How An Inner Child Wound Creates Anxious Attachment
An inner child wound develops when we have experienced childhood trauma due to our physical or emotional needs not being met. If we experienced a lack of emotional warmth, support, empathy, validation, praise or encouragement as children, we can grow up with feelings of worthlessness, shame, or fears of abandonment. These feelings were experienced in childhood and remain with us, living on in the present. This is our inner child wound.
Our inner child is the most emotionally fragile and vulnerable part of us. It is often triggered and felt when there is relationship conflict, disagreement, rejection, or disconnection of any type. For many of us our inner child lives on inside of us, as it hasn’t yet been healed.
If you have ever experienced strong, intense, overwhelming feelings and emotions where you feel like you lose perspective, this is indicating your inner child is present. You may in fact feel quite childlike whilst these emotions are present, completely engulfed by your emotions and struggling to access any rationality or wisdom. When I was dating and navigating new relationships, my inner child was often triggered. A present inner child can feel:
· Hopeless about life and finding love
· Lonely, lost and disconnected
· Shame and not good enough or flawed in some way
· Paralysing anxiety about being alone, abandoned, neglected or rejected
· Intense sadness and flooded by hurt
· A deep longing for closeness, connection, love, attention, care, and empathy
· Vulnerable and insecure
· Mistrusting and worried
The development of an inner child wound is very closely linked to your attachment style from early in life. Your attachment style refers to how you bond and connect with others in relationships and develops based upon the type of care you received from your first primary caregiver (attachment figure).
If our caregiver is warm, present, attuned to our emotions and a reliable and predictable source of emotional soothing and comfort, we tend to experience a sense of security, and trust in our relationships, as well as good self-worth. However, if we don’t receive this initial sense of security from our caregiver, this can have a big impact. The result is often a reduced sense of security and trust in others, and an impaired self-worth. That is, the inner child wound comes about when we haven’t received or been imparted with a sense of security from our attachment figures. An inner child wound is so closely linked to our attachment system and beliefs.
This inner child wounding- an early life experience of emotional pain from a caregiver, whether neglect, emotional misattunement, a lack of empathy and warmth- impacts our attachment system. Our nervous system has learnt that another is not a reliable source of emotional support, care, and connection, and so, we develop anxiety about that core emotional need being met.
An anxious attachment style means you struggle to feel secure in relationships and doubt the stability and permanency of the relationship – and it started when you were very new to this world, and it’s likely impacting how you date and show up in your romantic relationship.
How To Stop Anxious Attachment Derailing Your Dating Life To Find Love
So, if you have an anxious attachment style, you tend to experience anxiety in your relationships, particularly, when there are relationship bumps, such as disconnection. You may start to internally worry a lot about the relationship, you may experience physical sensations of anxiety, and worry or obsess about the relationship ending. You may find that you replay discussions over and over, perhaps criticising yourself, or having intense feelings of self-blame and shame. You may question your self-worth, doubt that you will ever find love, or perhaps even worry about being alone forever.
No wonder dating can trigger your anxiety. When dating you may struggle with anxious feelings between dates, or feel so overwhelmed that you avoid dating altogether. You may worry that you won’t hear back from a prospective partner, or you may struggle to give them time and space to reply to you. You may feel quite neglected by new partners. At worst, and I have been there, so no judgment at all, you may become overly excited and keen about your date, and this has tended to mean that you don't progress past a few dates. Thanks to your anxious attachment, you attach easily to a romantic prospect, and they pick up on this energy, and may actually pull away (which is of course not what you intended to do at all). Unfortunately, this drive to connect in anxious attachment (called the 'urge to merge') can be experienced as 'too much, too soon' for our date in the 'getting to know you' stage.
This is not your fault- it's your attachment style! And I assure you, that your warmth, excitement, and interest in another is a good thing. But idealising a prospective partner too soon and feeling a rush of emotions is not so good. You’re being driven by an over-excited attachment system, and we need to bring in some calm to gain clarity about things too. I don’t want you to keep living at the whim of the emotional rollercoaster that is anxious attachment (like I did!).
The good news is, you can heal your anxious attachment, and your inner child wound so that you can bring greater ease, relaxation, self-trust, and calm to dating and beyond. And all of this means a more confident and authentic you is present on dates, and in your romantic relationship (that’s the goal, isn’t it!?).
Heal Your Anxious Attachment and Transform Your Love Life
Long before I met my current partner, and when I was going back to dating, my anxious attachment was in overdrive. Luckily, I had found out about inner child work using Schema Therapy. When I realised my inner child was being triggered by these new relationship events- hint, there were very big emotions present- I would do the following:
I would acknowledge that my inner child was present, I would slow down, and breathe, and then I would talk to myself from a place of love, care, and compassion. Ultimately, adult me begun to talk to my inner child and offer her soothing words. And over time, my anxious attachment was way less triggered.
That meant, I could enjoy dating again as my whole body and nervous system could relax. I was able to stay in the present and focus on getting to know my date. And after the date, I had skills to use to manage the uncertainty of not knowing about my relationship future with a prospective partner. It made things a lot easier, that's for sure!
If you do the inner work, you will heal your anxious attachment, and your dating and romantic life will transform overnight.
How Dating and Relationships Can Feel
When you heal your inner child, you overcome your anxious attachment and love becomes a whole lot easier.
Imagine dating that is anxiety-free, energising, and fun, and feels as if you’re embarking on the right step towards finding love. And as your relationship transitions into exclusivity and commitment, you’ll also be navigating with ease, as you can apply the same skills to any stage of a relationship. This work is truly powerful stuff.
You Can Heal Your Inner Child Wound, Overcome Anxious Attachment, and Find Love- here's how
I'm currently available to support new clients, and my passion is helping women find more love, whether helping them navigate dating, or build more intimacy with their current partner.
To overcome your anxious attachment, and start loving your love life again, I have several different support options available. You can contact me here to see what best fits you: https://www.therelationshipspace.com.au/contact
And don't forget to sign up to our email list to be the first to get access to my new course: Drama-Free Dating: An Essential Dating Toolkit for Women with Anxious Attachment, which will be launching early 2024!
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