My Dearest Lay-in-the-Grass and Find-Shapes-in-the-Clouds Community Members,
A big thank you to those that attended Sunday’s webinar, it was a wonderful crowd!
We also got some great feedback, particularly from Ms. Hannah White, who is a Pratt alumni and works in a setting “where CBT style interventions are celebrated” and she finds herself “drifting far…from her integrated psychodynamic roots.”
This webinar was a revitalizing 90 minutes, and reminded me about the depths of attunement and understanding that are needed to facilitate true healing. It’s weird how easy it is to forget that! I’ll definitely be revisiting my counseling approach with some clients – finding, in particular, where self-compassion should be prioritized over self-esteem.
One of the topics we will discuss in our second presentation of this webinar on February 17th, 2017 at 7:30pm, includes The Anxious-Avoidant Trap.
Six Signs of The Anxious-Avoidant Trap
The Anxious-Avoidant Trap occurs when partners of an anxious-ambivalent attachment style and an avoidant attachment style, find themselves locked in a dramatic, yo-yo relationship dynamic. Here are Six Signs that you or someone you know, may have fallen in!
1. The roller coaster effect. In the relationship, you never feel as if you were on an even keel. Every once in a while, when the avoidant partner makes him or herself available to the anxious partner, the anxious partners attachment system is temporarily quieted and there is the achievement of an extreme sense of closeness, which is quite literally a “high” experienced in the same part of the brain as ingestive addictions! This will ultimately freak the avoidant out (remember, in his or her early experiences closeness = loss of self-identity), which will cause him or her to withdraw. This again stimulates the anxious/ambivalent persons activating strategies, and up and down we go, endlessly riding the roller coaster.
2. An emotional token economy. If you are avoidant you inflate your self-esteem and sense of independence in comparison to someone else. If you were anxious, you are programs to feel “less than” when your attachment system is activated. Frequently, avoidants feel independent and powerful only to the extent that their partners feel needy and incapable. This is why avoidants hardly ever date each other. They do not feel strong and independent in relation to someone who shares the same sentiment that they do.
3. Stable instability. The relationship may last for a very long time but an element of uncertainty persists. You may be “together” on the surface, and in name, but the emotional and mental connection just isn’t there.
4. Pointless fighting. You may feel that you were constantly fighting the things that you should not be fighting about it all. The arguments may be centered around something concrete and seemingly unimportant, but are really metaphors for the level of intimacy (or lack thereof) between you.
5. You are perceived as the enemy. If you are the anxious partner, frequently you will find that the closer you get to your partner, the worse you are treated. This is because of the projections we discussed above. The more connected you become to this avoidant person the more they will project onto you all of the “needy” parts they reject in themselves. This is the paradox of the anxious-avoidant trap; The closer you become the less you will be able to actually see each other for who the other is–as opposed to your own self projections.
6. Feeling trapped. When you think about it rationally and logically you know the relationship is not right for you, but you are too connected (addicted) to the other person to leave.
But how and why does this happen?
To learn more, we are launching two self-study courses.
- The Anxious-Avoidant Trap: A Creative Arts Therapies Approach to Insecure Attachment Styles in Adult Relationships (2.5 CEs)
- Beyond the Breakup: Applying Art Therapy and Attachment Styles to Building Better Relationships (8.5 CEs)
Hope to see you there!
Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT
Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist
Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner