Learning Your Dance
You may notice recurring patterns in your relationships with your family and close friends. Oftentimes when we are acting from a place of fear, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, meaning that our body assumes it must fight, flee, or freeze. This is also described as being a demander or a withdrawer. Demanders will stay and fight; withdrawers will flee. In the language of attachment theory, demanders become anxious while withdrawers will avoid. Let’s now put some of what we’ve talked about into practice to help cultivate more awareness around our fear responses.
Let’s Get Introspective:
Our fears are often wired into our brains. We all have them. The challenge is identifying what those fears are, learning to attune to our feelings and exploring the root of the anxiety or fear. Let’s start by doing an emotional intake.
Check off the boxes that resonate with how you feel:
DEMANDERS (ANXIOUS) PRIMARY FEELINGS
- Fear of being alone
- Unsure if they are wanted
- Worry they will be hurt
- Unsure if they are truly seen
WITHDRAWERS (AVOIDANT) PRIMARY FEELINGS
- Afraid of being rejected or judged
- Fear they will fall short in their relationships
- Worried that they will fail
- Emotionally overwhelmed
Reflect on your responses and consider journaling about what scares you the most in your relationships. You can use this set of questions for exploration. If you’re in a romantic relationship, living with roommates, or trying to parent your children, this question, “What scares you the most?” can give you a deeper awareness of how to tend to the people who matter most to you. While this exercise isn’t a replacement for therapy, it is a tool for cultivating empathy for others and grace for ourselves as we do our best to love each other well and hold each other tightly. To learn more about attachment styles and how to have healthy conversations about them, consider listening to the podcast with Dr. Sue Johsnon.
Exercise adapted from the Hold Me Tight workbook by Dr. Sue Johnson.
For more information:
Attached by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.
Attachment Styles: Why Does Love Sometimes Feel so Difficult? (Part 1)
What do you need to understand about your attachment style?
Attachment Styles (Part 2): Will Love Always Feel This Hard?
Understand attachment through this case study.
Created for Community (Part 1): How We Moved Away From our Village
Humans thrive within community, but our modern age encourages poor relational habits. Think about the nature of your relationships with the help of the practice in this post.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get our 2024 February Thrive Calendar PDF.
You Got It!