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Anxious Attachment - Embracing Your Inner Child

holding a peace lily

It goes something like this:

You are highly attuned to any signs of potential rejection or abandonment, even when it's not evident. In situations where your partner seems emotionally distant or is unavailable for a brief period, you begin to feel anxious, questioning the stability of the relationship and if they love you. You often find yourself hesitant to express what you really want in your relationship because you’re afraid they might leave, and that would hurt. Instead, you pretend you want different things to keep them close, to ensure they stick around. The ironic thing is, you might be the one to leave first, abandoning them instead so you don’t have to fear they will abandon you. There are moments you wake up to the deep frustration you carry for having to compromise your boundaries and lose yourself in trying to be the best partner so they will stick around.

It's quite a lot to navigate!


What is anxious attachment and where does it come from?

Anxious attachment shapes how people emotionally connect in close relationships, and it often stems from early experiences. Those with an anxious attachment style tend to seek closeness and reassurance from their partner due to past experiences that may have created insecurity or unpredictability in their relationships. This can lead to heightened anxiety and fear about the stability of love and support. The need for constant validation and reassurance may be traced back to a fear of rejection or abandonment, often rooted in early life interactions and relationships.

Working with the inner child in the present can help us see how our experiences and feelings as children stuck with us and now affect how we behave as adults. In other words, understanding and addressing anxious attachment can involve exploring the emotions and patterns rooted in the inner child. But what exactly is this inner child?

The inner child refers to the emotional and psychological part of us that retains childhood experiences and feelings. It's like a little version of us that lives inside, holding onto memories, emotions, and beliefs from our early years. This inner child can influence how we perceive and react to the world as adults. The inner child may feel anxious about relationships, always seeking validation and fearing abandonment.



Healing the Inner Child for secure relationships

Acknowledging and recognising the inner child's pain is the first step. Cultivating self-compassion becomes a crucial part of the healing journey, enabling individuals to accept their vulnerabilities and provide themselves with the understanding and support they might have not received in the past. Seeking therapy can help as the therapeutic relationship acts as a corrective experience for individuals with anxious attachment, offering a secure base to explore emotions and build trust.


Start with a nurturing internal dialogue…

Words of affirmation for the inner child can help build a more compassionate and supportive relationship with that anxious part that lives within:


“I know you hurt, but we are going to be ok.”


“Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to you, but I'm here for you now.”


“I see how you hide your own needs and close yourself off to stay safe, but we don’t need to hide anymore.”


“You needed to protect yourself out of fear, and you were doing the best you could.”


“You might not see it sometimes, but you have always been loved.”

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