#31: On Healing as an Anxious Girlie (and Growing To Become a Soft & Secure Woman)

What a journey.

#31: On Healing as an Anxious Girlie (and Growing To Become a Soft & Secure Woman)
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What's your attachment style?

The other day, I took the quiz and was pleasantly surprised that the result read, "Your attachment style is Secure."

For most of my life, I thought I'll always have a hard time trusting others and never get over my fear of abandonment. I thought it was part of my personality—and people should take it or leave it.

Until I found out about my anxious/preoccupied attachment style.

Here's how The Attachment Project defines it:

"The anxious/preoccupied attachment style is characterized by low feelings of self-esteem and self-worth, but also by holding others in high regard.

People with this attachment style actively seek intimacy, security, and deep bonds with others, but due to their early experiences, struggle to trust their partners and loved ones. For these reasons, someone with the anxious/preoccupied attachment style can act clingy, suspicious, and hypervigilant toward other people.

Unfortunately, although people with this attachment style tend to be overly dependent on their relationships, their actions within them often force others away – reinforcing their feelings of low worth.

• Due to an inconsistent formative period, you may feel as though you’re unworthy of love. As a result, you seek external validation and reassurance from others in an attempt to prove to yourself that you deserve love and affection.

• You fear rejection and criticism. Thus, you may become highly upset at any form of disapproval.

• You self-sacrifice and put the needs of others first.

• You struggle with being single or alone for periods of time. Relationships and intimacy are strongly connected with an anxious attacher’s feelings of self-worth, therefore you may crave attention and try to impress others in an attempt to get it.

• You are attentive to your loved ones – almost to a fault. Others may end up taking advantage of your kind and generous nature because of this trait.

When I learned about this, I felt seen and heard. Because all my life I thought no one would understand why and how I get anxious (especially in the context of relationships). Now I know I wasn't alone, and that I could actually do something about it by working on becoming secure.

Three months ago

May 20, 2023

Recently, I found out that mine is anxious/preoccupied, which is one of the three insecure attachment styles. Some of the classic signs of the anxious/preoccupied attachment style include the following:

- an overly negative view of oneself
- the need for external validation
- the struggle to trust loved ones, and;
- the overwhelming fear of being abandoned.

After learning about this, I've slowly started becoming aware of my initial reaction to circumstances and regulating my emotions better and quicker.

One of the valuable lessons I've been trying so hard to practice to develop a more secure attachment style is to ask, not assume.

For years, my immediate response to uncomfortable feelings and uncertainty is to assume that people will always leave me or hurt me or betray me (if not now, maybe eventually). I also assume that people think negatively of me (just like how I myself think negatively of me). As a result, I often start unnecessary conflicts and bring drama to the table.

But lately, I noticed how helpful it is in regulating my emotions to just stop, breathe, and ask what the other person actually feels or means or thinks—instead of jumping to conclusions and interpreting the situation through the lens of my anxious/preoccupied attachment style.

💭 When was the last time you asked instead of assuming? When was the last time you jumped to conclusions instead of calming down and asking for clarifications?

*flash forward to now*

Working towards Earned Secure Attachment

Frankly, despite the result of the quiz, I know I haven't made it yet. Because there isn't really a point in time where we run out of things that we need to work on (e.g. developing more secure patterns). As long as we're breathing, there's room to grow.

But so far, here's a list of what has been helping me grow from being an anxious girlie into a soft and secure woman.

1.  Regaining a solid sense of self. I've had to take the time to get to know myself again, weeding out the "what would other people think?" voices in my head and tuning into my inner world to redefine my beliefs, values, hopes, and dreams. It's funny how I summed it up in one sentence, but in reality it took hours of journaling, crying to God on my knees, meditation, reading and taking notes on books, listening to podcast after podcast, and being still enough to hear my own thoughts clearly again.

2.  Humbling myself enough to seek emotional support. I've always hated asking for help—it made me feel weak, made me feel like a burden, and deep down I was scared of not getting my needs met after baring my vulnerability. Despite the fear of being disappointed, I began reaching out and reconnecting with old and new friends, as well as seeking guidance and counsel from people I trust and respect. And I kid you not, friendships are gifts from God. Treasure them.

3.  Talking to a mental health professional. I've booked an appointment with my therapist to hash out everything that was making me anxious. It was a huge help to be able to voice out my negative and self-loathing thought patterns and have a professional question them for you and provide neutral and positive alternatives.

4. Building self-respect again. After self-abandoning for so long (aka dismissing my thoughts, feelings, and needs to try to please others and prevent them from getting mad, or worse, leaving), I've had to start treating myself with respect again. It started small—with re-establishing my workout routine and limiting screen time. And then I started booking appointments with my dermatologist, dentist, stylists—basically, I've stopped waiting for someone to save me and instead began taking better care of myself. I slowly restarted my passion projects and planned exciting things that I could look forward to.

5. Introspection and preparation. I took the time to reflect on my past experiences, how they affected me, why I acted the way I did, and how I could move forward the healthy way. I also took note of my patterns and recurring negative thoughts and actually prepared tools to help me self-soothe and validate myself when I'm triggered, counter the lies and negative thoughts with Scriptures, affirmations, and my Honey Words folder (these are screenshots of kind and loving notes and messages I've received from friends and family).

6. Practicing compassion. I really struggled with this (I still do sometimes) but I find that forgiving and being compassionate with myself and others has released so much heaviness from my life. I remind myself that we are all just doing the best that we can do.

PS: Honestly, there's a whole lot more I'd love to share about this journey that I might record an exclusive podcast episode for it (depending on my mood and schedule✌🏻), to be shared through my newsletter. So if you'd love to continue this conversation with me, sign up (just in case I can drop the podcast ep soon). ✨

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