How to Self Soothe Anxious Attachment-Symptoms&Reasons&Treatments

How to Self Soothe Anxious Attachment-Symptoms&Reasons&Treatments

One of four attachment types that begins in childhood and lasts into adulthood is anxious attachment. People relate to others in different ways according to their attachment styles. Anxious attachment (also called ambivalent) relationships are characterized by a fear that other people will not respond to one’s desire for intimacy. People with anxious attachment express worries about the responsiveness and availability of significant others (e.g., parents, friends, and romantic partners).

These individuals desire intimacy but also feel anxious about whether other romantic partners will meet their emotional needs. They can get anxious when given autonomy and independence. Furthermore, if they believe that others’ affirmations and values come from an untrue place or don’t meet the necessary standards of responsiveness, they might experience distress.

Attachment Theory

John Bowlby, a psychologist, first proposed the attachment theory in the 1950s. According to his theory, a child’s early attachment style is determined by how their primary caregiver parented them. According to Bowlby, an individual’s sense of security as a child has a significant impact on their attachment style as an adult.

It is generally accepted that there are four attachment styles (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978):

  • Secure–

this is characterized by feelings of trust and safety in relationships. Children who have a strong attachment to their caregivers feel cared for and safe. Adults who are securely attached are able to build enduring relationships.

  • Anxious –

those with an anxious attachment style have problems trusting others. They appear clingy or needy because they frequently fear being abandoned by others.

  • Disorganized (Fearful) –

this is marked by a mix of behavior that can range from avoidance to clinginess. This attachment style is characterized by a desire for close relationships as well as a fear of being hurt or betrayed by others (Main & Solomon, 1986).

  • Avoidant (Dismissive) –

this attachment style is characterized by problems with intimacy and low emotional investment in relationships.

How to Self Soothe Anxious Attachment-Symptoms&Reasons&Treatments


Typically, anxious attachments are formed during childhood. While there is not always a clear-cut answer for why a child may develop an anxious attachment, it could be as a result of some of the following factors:

Emotional Distance

A child won’t feel secure and stable if a parent or caregiver is absentminded or neglectful of their needs. Children who do not have their emotional needs met are more likely to have elevated levels of these emotions, particularly when they are distressed or anxious. This can persist throughout life in the form of friendships and romantic connections where others do not give the person the comfort they anticipate.

Anxious Caregivers

It is typical for children with anxious attachment styles to have anxiously attached parents. This is probably not due to genetics, but rather to a continuation of behavioral patterns that have been passed down through the generations.

Without treatment, the anxiously attached child may also have anxiously attached offspring.

Inconsistent Parenting

Anxious attachment is often associated with an inconsistent parenting pattern. When a parent supports and is attentive to a child’s needs at times, but not always, this is inconsistent parenting. Sometimes the caregiver may be emotionally unavailable, insensitive, and cold. A caregiver who is giving off conflicting signals may cause the child to become confused about their relationship.

Caregiver’s ’emotional Hunger’

A child’s development of an anxious attachment style is frequently associated with the caregiver’s emotional hunger. Here, the caregivers aspire to an intimate relationship with the child on an emotional or physical level in order to meet their own needs. Because of this, they are neglecting the child’s emotional and physical needs. Using the child to satisfy their own needs could take the place of their child’s genuine love and affection. As a result of not having their needs met, the child may instead prioritize the needs of others because this is how they have always been raised.


1. People with an anxious attachment style will often experience the following symptoms in their adult relationships:

  • Overthinking about why someone didn’t call or text you.
  • Unsure of whether you did anything incorrectly or if others are offended by you.
  • When someone isn’t available the way you want them to be, you react emotionally strongly.
  • Imagining what you want the connection to be like.
  • Feeling unworthy and like you’re always trying to earn someone’s respect.
  • Concern over how other people aren’t living up to your expectations.
  • A desire to pay for your own solutions to other people’s problems.
  • Fear of being disliked by the other person or of being inadequate in some way.
  • Extreme feelings of emptiness, clinginess, neediness, or despair.
  • Examining your reality and whether you are overreacting to others.
  • Fear of abandonment.

2. Some of the key signs that a child may have an anxious attachment style include:

  • Extreme distress when separated from parents
  • Difficulty regulating and controlling negative emotions
  • Clinging to parents and caregivers
  • Inconsolable when upset – not easily comforted
  • Appearing anxious in general
  • A fear of strangers
  • Poor relationships with other children
  • Displaying aggressive behavior
  • Limited exploration of their environment


Self-regulation is the capacity to manage one’s emotions and the responses one makes to them. The ability to self-regulate is the key to successfully maintaining healthy relationships, problem-solving when there’s a conflict, and having a stable sense of self-confidence. We also need to keep in mind what is appropriate in the given circumstance.

How to Self Soothe Anxious Attachment-Symptoms&Reasons&Treatments
  • Consistent self-care

Do something regenerative for yourself, every day, even if you don’t want to. You can do this to relieve stress and tension while also strengthening your inner capacities for resilience, mindfulness, and self-worth.

  • Change your thought patterns

This method, also referred to as cognitive reframing, alters the way you think to help you become more adept at self-regulation. This could be accomplished by noting down your dreadful feelings and thoughts as they come to mind.

Next, make an effort to refute these assumptions by reviewing opposing evidence. For example, someone with an anxious attachment style might think “If I let my partner know how I really feel, then they’ll leave me.”

Think back to a time when you did let your partner know how you felt – did they leave? Once you realize this, you can create a healthier thought to replace your negative one.

  • Reparent your inner child

Healing your inner child, who first felt the uneasy attachment to a caregiver, can frequently be helpful. If you make a mistake, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself. Also, check in with yourself to see if you need comfort. You can achieve this by showing yourself the love, encouragement, and kindness that you did not experience as a child.

Final Thoughts

Resolving attachment anxiety can be a challenging but liberating process. Be patient when re-nurturing yourself and remember that change is incremental. Thankfully, with a little practice, managing our emotions is relatively simple. Techniques such as positive thinking, changing your mindset, and managing anger in a constructive way can help you self-regulate in a healthy way. Your sense of empowerment, self-worth and general well-being will all gradually improve as a result of this over time.

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