Anxious Attachment – 3 Ways To Manage It

Attachment theory is a psychological approach to emotional development, based broadly on the type of connections we have early on in life with our caregivers. Depending on which book you read, you may get up to 6 types of different attachment types, but the most important ones are: secure attachment, anxious attachment and avoidant attachment.

Very briefly put, secure attachment is regarded as the “healthy way” of relating with other people, because you are able to regulate your behavior without too much damage, whereas anxious and avoidant are unhealthy, toxic ways of relating.

Anxious attachment is a behavioral pattern in which you’re feeling, well, anxious, rushing to do something right away when you’re facing loss or abandonment, while avoidant is a pattern in which you’re hiding, you’re running away, burning bridges. Of course, this is all very simplified, just to give you an overview – for a more in depth description, feel free to follow the Wikipedia link at the beginning of the article.

Attachment To Everything, Not Just People

When I first encountered this theory, a couple of years ago, I quickly realized I fall in the “anxious attachment” category. Or, to be more precise, I used to fall in that category, because things changed drastically in the last decade. But for most of my first 40 years on this Earth, I’ve been anxious.

And what made me write this post today was the realization that this attachment pattern is not only in relationship with others, but also with really everything that which we can attach to. It may be attachment to a certain goal, to a certain lifestyle, or even to a certain image about yourself, a certain persona that you identify with. Anxious attachment may translate as a need to always be prepared, as an overachieving attitude (I have to constantly prove myself), or as an unhealthy stubbornness in front of adversity (I won’t give up, no mater what).

Needless to say I checked all the boxes above in my younger years: I’ve been an online entrepreneur when people in my country hardly knew what the Internet is, hustling day in and day out for 9 years just to prove myself, and, later on, I hang on way too tight to a losing business spending 2 and a half years in a venture I should have got of after the first 6 months. All these aren’t reasons to be proud, but it was a huge learning surface. Or, using a term I really like, a huge schnitzel effect.

Here are a few things that worked for me:


For me, meditation is not necessarily the exotic thing you see preached and sold all over the world now, in which you close your eyes and chant mantras and expect the Universe to solve all your problems. It’s less like a spa, and more like a martial art, in which you try to keep your focus on the task at hand. Of course, you can start with whatever form of meditation you like, even the exotic ones, but what works, in the end, is the continuous habit of staying in meditation, not the exoticism.

Meditation helps with anxious attachment by creating a little bit of space between the stimulus and reaction. Instead of reacting instantly to adversity, by reflex, we have a little bit of a breathing, in which we can at least start pondering what’s the best course of action.

Small Daily Rituals

For the last 10 years I’ve been practicing at least a little bit of yoga every day. Again, don’t think that I can do acrobatic postures (or that yoga is only the ability to do acrobatic postures). It’s more like a stretching routine, but one that is done constantly, every morning. There were years in which I did at least 45 minutes every morning, and years in which I barely did 10. But I did it constantly and I still do it. There are other small rituals that I do, some lasting more, some less, and I already wrote extensively about them here.

Small rituals help with anxious attachment by creating an anchoring point. When the storm hits, if the ritual is strong, it will act like a grounding force, helping you manage your anxious tendencies in a better way.

Ask For Help

This is probably the most difficult for all, I know it was for me. And that is because asking for help is a conscious choice, one that must be performed precisely when your reflex is to face the adversity alone, or do something, anything, right now, because otherwise the world will crumble. It takes time and courage to learn how to ask for help, but it pays off. Like in the Wizard of Oz story, the moment you ask for help, whatever problem you are facing is suddenly smaller, more manageable, and you realize it just shrunk to the size of the wizard behind the huge panel in which he was projecting a mighty image.

Needless to say, if anxious attachment is becoming a really serious issue – and you can assess that by seeing if you’re constantly stressed, overworked, feeling not good enough, always supporting others, or experiencing apathy for really long period of times – then you should ask for specialized help.

A simple blog post, like this one, will only make you understand the problem.

Actually solving the problem is a different story.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.