Our conversation on attachment styles brings us to anxious attachments and how one can identify this style in their different day to day interactions.
Anxious attachment /ambivalence also referred to as preoccupied – children cling to their mothers very tightly and are reluctant to explore their environment. As teenagers, they may struggle to fit in and may go out of their way to impress their peers. As adults, they may be seen as needy, clingy and in some cases nagging, with a tendency towards angry and controlling behavior. The control is mainly to insure them from possible rejection and abandonment.
What does anxious attachment look like?
In platonic and romantic relationships, the individuals may have a strong fear of abandonment. These individuals are constantly in pursuit of consistency and stability in their relationships’ and as a result may people please. There is a high sensitivity to outside threat and the person may act out when they feel threatened. Due to the need to feel secure in relationships, they have a high value for closeness and intimacy which may overwhelm their friends’ and partners. If a love interest is unreciprocated, they interpret this as rejection and may explode in jealous rage.
The individuals are more tuned in to the needs of those around them as opposed to their own, resulting in low self-esteem. There is difficulty communicating their needs clearly and a tendency to connect through conflict. This may cause them to blame other parties due to unawareness of their responsibility in the relationship.
As a parent one may have inconsistent emotional interactions with their child/children. They may use the child as a source of meeting their own emotional needs, setting poor boundaries with a tendency to control so as to ensure loyalty and emotional security. This may lead to an authoritarian(overbearing and hovering) parenting style.
In a work setup, the individual may often do more than they can handle just to gain the approval of their superiors.
The difficulty in communicating their needs may cause them to be constantly fatigued and ill, but fear of disapproval keeps them in that state.
In a leadership role, they may control their juniors to submission in fear of being rejected. An example is political leaders who demand unquestioned obedience from their subjects.
If I am anxiously attached, what can I do to improve my situation?
1. Acknowledge any childhood pains or abandonment that may have led you here.
2. Be kind and compassionate to yourself.
3. Identify your needs, those of warmth, closeness and intimacy.
4. Express your needs more directly
5. Bring in people that you trust and slowly begin to share your fears of abandonment
6. Take responsibility for how you may have hurt others without extending blame. Be weary of projecting the fears on others.
7. Seek therapy to help build a healthy secure system.
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