How to Self-Soothe Anxious Attachment

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How to Self-Soothe Anxious Attachment

Are you anxiously attached? If so, mastering emotional self-regulation is a pivotal skill for personal growth and healthy relationships, particularly if you’re interested in achieving “earned secure attachment.” 

As a couples counselor and an individual therapist specializing in helping people work through relationship issues, including insecure attachment, I know that learning how to self-soothe anxious attachment is transformative. It allows you to have healthy relationships, heal the wounds of the past, and feel more secure in yourself, whether you’re partnered or single. It allows you to create some space between your feelings and your reactions, and that little space is where the magic of growth happens. 

Let’s explore the how to self-soothe anxious attachment, and how you can create the secure, loving relationships you deserve: 

What Is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage our emotional states and the behaviors that we use to respond to these emotions, ensuring they are in alignment with our goals — like having a good relationship, for example. This is an essential emotional intelligence skill for maintaining relationships, resolving conflicts, and for your own self-concept and self-esteem.

But self-regulating can be easier said than done for people with anxious attachment styles. When you’re genuinely terrified that you will be rejected or abandoned, you can’t just override your programming by “playing it cool.” 

Playing it cool is NOT what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about showing up authentically in your relationships, anxiety and all, with the skills in tow to manage your anxious triggers internally. That way, you don’t have to outsource the job to your partner and potentially sabotage your relationship in the process. This is the true path to creating the deep love and connection you crave — and it’s a major step along your own personal growth journey as well. 

So let’s dig in!

Anxious Attachment and Self-Regulation

Our capacity for emotional regulation is profoundly influenced by our attachment style, which is forged through our early relationships with caregivers. These experiences shape how we perceive emotional intimacy and connection throughout our lives, especially in our romantic relationships. Recognizing how anxious attachment influences your ability to self-regulate emotionally can help you make strategic changes that transform the way you feel in relationships.

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Secure Attachment and Emotional Regulation

To start, let’s explore how securely attached people self-regulate. People with secure attachment styles generally exhibit a remarkable ability to manage emotional upheavals. 

Basically, securely attached people have the internal resources to work through their difficult feelings while keeping their relationships healthy and strong. This skill has all kinds of benefits, including:  

You can imagine how being wired this way makes it easier for our securely attached friends to have healthy relationships. 

Characteristics of Anxious Attachment in Adults

For adults with an anxious attachment style, self-regulation is more challenging. They feel acutely sensitive to the dynamics of their relationships, and small shifts can set off a tidal wave of feelings that are genuinely overwhelming (related: learn about “emotional flooding” in relationships). Anxiously attached people harbor a deep-seated fear of rejection and abandonment, which can lead them to perceive threats to their relationships more intensely and to react accordingly. 

This heightened vigilance can show up in many different ways, including: 

  • An overwhelming desire for closeness that feels clingy to their partners. 
  • Jealousy
  • Demanding a lot of reassurance. 
  • Having big emotional reactions to moments of disconnection or conflict. 
  • Feeling the need to preserve a relationship at all costs, even toxic relationships.
  • Pushing their partner away to “test” their commitment, and more. 

Making matters more complicated, anxiously attached people are often attracted to avoidantly attached partners, who require a lot of space in relationships and feel uncomfortable around a partner’s emotional displays. All of this makes the anxious partner feel… incredibly anxious. 

As the anxious partner reacts to the avoidant partner and vice versa, these anxious-avoidant relationships often fall into a push-and-pull dance that’s painful and unhealthy for both partners. Breaking the cycle and creating a more secure dynamic requires intervention from a good couples counselor who uses an attachment lens. 

People usually develop an anxious attachment style because of experiences with caregivers who were inconsistent in their emotional availability and responsiveness. This inconsistency can sow seeds of confusion and anxiety in children about the reliability of emotional support in their closest relationships, setting the stage for anxious patterns of attachment in adulthood. 

Learning how to address the anxiety internally, rather than acting it out with a partner, helps you fundamentally shift your relationship dynamics and effectively become more securely attached.

How to Self-Soothe Anxious Attachment

So, how can you self-soothe anxious attachment? It requires a toolbox of skills for emotional regulation, and the wisdom to know when and how to deploy them. 

Here are a few tools that many of my anxiously attached clients find helpful: 

1. Identifying Emotional Triggers

To self-soothe anxious attachment, you first have to recognize the specific triggers that elicit strong emotional responses from you. These triggers might include perceived indifference from your partner, inconsistency, moments when it seems your partner is pulling away, and/or fears of abandonment. When you recognize the trigger, then you have more agency to choose how you’ll manage your reaction to it. 

2. Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness acts as a powerful tool for creating a buffer between emotional triggers and our reactions. By fostering an awareness of the present moment, especially how you feel inside your body, improving mindfulness helps you pause and reflect before responding impulsively to anxious attachment triggers. 

Here are a few mindfulness exercises for you to practice: 

  • Focusing on your breath for sixty seconds. 
  • Paying close attention to where you feel your emotions in your body. 
  • Tuning into your senses, like what you can see, touch, smell, and hear. 

All of these practices can significantly reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions and promote a sense of calm and clarity.

3. Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing means identifying and challenging negative thought patterns that are fueling anxious responses. This can be a powerful tool, because your attachment style profoundly impacts your ‘social cognitive appraisals,’ or the way that you interpret benign situations in relationships.

For example, if your partner doesn’t return your call for an hour and you’re feeling anxious about it, you might think “They are sick of dealing with me and we’re probably going to break up.” You can challenge that anxious thought by thinking, “They might be busy or stressed out about something. It isn’t necessarily about me. I’ll check in with them later and see how they’re doing. Then I’ll have more information to judge if anything is wrong.” 

By considering alternative interpretations and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, you can begin to shift your perspective and react from a more secure place, rather than from anxiety.

4. Managing Anger Constructively

Effectively managing anger is crucial to self-soothe anxious attachment. Whether you tend to lash out, or you stuff your anger down and weaponize it against yourself, it’s important to get anger under control and learn to manage it constructively. Expressing the vulnerable feelings that are underneath your anger not only helps you feel better, it helps you grow closer to your partner, rather than pushing them away.

5. Getting Support

Working with a therapist or couples counselor who specializes in attachment can be a game changer. 

The therapists at Growing Self offer tailored strategies for addressing the specific needs of people with anxious attachment, including the emotional regulation skills that allow you to self-soothe anxious attachment and maintain healthy relationships. Our experts help you identify your triggers, develop healthy coping mechanisms, alleviate the underlying fears of abandonment and rejection, and form more secure connections. 

If you are interested in doing this valuable work with an attachment focused therapist or couples counselor on my team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation

With love, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby 

P.S. — For more articles and podcasts episodes on attachment topics, check out my “healthy relationships” content collection. It’s all there for you!

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast

  •  00:00 What Is Attachment Theory?
  • 08:19 Thais’ Background and Interest in Attachment Theory
  • 16:21 Understanding Attachment Styles
  • 28:15 Stop Pathologizing Attachment Styles
  • 33:51 How Attachment Styles Impact Relationships
  • 39:11 Healing Attachment Wounds

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Music in this episode is by Dawn Robin, with their cover of the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” You can support them and their work by visiting their Bandcamp page here: Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to if further questions are prompted.

Lisa Marie Bobby: Do you fear abandonment or often feel worried about your relationships? Like you need a lot of reassurance from your partner telling you that everything is okay, I love you, but like a lot? Um, if so, then you, my friend, could have an anxious attachment style. And on today’s episode of the love, happiness, and success podcast, we are talking about that and specifically how you can learn how to self soothe anxious attachment and self reliance.

Develop more secure connections. And my guest for this important conversation is Thais Gibson. She’s a leading voice in attachment theory and the founder of the personal development school. Thais is a counselor, psychologist, Speaker, YouTuber, and author of learning love, build the best relationships of your life, your life, using integrated attachment theory.

And today she’s here to share her expertise with you. Welcome Thais. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here with you. Yeah, me too. Because, um,  this is such an important conversation, you know, attachment styles can often be this invisible force at work in people’s relationships. And sometimes they don’t even realize the power that that can have.

So I’m just thrilled to be exploring this topic with you on today’s podcast. Um, And just to begin, because I’m always just so curious about the people that I speak with on the show. Let’s talk a little bit about you and your background, but like how you got interested in this  specialty. What’s the story there?

Yeah, I think there’s sort of a twofold story there. I mean, the, the first. Part is I definitely saw a lot of chaos growing up in my own childhood. So, so a really intense divorce dragged out for a very long time. A lot of sort of fighting and arguing. And I think I was sort of put, it was like the parentified child.

I was definitely put in the middle a lot from a young age. So I think like the downside is that that’s difficult, but the upside of that was that I had like a really burning curiosity from a young age about relationships and about connection and about how people who love each other can. Become so dysfunctional or sort of the worst versions of themselves because of what, like, I really didn’t understand that.

And so from a very young age, I was really curious. And, um, I think I really sponged up a lot. I was a very sensitive child and sort of internalized a lot of that stuff. And I had an outlet, which was to play soccer. And that was sort of my thing as a child. And I was going to get a soccer scholarship and then.

And this my scouting year, I actually, um, had to have knee surgery. I had a really intense knee injury. And um, after surgery I got immediately addicted to opiates. Like just, it was as if, like, I knew from like that first experience that it sort of felt like everything in my life just got easier. Like, Oh, I’m good.

All my emotions are toned down. My home is easier to deal with. Like it just felt like everything was tolerable all of a sudden. And so that actually sparked like about a six year journey of a lot of treachery, I would say. Um, and really going through a lot of different sort of challenges and dynamics.

And it was, that became sort of like an internal battle with myself where I would constantly tell myself, like, I’m going to get clean. I’m going to get I’m going to delete people’s numbers from my phone that I’m getting this stuff from. I am going to, you know, and all the, the intentions in the world of going down a different path. 

And yet I found myself just running into the same problems day in and day out and feeling like so helpless in the relationship to myself.  So I did get a soccer scholarship. I went off to school. I I’m sure from the outside, it looked like I was doing well in life from the inside. My life was like a mess, like just absolute chaos.

And.  And, um, I was in a psych class, so I went to school for psychology and I was in a class and I had somebody say to me, Oh, your conscious mind can’t outwill or overpower your subconscious mind.  And for me, I was like, Oh my goodness, this is my daily experience of my, it must be my conscious mind going, I’m going to get clean.

I’m going to avoid these people. I’m going to do all these things differently. And then my subconscious mind has a different set of plans. So I got really obsessed with learning about the subconscious mind and about learning the Like what is going on there for me as an individual that’s causing me to go down this path when I don’t intend to consciously.

And what I realized is there was a lot of unprocessed pain and that painkillers were obviously very easy to sort of numb, not just physical pain, but also emotional pain and make life feel more tolerable and easier. So I realized like, okay, trying to control an addiction is like trying to sort of scrape the surface of things when really I need to get down to the root.

And so, um, I ended up doing like a year long hypnotherapy program. Along with being in school and really going down like I did NLP. I did a whole bunch of certifications and everything I could get my hands on. And that was really helpful for me. That like transformed my life, my journey. I felt like I really healed from the inside out and went back with like a lot of tools into my world to, to.

Not just be sober, but to like, I feel like I was in a really good space. So I started sort of like shouting that from the rooftops. Like I just started giving free workshops. Cause I was like, Oh my goodness, everybody needs to know about the subconscious mind. Nobody’s talking about it enough. And this is like 14 years ago now.

Right. So this is, you know, way back before it was more mainstream. Like it has become more so now. Um, and. And that just sort of kicked off a journey into private practice. And then funnily enough, and not to go on for too long here, but no, it’s great. What ended up happening after that is a lot of the work I did on myself had to do with like reprogramming core wounds.

So these ideas that we acquire about ourselves because of the repeated experiences we have. So things like I will be betrayed. I can’t trust anybody. I will be abandoned. I’m not good enough. I’m unworthy. You know, all these ideas and concepts that we tend to take in from our childhood experiences, And then, um, I doing a lot of reprogramming that shifted the way I would speak to myself and my internal dialogue.

And then I did a lot of work around like my needs, a lot of work around emotional regulation, my nervous system being regulated, um, and did a lot of work as well in like communication and boundaries. And so those were like the big focus areas I started working on. With clients when I started my practice.

And then I circled back to attachment theory after being in client practice for a couple of years and found that these exact things fit very neatly into each attachment style. And there was so much information about attachment styles, but not about how to change them and not about how to recondition them to become secure.

And obviously you’re not born with an attachment style. It’s conditioned into you. Well, we can leverage how to recondition the subconscious mind and rewire things to change so that we can become more securely attached. So that as soon as I found that I was like, wow. And, and, um, really went down the rabbit hole and did a ton of work with clients on that specifically for about eight years after that.

Um, and that’s sort of what led to the work that I’ve been today.  Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really appreciate that. And I love the, the personal, not just connection, but really insight that you have into this work and, and having walked through this journey yourself. I mean, really, um,  having empathy for the experience, uh, just the way that you talk about it so powerfully.

I mean, that’s really apparent. So thank you. Wow. What a wonderful example of how going through something so hard really, um, comes with its own gifts. Sometimes in the end, you’ve, you’ve done something amazing with it. Wow. so much.  And also what, you know, a hopeful message, because I think that sometimes  Um, and especially, you know, certainly if you dig into some of the, the psychology research around attachment styles, they can be presented like they are such enduring things.

Like if, if things weren’t optimal, you know, by your early childhood, by the time you’re five years old, your life is basically ruined. And if you haven’t had, you know, some of these like critically. You know, secure attachment shaping experiences. I think that that can be sometimes the old school message around this, but what I’m hearing you say, and certainly what I’ve experienced as well in my own practice is that we can actually do really powerful work around attachment styles and healing them, um, helping yourself shift from an anxious or avoidant place on that spectrum to a more middle ground where it’s.

Things feel more secure, more emotionally safe. You can be more confident in, you know, your ability to love and be loved. Um, but it is a journey. I mean, that doesn’t just happen, right?  So  to unpack this a little bit more, you know, maybe we could start here. Um, because Certainly, there are different dimensions of attachment.

There can be an anxious attachment style, certainly avoidant. You can have a mixed bag, which can be even more interesting. But I think sometimes people with a more anxious attachment style  have a more awareness of it. I mean, it’s sort of more present for them. feel very worried. They’re thinking a lot about their relationships and if they’re safe with their partner, how they’re  cared for by their partner, right?

There’s like this hyper vigilance around it. And so I’m wondering if we could just begin there and help us like dig in to understand where this anxiety comes from, where it stems from. Yes, for sure. Can you speak to that? Yeah. Absolutely. So I think one of the first things to note is that we have to ask ourselves the question of like, how do we get conditioned?

How do we really develop these attachment styles? And so when we look at like the differences between the conscious and subconscious and even unconscious mind, we sort of like remove the unconscious mind from the discussion because the unconscious usually is sort of the holder of memories that aren’t retrievable from a conscious mind state. 

From a subconscious mind space. We are able to retrieve different experiences. So for example, if you look back and think, Oh, when I was five years old, I had this experience. These Children, they gave me a hard time on the playground. How did I feel? I felt not good enough. I felt disliked. We can actually retrieve that stored information.

The unconscious mind is sort of the depths of that where it’s really difficult to actually gain that information from. So When we really look into exploring the subconscious mind, what you’ll see is the subconscious mind gets programmed or conditioned through repetition and emotion. And whatever we’re repeatedly exposed to is going to fire and wire neural pathways that are going to basically leave us with specific programs in terms of how we see ourselves, the world, or what we tend to expect in relationships.

And I like to think of our attachment style as sort of an analogy as the subconscious set of rules we have for love. And if you imagine as an analogy that you were to sit down and play a board game and we have different rules for how to play the board game because you have the rules for monopoly and I have the rules for scrabble.

It’s not that much different than like having a different attachment style from somebody and having different subconscious rules and expectations and needs in terms of what you expect from love. And so there can be a lot of confusion and frustration, but we have to actually dial in and ask ourselves, well, how can we get to the bottom of those?

Programs. What are those programs? How do they exist? So when you look at the anxious attachment style, for example, the anxious attachment styles, main theme in their programming is about real or perceived abandonment. So a really obvious example would be there’s a divorce. One parent leaves the household.

Doesn’t really come back much becomes more of an absentee parent from that child’s life. And of course, there’s this deep feeling of abandonment that really deeply imprints the subconscious mind with that loss, that sort of morning. But there are other variations of this that can also create anxious attachment style.

So there can be, for example,  A dynamic where parents are very warm and loving. So there’s good associations built into connection, but those parents are working all the time, for example. So maybe those parents are constantly gone on work trips. Children are left with the grandparents. So what’s happening is there’s this conditioning, this repetition and emotion or firing and wiring of love being there, love being taken away of being there, love being taken away.

And that perceived abandonment over time creates a lot of these different core wounds about, I will be abandoned. I will be alone. Is it me? Am I not good enough? Feeling very unsafe without the caregiver. Um, and this child struggles to learn to self soothe. So they basically grew up hyper relying on their external relationships as a means of self soothing.

And because they’re so externally focused on other people, it also prevents them from really getting to individuate as an adult, really develop a strong sense of self and identity in terms of who they are because they’re so others focused. And so we’ll generally see some other wounds in there. Are this deep fear of rejection.

This deep fear of being excluded is a huge core wound, a lot of sensitivity to being disliked. Um, and so this child will grow up to basically shape their identity and relationships to avoid all of those things, right? Let me just hold on tighter. Let me be really charming and charismatic and do everything I can do to avoid rejection or abandonment.

But in doing that, the sort of primary casualty in a sense becomes the relationship they have to themselves.  And so the anxious attachment style, obviously, as an adult becomes the needy and the clingy one in relationships. And they become so sensitive and afraid. And as you were mentioning earlier, quite hyper vigilant to this concept of, is somebody pulling away?

Could I be abandoned at any time? And so that’s sort of like the anxious attachment style. And then funnily enough, if you swing to the far end of the other continuum. We have our dismissive avoidance  and our dismissive avoidant attachment style basically grows up with consistent neglect. Sometimes some enmeshment is in there as well, but the overarching theme is neglect because even within enmeshment, um, there’s still this really strong messaging of neglect, right?

If the child is enmeshed focusing on the caregiver, there’s no room for that child sense of being sued or having their needs met individually. And so the dismissive avoidant,  funnily enough as well, it can be this really overt neglect where it’s like, um, The parents never there. Maybe the parents really unstable.

But the vast majority of the time, it’s very covert neglect. It’s very quiet neglect. It’s like sense of stability, foods on the table, everything’s structured. But if there’s any sort of emotion, then what ends up taking place is that that received shame.  Children should be seen and not heard, or don’t be a crybaby, or they get this constant messaging that that part of themselves is weak, is shameful, and is unworthy of being connected to.

And so they reject that part of themselves because they are conditioned that way. And as an adult, when they get into relationships with other people, particularly often anxious attachment styles, they tend to be afraid of commitment, afraid of getting too close, afraid of being seen too deeply, afraid of being criticized for what they’re doing.

That emotional part of themselves. So they will avoid attaching too deeply. They will, um, really avoid commitment or vulnerability because they’re actually trying to avoid their childhood wounding. If that makes sense.  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you very much for kind of going into it and really explaining the psychology behind it.

Um, what it does to people, but also where it actually comes from. And I really appreciate that because I think that, um,  For both sides of the coin, it can be very easy to look at somebody’s behavior in these moments, like see the way that they’re showing up in relationships. Maybe they are being clingy or demanding, right?

Or maybe they are being avoided to noncommittal. And, you know, we can Create stories about their character and you know what that means about them. But I think really when you put it into context of the life experiences in which this was formed, I think it can be much more, um, compassionate and conducive to building a relationship.

Right?  Absolutely. Yeah. And I didn’t touch on the other one. So you mentioned too, like that there’s the anxious attachment style and sometimes that’s so loud. Absolutely. Right. Then that’s so obvious to people when they feel anxiously attached because you feel so much emotion, whereas like your dismissive avoidance tend to be more repressive of their emotions.

They tend to sort of numb everything out. And so that’s not as obvious to people, right? That’s not as clear. Cause they’re not feeling all that reaction in their nervous system, but there’s an attachment cell that in a sense. It’s sort of in the middle of the continuum and it’s called the fearful avoidant or often referred to as a disorganized attachment style.

And for them, they actually get both sides of the attachment continuum. So they get the really anxious side and the really avoidant side. And part of what happens is, and this is actually my experience. So I was a fearful avoidant. But. Um, you get really conflicting ideas about love and connection. You know, if there’s a lot of chaos, if there’s a lot of fighting, that’s, that can be a really terrifying thing to grow up around.

But also there’s some really nice moments about love and connection. So we also have the fearful avoidant attachment style or disorganized attachment cell who doesn’t form a normalized or consistent attachment strategy around love because, you know, if, if they grow up. A really obvious example would also be if somebody had a parent who was an alcoholic, like one day mom comes home and she’s drinking.

She’s in a great mood. She’s so nice. Another day, mom comes home and she’s drinking and she’s angry. Another day, mom sobering up and she feels guilty. So she’s being kind. Another day she’s sobering up and she’s going through withdrawals and she’s having a really hard time. And so you could get these constant, like you never know what you’re going to get.

And so basically the main attachment strategy for the fearful avoidant becomes extreme hyper vigilance. So really noticing every little thing, every little nuance all the time, anxious preoccupied stuff that too, but more specific to abandonment, fearful, wouldn’t have it about everything. They tend to be a little bit more suspicious and they want love, but they’re afraid of it at the same time.

So they sort of have this dynamic as adults where they’re the very hot and cold partner. They’re like, Oh, Come get close, come get close. You get closer, like get back, stay away. Right. They have these fears of abandonment, but they also have these fears like dismissive avoidance to being trapped, of being in the wrong relationship and of being helpless and of being seen too deeply and being too vulnerable.

Um, because there’s some painful experiences there. So you’ll see that those are sort of the three insecure attachment styles. And then of course, the last attachment styles, the securely attached style, who statistically gets, you know, does the best in relationships has the most thriving and, um, long lasting relationships.

And also, um, it’s a lot of healthy modeling in terms of trust, reliability, vulnerability, confidence, and feelings of self worth. And there’s a much greater absence of core wounds for the securely attached style. Yeah, definitely.  Well, you know, and I, I have a number of other things I’d like to talk about related to this because, you know, when there are.

pronounced, um, I think attachment wounds that do create some of the, uh, ways of relating that we’ve been talking about. So either the anxious or avoidant or, um, the, uh, kind of that disorganized attachment, it really can create significant problems. in relationships, but also, I mean, to your point in the beginning, one’s relationship with oneself, I think, can become very distressed.

And so it’s, it’s a difficult life experience, both internally and with other people when those real, uh, you know, attachment styles are present. But something that I’ve just been increasingly aware of over the last, probably few years in particular, is that  On the one hand, I think it’s really good that there’s just more in the air about attachment styles and what they are and how they can impact people because, um, just that awareness I think allows for reflection and, you know, being aware of something gives you the opportunity to heal and grow and work on it, which is all for the good. 

And it’s also true that there, most people are, you know, like if you think of the bell curve, somewhere in that securely attached range and that Everybody has, you know, a variety of life experiences that can shape their personalities and their expectations around people and, you know, whose, whose family life was like perfectly perfect.

Right. And so we can all slant a little bit one way or the other, but, but still fundamentally have a secure attachment style that is not nearly as extreme as like some of the things that you presented and what we’ll be talking about today. Um, and so I guess I’m wondering, you know, what you think of,  I don’t know the, the, the risk of people, um,  interpreting their relationships or their own life experience through, through this more pathological lens of like, no, I have a, uh, anxious, Attachment style or even  weaponizing it with their partner, right?

Labeling their partner’s  way of relating to them as being, you know, related to an attachment style. When the other thing that’s true is that in every relationship, there can be relational dynamics at work. I mean, pursue, withdraw relational dynamics are  Simply what happens in every relationship where there’s some distress or conflict happening.

And so I guess I’m wondering what your thoughts are about this and how you kind of parse it out in a way to be most, most helpful for people, just to help them understand like what they’re really experiencing so that we can address things that need to be addressed without, um, pathologizing yourself or a partner in a way that could actually be unhelpful. 

Does that make sense to you? Yeah, absolutely. What are your thoughts here?  So the way I would work with it in client practice back when I was seeing a lot of clients for years, is the first thing I would be looking for is like not just those sort of pursue withdrawal relationship dynamics.  In an argument in particular or a specific conflict, there was a dynamic like that happening, but more so if those were somebody’s personality characteristics, if they were, you know, for example, as a dismissive avoidant, very slow to warm up, really struggled to express emotion, which shut down around anything vulnerable, had a lot of core wounds and sensitivities to conflict.

Vulnerability feeling weak. If they were in that space, like I would be first trying to separate out. Is this this person’s personality? Is this how they show up in, in throughout their history of relationships quite often? Is this how they’re often, um, the role that they’re always in, in a conflict, you know?

So, so we’re first separating, like, is there just a one off or a few conflicts where these sorts of dynamics happen? Or is this this person’s like state of being, is this how they’re often showing up? And then in that case, I find that the understanding. Standing of different attachment styles can be very beneficial first, because it can help us depersonalize things.

Like if you get into a position where somebody is going, Oh my gosh, my partner doesn’t love me. Like one, one example that I would see all the time is an anxious attachment style might be in a relationship with a dismissive avoidant, they get into the power struggle stage of a relationship about a year and a half in.

And all of a sudden the dismissive avoidance just naturally withdrawing more because that’s when vulnerability and attachment is so strong. And all of a sudden the anxious person’s like feeling like they don’t love me at all. They want to leave the relationship right now. They see the patterns change and they’re assigning all of this meaning to that.

According to their worst case scenario, fears and core wounds. And when we actually understand, no, no, no, that person, like they want to maintain their identity. It’s not about them not loving you. It’s about them having different needs than you because their attachment style is different and their programming is different.

So there’s this huge benefit to that where all of a sudden  That person’s able to not take on their partner’s behaviors as being so personal. They can have more empathy and compassion for their partner because they understand where that’s coming from, what that really is. And now there can be better communication fostered in the relationship.

We can meet each other’s needs, realizing that we don’t always have the same needs in a relationship and we can respect each other’s boundaries and domains differently. So that’s really powerful, but the downside and the thing I would always sort of be on high alert about is if I saw clients, like you said, weaponizing the attachment style and kind of like throwing it at the other person, like you’re this way, you’re that, because you’re putting somebody in a box, right?

Your attachment style is just a condition set of rules. Like it’s, it’s very able to change. And obviously like. All the work that I basically did in practice for the last eight years that I was in practice was, um, to help people recondition their attachment style and become more securely attached in their relationships together.

So, you know, you’d be mindful that, okay, you have this sort of like, quote unquote label to give you context and insight, but it’s not this like pathology where you have this forever. This is your, your experience. Right. Um, and then what I would be looking forward to is, are we using our attachment style to  avoid responsibility, avoid accountability?

Are we saying, I’m the anxious one. I need to call me back all the time immediately because I’m anxiously attached or are we working on, you know what? I can rely on my partner. I can communicate my needs to my partner, but also I need to heal that relationship to myself where I grow those skills to self soothe so that in those times my partner is not available, I’m okay.

And so as long as we weren’t using that as like the only approach. Yeah. And we were saying, this is my attachment style. I now understand myself and I’m not willing to try to change. I’m not willing to try to adapt or heal or grow, and I’m not blaming my partner’s actions on their attachment style. Then we could see instead that we could use understanding of our attachment style, sort of as this roadmap  to better understanding our needs, better understanding what specifically needs to be healed, whether it’s core wounds.

Or the relationship we have to our boundaries or how we regulate our nervous system. Um, so we can use that as a roadmap, but that work really has to be done. And I would tell people listing to please avoid as much as you can. Just thinking that your attachment style is a result and an outcome that you are now, you know, sort of subscribe to for the rest of your life, because a lot of those things can be reconditioned.

I love that.  That’s very helpful though, to, to really be able to tell what, okay, what is this, right? And if it is a lifelong pattern, it is stable, it shows up in all kinds of different relationships. And also, if there is a life history that, that matches that, those are, you know, pieces of the puzzle to suggest, okay, maybe there is an attachment flavor here that I have to deal with it.

But I love your message of personal respect. Responsibility, which is digging in, doing the work, healing your wounds and figuring out how to manage your emotions and your thoughts and your behaviors differently, um,  because that’s the path forward. And if we don’t have the opportunity to do that intentionally, it can create real problems in relationships, you know, and, and so I’m wondering if you could say a little bit more about that.

I mean, If it’s somebody who has really an anxious attachment style, they have the life history that supports that, you know, they were, they did not get their needs met. They, um, you know, ingrained messages about worth and lovability and being very externally focused and having difficulty self soothing.

And now they are 28 and they’re going into a relationship. What happens?  Yeah, and do you mean what happens like what will it look like for them or do you mean what can we do about it? What how does it impact the relationship? So yeah, I mean somebody with an anxious attachment tendencies partners with somebody who is you know Maybe it’s in that middle of the road secure attachment style  What happens next? 

So, so one of the first things that you’ll generally see is if somebody’s attachment cell isn’t worked on or healed, and if they truly are anxiously attached, the first thing that’s really painful for anxiously attached individuals is they’ll jump to those conclusions based on their previous experience.

experiences. So that’s really like for, for an impolite word is that’s our baggage, right? Like that’s the stuff that we’ve been ingrained to experience through repetition and emotion. And now this has become part of our identity. So for example, if you perceived abandonment all the time, you’re like, I will be abandoned.

I am alone. I must not be good enough. And so the moment that we see a shift in a pattern, our minds almost. always jumping to those worst case conclusions, right? They didn’t text me back. It’s not that they’re busy or overwhelmed today or that they’re a forgetful person or that they love me, but they’re just tied up with something.

We’re not reaching these secure conclusions in terms of the meaning we assigned to situations. We’re reaching our own unresolved. Worst case scenario fears. And that’s what our subconscious mind will project on the situation. So we’ll go, Oh my goodness, I’m about to be abandoned. Oh my goodness, I’m unloved.

Um, and so those will be the conclusions we reach. And that’s why the first part of attachment style healing has to be reconditioning these stories that we’re carrying. And maybe we can talk about how to do that in a moment, but that’s such an important part is to actually reprogram those core wounds.

Like you’re not born with those wounds. They got conditioned into you. We can leverage, um, Principles of neuroplasticity and subconscious reconditioning in order to change the way that we are perceiving ourselves and other people. So that’s a really important first step. Another thing is we have to be able to recognize that, you know, often as an anxious attachment style,  anxiously attached individuals often think that they’re being very vulnerable.

And in, in many senses, they are. Um,  But they still have a mask on in their relationships. Like they’re not truly being vulnerable because they’re never really telling people directly. This is what I need. They’re usually on their best behavior. They’re people pleasing. As soon as you’re people pleasing anybody, the mask is on, right?

As soon as you’re people pleasing anybody, you’re not being authentic. There’s this element that’s hidden within that. You know, image of vulnerability that they’re presenting. There’s this element of like, I’m actually not that emotionally available because I’m not telling you truly what I need or how I feel or what my boundaries are.

And so there has to be a lot of work done on an anxiously attached individual taking time to introspect within themselves for long enough to actually establish what are my needs. And then how can I actually practice, um, Communicating my needs, communicating when a need is not met, communicating a boundary.

Um, and those are huge components of healing anxiously attached styles and anxious attachment cells get so afraid to do that when they first start the work. Cause they’re like, Oh my goodness, if I set a boundary or share a need, I’ll be a burden or then I’ll be rejected. Or if I’m not constantly people pleasing, you know, I won’t be earning my worth.

And the reality is people are much more attracted to in general, people who are expressing themselves, people who are showcasing their personality or setting their boundaries. You know, it’s a big part of subconsciously, um, how attraction is driven between other people. So, which is sort of its own topic of conversation, but, but, um, we’ll often see that anxiously attached styles when they start to express their boundaries, express their needs and recondition those core wounds early, does that help to regulate their nervous system and feel more calm and less panicked.

And then present as, as less clingy in their relationships, which ultimately can sometimes drive people away, unfortunately. But it allows them to really develop that sense of self, become more secure as a result, and then not be moving from a space of fear in their relationship so frequently. Yeah, definitely.

Now just to feel safer from within, um, creates that less dependence on the relationship itself to be able to manage that for them. That makes a lot of sense. Um, And I also, you know, love what you’re saying again around  that you need to be aware of this and to do the work. Um, because just to run with how you’re feeling in these moments, leads it to turn into something that can be quite destructive to a relationship and create that, like, you know, the, the catastrophic outcome that you’re fearing becoming like a self fulfilling prophecy.

Right. And so, um, you know, I, I would was, I’m wondering if you could share with the caveat that this is a long game. I mean, particularly with attachment wounds, this isn’t the kind of thing that you snap your fingers and like, Oh, I’m different now. Like there, there is definitely a process of healing  and you know, for, for listeners who are like, Oh, it kind of sounds like me.

What are some strategies for, um.  Even mindsets you could share that could offer just some of that, a beginning, a beginning to manage some of the feelings, some of the thoughts, some of the fears related to abandonment. Um, anything that you could share.  Yes.  I’ll try to not go on for too long because there’s a lot.

Oh, I know. And just to manage everybody’s expectations, like this is a process, or as I say in Canada, a process. Sorry, I had to. This is so adorable. Okay, go ahead.  So funny, I didn’t even realize that was a Canadian thing. It’s such a Canadian thing.  So, so there’s four main focus areas always, um, first area, core wound reprogramming.

And I’ll talk about just the one tool that we use for that. Second area, learn your needs and actually be able to practice expressing them to others. Third area, regulate your nervous system that can be done through things like this. Breath work, meditation, somatic work, just like little daily habits, honestly, that can help us get out of fight and flight and more into parasympathetic or rest and digest mode, which will really help us from prevent us from jumping to conclusions and sort of feeling as panicked.

Um, and then last but not least, after you’ve done the core wounds, the needs, the emotional regulation, we have to learn our personal boundaries are our actual domain. And it’s a big part of like individuation and developing a stronger sense of self and identity. Um, if somebody is anxiously attached and so. 

Those are big focus areas, but they can really be dialed down. Like if you do a daily meditation habit for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening, that’s going to impact your nervous system regulation. And that’s a very bite sized thing. That’s easy to apply. Um, learning your needs can be done through a little bit of. 

And then a little bit of practicing over time, some exposure on communicating them to people you love. Um, and then learning your boundaries can also go pretty much hand in hand with that needs work. Cause you start to learn, okay, well this doesn’t feel good for me when somebody does this and I have to be able to communicate what I need instead.

So those are actually like not too difficult. Huge of processes. It just takes that sort of introspection and that actual application of those things. The core wound reprogramming, I think, you know, when, when things are so close to us, when they become a part of our identity for so long. So this idea that I will always be abandoned or this idea that I’m not good enough.

And so I have to constantly overcompensate for that in my relationships.  What we can understand is that the subconscious mind of any, if anybody’s ever heard the, the, um, The saying it takes 21 days to to break a habit or to make a new habit. Well, it’s actually because neuroscience shows us that it takes about 21 days to fire and wire a new neural networks that are strong enough that they’re very likely to stick around for us.

And neural pathways are sort of like muscles. They atrophy over time. So if you don’t work out your bicep for, for, you know, a period of time, your muscle starts to atrophy, right? It starts to sort of go away. And obviously neural networks, they, they sort of follow that same kind of dynamic. So.  If we have an idea, if we have this core wound, okay, that, um, I am not good enough.

We’ll, we’ll say for an anxious attachment style,  usually what’s happened is because that’s there. We’ve told that story on and off every day in different forms, our whole life, right? I’m not interesting enough. I’m not funny enough. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not smart enough. Um, You fill in the blanks.

It’s probably been actually a part of your internal dialogue and the relationship to yourself if you’re carrying that core wound. And so it really determines like you have to think when we are believing those things and thinking those thoughts, how do we feel? We feel insecure and we don’t feel good about ourselves.

So if we want to target root cause, we want to target the belief system itself because by pulling out that belief, it’s sort of like pulling out the weed at its root and the thought patterns will stop being there. So, so, you know, often in our daily lives. So  then we ask ourselves, well, how do I reprogram a core wound?

Where does it exist? Well, it does not exist in your conscious mind because there’s no part of a person that’s going,  it is Tuesday morning and I am going to spend the day telling myself how I’m not good enough today. Right? Like nobody’s choosing that consciously. It is a subconscious program. So that’s part of why I don’t like affirmations that much is because affirmations are speaking language.

Okay. The conscious mind speaks language. The subconscious mind’s language is emotion and imagery. So if I were to say to you, Lisa, whatever you do, don’t think of the pink elephant. Right. You know, your conscious mind here is the do not, but your subconscious mind probably pictured a pink elephant. Like I, I’ve had, I’ve never had somebody say otherwise.

And so, so when we’re in that place, what we have to understand is that the core wounds are existing at a subconscious level. So we can’t just affirm our way out of it. We can’t say I’m good enough. I’m good enough. I’m good enough. That’s just reaching my conscious mind. It’s not reaching subconscious. So what does reach the subconscious mind?

is when we look for where emotion and imagery exists, it’s in every single memory we ever have.  So if you were to say to somebody, tell me your favorite childhood memory, as they recount it, they’re actually going to see if they’re like, Oh, I was playing on the playground. They’re actually going to see those images.

In their mind’s eye.  And you’ll always see people when they start recounting happy memories, their body language changes, they smile. And so the memory actually is a container of emotion and imagery. So when we’re trying to reprogram these wounds that we’ve been carrying for a very long time, and we’re trying to actually recondition, create a whole new neural networks for What we can do is we can find the opposite of it.

I’m not good enough. I am good enough. And we can pick 10 pieces of memory per day for 21 days, um, to recondition it. And in doing that, we’re getting repetition, which is the firing and wiring. We’re getting the imagery and the emotion, which are the languages of the subconscious mind. And literally within a 21 day period, we can create, we can create totally new belief systems that help us shed these old parts of our identity that we may have been carrying for a very long time that are a huge part of the function of how we are that attachment style to begin with.

So it’s called auto suggestion reprogramming. Um, it actually is born out of like hypnotherapy, um, and has sort of, Roots back into it. And what we can do is we can have that 21 day. I am good enough because I showed up as this type of friend yesterday. I showed up this way at work today. I had a hard conversation two weeks ago.

I, and as we’re bringing up those memories or those, those fill in the blanks for your, because we’re actually getting emotion and imagery. So we’re using our conscious mind to speak to our subconscious. Through repetition and it’s going to create these new neural networks. So it’s a really powerful reprogramming hack that doesn’t have to take forever There’s a lot of sort of nuances to that.

I get it. Really. Yeah, really 21 days  Ten pieces of evidence a day or memories per day to oppose your original core wound and that’s it That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I really like this and I’m sure we could go much more deeply, but you know what you’re sharing. Um,  I hear echoes of that NLP.

I also actually hear echoes of dialectical behavior things. therapy. I don’t know if you’re a fan of line of hands work, but like really it’s touching on those big pillars and helping change emotion with emotion, which you’re absolutely right. I mean, I’m a big fan of change your mindset, change your mood, but for some of the deeper work it really does have to happen from the inside out.

And so I’m so glad that you’re teaching a really powerful and accessible way of being able to do that. Um, and thank you for sharing that with our listeners today. That’s Awesome. Everybody got a takeaway. It’s so good.  Yeah.  I love it. Well, and thank you so much for just spending this time with me. I feel like I could talk to you for hours.

This is such a fascinating topic, but you shared so much powerful information and I just really appreciate your generosity with our listeners today. Um, and tell us if people wanted to learn more about you and your work, where, where would they go?  Um, so I put daily content out on YouTube. Great. Under Ta Gibson Personal Development School.

And then I also have a website where people can always take an attacking style quiz. Wonderful. Um, to get actually a report with their core wounds, their needs or emotional cuts, all sorts of stuff that we talked about. Um, and that’s at personal development Wonderful. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

This has been a fun conversation. I, I hope you come back sometime.  Thank you so much. I really enjoyed this and I’d love to be back with you. Thank you for having me.  You guys, Thais and I just kind of jumped right into it today and had a great conversation that I still hope was helpful for you. But in all the excitement, I didn’t have a chance to highlight our mood music today.

This is Dawn Robin doing a cover of the classic song, Will You Love Me Tomorrow by Carole King, originally recorded by the Shirelles, which I chose because it kind of exemplifies that anxiety of,  But what about tomorrow, right? That I’m, I’m sure you can relate to if, if you’ve experienced that attachment anxiety.

So at any rate, I sincerely hope today’s episode was helpful for you. And if you’d like more of this, I have more for you. Come to my website, growingself. com. Come into. the happiness collection and come find healthy relationships. That’s the content collection where I’m keeping everything related to attachment styles.

I have a curated podcast playlist there for you. I also have an assessment that I have put together as well. I think I’m probably coming at it a little bit differently from Thais. I think she’s focused more on individual kinds of things, but this will give you insight into how attachment Things are showing up in your relationship and we’ll also provide feedback on, on what you can do to start making positive changes to get this back towards the secure.

So, Hey, thanks again for spending this time with us today. And I’ll be back in touch next time with another episode. Take care.

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