 primary attachment styles. Defined as people who struggle to feel secure in relationships due to the way they formed attachments in early childhood.
Adults with anxious attachment are prone to being overly dependent on their romantic relationships for validation, intimacy and reassurance.
While these things are normal and healthy needs to have in a relationship, the fears and traumas of the anxiously attached do not allow them to feel emotionally satisfied by their romantic partners, no matter how loving or secure he can be.
Learning how to self soothe anxious attachment is an important and valuable skill to have.
Not only does it allow you to become more emotionally resilient and resourceful within yourself, you’ll then be able to harvest and pour those emotional resources further into yourself and into the people you love.
(Why is this important? It is because your core attachment style largely dictates and influences what happens in your relationship. Thus it’s imperative you understand your core attachment style!)
You might wonder ‘why am I like this?’. I know I do.
It could be that this is how we had love modelled to us by the first people who ever loved us, generally our parents.
It may also have been developed to cope with toxic love, or an inconsistency with love all throughout our lives.
Perhaps it is just that you are a very feminine woman and you have an innate desire for deep connection with a man. That’s a perfectly reasonable and positive thing to want.
While the causes may be unknown, debated and varied, what we do know is that we do not choose our attachment style.
We can however choose to identify it, to learn about it, and to heal ourselves. And to heal, we can start by learning how to self soothe anxious attachment.
Anxious Attachment Style can wreak havoc on our personal lives and relationships.
The emotional and intimate demands can be too restrictive, smothering and overwhelming on a romantic partner.
This can then lead to relationship dissatisfaction and resentment for both partners.
You may constantly feel like your needs are not being met and your partner may feel like a failure for being unable to meet them. This can cause him to pull even further away, triggering even more neediness and desperation from the anxious.
If you can, try to think about it from a masculine perspective:
Why would he show up in a relationship where his efforts are not seen, received or valued?
Where nothing he gives is enough; given that the man you are attached to is of high value, he’s most likely going to pull back on his efforts if he feels like he can't win.
A high value man who doesn’t feel good or like he can win, is not going to be able to show up in the relationship in the way that you need him to, with deep love and commitment.
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To self soothe is to hold space for yourself, get back to your body and to fill up your own emotional resources. Remember what I said earlier about being able to produce and harvest your emotional resources?
These resources are of high value as a woman, we would not be able to authentically connect with men or meet the vast emotional needs of our children without them, and we’ve all seen how that turns out, right? We develop insecure attachment styles!
How can we make the most of our emotional resources when they are being poured into anxiety and fear instead of love and value? We can't.
I know it’s scary when you feel more invested and like the attachment you feel is not reciprocated to the same level, or in exactly the way you would like.
It’s triggering, it's painful and it can make you double down on your thirst and need for love, act out, protest and inadvertently push away the very thing that you want.
On my own journey to discovering secure attachment I have practised and adapted many measures of self-soothing and healing.
What I am going to share with you today are what I have found to be 3 Powerful Ways of Self Soothing Anxious Attachment.
To hold space for others is to show up for them in a way that is of value to them in that moment, to let them be however they need to be, feel however they feel and just exist with them.
To be receptive and present is to hold space, and you are probably very used to doing this for your friends, family, and romantic partners.
To be able to hold space is a gift and one that feminine energy thrives on giving.
What a game changer it is to learn that you can give this gift to yourself. It will feel foreign to begin with because you're not used to being present, patient and kind with yourself, but practice will make perfect.
Some simple but effective ways of practising holding space for yourself are…
Do not suppress your emotions. I have learned this one the hard way more times than I would like to admit.
When we suppress, we allow the thing to fester and grow until it gets too big to contain within ourselves anymore.
As a crude analogy you can imagine it's like holding in gas. It's not possible to keep it in forever, it will inevitably come out, often at the worst possible moment or with the most embarrassing timing.
Give yourself time in a safe space just to feel, preferably alone but a close friend or safe person is okay to have around if you need it.
Allow the pain, the fear and all the emotions to rise in your chest and be released.
Speak, cry, write or listen to meaningful music, whatever you need to do to get through the rawest of those anxious feelings.
Imagine you are somebody that you love, what would you do for them when they are struggling with emotional pain?
For me I would make sure that they are safe, comfortable and have all their basic needs met.
I may run them a bath or try to comfort them with their favorite chocolate, put on a funny film, I would offer them my ear to listen or my shoulder to lean on.
The answers are going to be different for everybody, whatever it is that you do to take care of, and to show love to people, you need to start doing those things for yourself as well.
Rest assured that what you feel is real and valid and remind yourself of this often, recognize that you attach this way for a reason, this all exists to guide you and to help you navigate your life.
The fear of abandonment, the loneliness, the longing and the craving for closeness, you are not flawed for wanting it. For wanting love or for acting out in mourning when love feels lost, remember on a basic level, we were wired to be this way.
Where it goes wrong is when we unknowingly project it onto the people we love, we can do this by seeking validation and approval in destructive or unhealthy ways.
Or by often trying to extract more value from our relationships than what we are pouring into them.
Don’t wait around for someone to come along and make you feel better, you are the only one who is capable of it. Be kind to yourself, tell yourself good things about yourself, allow yourself to enjoy and indulge in things that uplift and inspire you.
After feeling, validating and nurturing yourself, just as if you were somebody that you love, when you feel ready you can get back into your body.
What do I mean by getting back into your body? Much like the concept of ‘grounding’, getting back into your body allows you to be present in the moment and re-focus on the here and the now.
The way to get back into your body is to move it. I am personally averse to exercise for the sake of exercise, but exercise is the exact level of movement that’s going to get you out of your fears and your feelings, and back into your body.
This is probably one of my favorite ways on how to self soothe anxious attachment. I am a terrible dancer, but I love to dance.
Putting on a good tune and rocking my body to it quickly brings me, emotionally speaking, back down to earth.
Working on my house or in my yard is another physical activity that I personally enjoy. Again this is going to be different for everybody but just get your body moving in a way that you enjoy or that is productive for you.
As an anxiously attached person or as a woman who is very feminine in her core, there is great strength and value in the way you can connect with and relate to people.
Self-assurance, confidence and secure attachment are wonderful things to work towards, but they’re not relatable.
Nobody goes searching the internet for answers about why their relationships are so secure. Nobody seeks others to confide in about how good and successful their lives are.
We are all wounded, and we all struggle with love. There is a relatable vulnerability in being able to feel things so deeply and in being capable of attaching strongly to a man.
Consider it as if growing and harvesting your emotional resources is like depositing money into your bank account.
The more you do it, the more money you are going to have. Once you have accumulated a lot, you are rich, you have more freedom and more to fall back on if you’re hit by any setbacks.
While this is true financially it also applies emotionally. If you feel triggered or anxious and you have no inner emotional resources to fall back on, what are you going to do?
We frequently call upon and use our emotional resources on others:
We share our emotional resources with them.
You are likely very emotionally resourceful when it's needed from you by others, but just like holding space, nurturing, being kind and validating, it feels weird and foreign to start giving those things to yourself.
Practice makes perfect, so keep practising self-soothing. Remind yourself that healing is a journey, not a destination.
I hope you enjoyed reading and that you found some value here. If you have time to leave a comment, I would love to hear what other ways that you have found helpful for how to self soothe anxious attachment?
Jerri W is a hospitality manager, hostess, writer and busy mum of 3 from Melbourne, Australia. With a keen interest in femininity, personal development and the psychology of love and relationships, Jerri is passionate about helping women to get to know themselves and enjoy better relationships.
Author For National Council for Research on Women
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