Relationships aren’t always easy, right? Never mind when you add anxiety into the mix! Relationship anxiety can look like constantly worrying about your relationship, having the same arguments over and over again, trying to explain how you’re feeling and being met with defensiveness and shutdown, or a whole lot of wondering if this is really the right relationship for you. Does any of this sound familiar? Well, with the right tools & some expert guidance, your relationship can get a whole lot easier. And cue Stephanie!
Stephanie Rigg is a Relationship Coach located in Australia, who specializes in helping people break free of insecurity and anxiety to create deep, loving, and connected relationships. She helps people who struggle with any of the four attachment styles, but in today’s episode, we’re going to primarily talk about the anxious attachment style, which is something that she has a whole lot of knowledge on and also lived experience.
In this episode, Stephanie dives into:
What anxious attachment is
Some things that can cause you to struggle with anxious attachment
How fear and uncertainty plays a role in anxious attachment
Helpful tips, tools, and actionable steps you can take to heal
WHAT IS ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT?
Anxious attachment is characterized as having high intimacy needs. It can look like wanting as much contact as possible, as much of the time as possible, spending a lot of time together, and the relationship is typically the most important thing in your life and you’ll prioritize it over work and other things. It can also look like always wanting to be in a relationship and maybe not being super comfortable being alone. And if you’re single, you may have a strong drive to get back into a relationship quickly.
It can also look like overthinking, overanalyzing, being anxious surrounding something being wrong, having a low tolerance for uncertainty or a low tolerance of natural ebbs and flows in relationships. It can also look like having a tendency to catastrophize, having a fear of abandonment, a fear of being alone, fear of being left, fear of rejection, and can create panic and distress at any sign of trouble, conflict, or separation.
SOME CAUSES OF ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT
Some causes of anxious attachment can be:
An unhealthy relationship as an early adult
HOW FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY PLAYS A ROLE
“Uncertainty is hard, but the attachment means that your sensitivity to uncertainty is really heightened. So the triggers that will then lead you to catastrophize in really extreme ways, like it doesn’t take much uncertainty for you to take off into outer space with meaning making and storytelling and this worst case scenario kind of thing.”
These scenarios may be really hard and triggering for you:
My partner is taking a bit to respond to messages.
My partner is a bit quiet today.
Stephanie says, "Distance, whether it’s physical or emotional, can be so triggering and distressing for someone with anxious attachment because it creates so much uncertainty. Uncertainty creates so much unsafety because it’s like… I’m about to be left. Something is terribly wrong. We’re about to break up. You’re about to leave me. This is a really common struggle and can be quite debilitating."
And if the partner is withdrawing, the anxiously attached person’s last resort to connect is conflict.
“Conflict as a source of connection feels safer than distance from their withdrawal.”
HELPFUL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HEAL
Stephanie’s approach is to combine cognitive work such as belief reprogramming with nervous system regulation through somatic approaches. She shares that the combination of these two pieces is critical.
Combining these two approaches and doing this work allows you to…
Notice what’s going on in your body and downregulate your nervous system when you’re triggered so that you can create safety in your body
Understand what you’re struggling with and why, and allows you to begin to do the work of being aware of the stories, patterns, and behaviors so that you can work to change them in healthy ways
Be aware of what you need and allows you to give yourself what you need
To listen to the full episode and gain all of the knowledge, insights, tips, and tools that Stephanie shares, tune in above or anywhere you listen to podcasts!
HOW TO CONNECT WITH STEPHANIE:
Coaching, courses, & all the things: stephanierigg.com
On Instagram: @stephanie_rigg