When we suffer from anxiety in our relationships, we might feel terrified our partner will leave us for someone better.
We cling onto them, check their social media, or text them, every 5 minutes, seeking reassurance or validation. I did all of those things and more.
And if you’re like I was, you’ll try anything to stop feeling anxious and stressed.
Meditation might be one of the things you do to help yourself.
We’re told, “meditation will change your life!” So we try it for 10 minutes here and there, hoping it’ll absolve us of our fear of abandonment or rejection.
As we sit cross-legged, we open one eye and look around the room and wonder “am I cured yet? I don’t feel any different…”
Here’s the thing.
Meditation, on its own, might not eliminate our anxious attachment in relationships. There’s more to it than just meditating.
Let’s go through it together.
Peeling Back the Layers
Humans are like onions — we have lots of layers (and we can make each other cry.)
Do you know what your layers are?
Your thought patterns, habits, and emotional responses?
When we feel anxiously attached in our relationships, our past is likely pulling the strings on us.
Our Earliest Relationship Can Tell Us A Lot
We can often find answers when we look at how our relationship was with our parents or caregivers in childhood.
If we had a ruptured connection to them, this might carry forward into adulthood.
Our parents may have been there one minute, emotionally unavailable the next. Maybe they were abusive, neglectful, or had their own mental health issues.
Even if they gave us everything we needed, attachment issues can still emerge if they didn’t tend to our needs consistently in an emotionally loving and loving way.
My parents felt distant, my dad wasn’t there, and my mum was trying to get her life together. I learned to ‘just get on with it’ rather than expressing my emotions.
Anxious Attachment in Adulthood
As an adult, we may attract people who are emotionally unavailable and can’t give us what we think we need.
We may struggle with a deep-rooted fear of abandonment and feel highly anxious and clingy towards our partner.
Psychoanalyst John Bowlby once said,
“We’re only as needy as our unmet needs.”
I held onto whoever I dated so tightly it killed pretty much every relationship I had. I didn’t understand what was ‘wrong’ with me.
So I started meditating.
Meditation gave me insight and helped reduce my reactivity, but it didn’t solve my attachment issues on its own.
Breaking Your Old Habits
Meditating can help us increase our self-awareness, and evidence shows it can help soothe the body's overactive stress responses too.
Meditation can be more effective when we pair it with other techniques.
We want to disrupt the autopilot patterns that are on repeat. We react the same way we always do, without being conscious of these reactions.
It’s because our brain likes taking the safe, well-trodden path, and we when try and divert it down another road, we feel resistance.
This is especially true when we’ve endured trauma. Safety feels good — but if we want to change, we need to start stretching ourselves, even just a little.
And it must be done consistently if we want lasting change.
Try Doing This
Grab a journal, and reflect on your layers — your emotional reactions and responses in your relationship.
We want to shine a light on our unconscious patterns and start trying to replace them with the desired responses.
- Write it down — How do you respond when you haven’t spoken to your partner all day? When your partner seems uninterested (real or imagined), how do you react?
- Ask yourself — How can I react differently, and create a pause, next time when I feel my emotions flowing?
We want to try and pause our unconscious response. And then we can implement our desired reaction, even if it feels challenging at first.
The response to the trigger might be something as simple as creating a word to say out loud when we recognise we’re starting to feel emotional.
For me, I did star jumps, it sounds ridiculous, but it helped create a pause for me to cool my jets and see the situation a bit more clearly.
When we can shake the tree on our old patterns and change it up, we’re pushing back against our conditioning.
And the more we practise creating a habit, the easier it becomes, and eventually, it becomes the norm.
What will you do differently today?
When we experience anxiety in our relationships, we might try everything under the sun to heal our issues. Meditation might be one of those things.
While meditation may not solve our issues on its own, it can help calm our brains down. When we can pair meditation with other techniques, it can improve its effectiveness.
The more we can disrupt our old patterns and start trying to replace them with what we want, the easier it’ll become over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the process had to start somewhere, right?
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© Kathrine Meraki
While this advice worked for me, it may not work for you. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please seek help from a mental health professional.