6 ways to better self-connection from anxiety and fear

Strength doesn't come from always winning in life. Character, resilience and strength come from learning to endure hardships without weakening in your resolve to overcome challenges placed in your way.


The way we view our relationship with the world will be established by the time we reach the tender age of seven years old. This includes the attachment style we will go on to develop in adult relationships and how we view our conditions of worth.

How do you view yourself today? Do you feel secure in your relationship or hold self-doubt when it comes to feelings of self-worth clinging to the hope things might change? If only I can convince them of whom I would like them to be. It would be far more advantageous to gain a deep understanding of yourself and your requirements to discover your best connection.

Do you avoid social situations out of fear or feeling people are watching you? Do you spend hours on a letter or project trying to get it just perfect? Maybe you fluctuate between procrastination and perfectionism. Often we can be our own worst critics the things we tell ourselves we would never provide as feedback to anyone else let alone a friend. When we feel stuck in this dilemma it is not unusual to feel bouts of depression in what feels great uncertainty. 

So how do we begin the journey of self-connection and provide for us what each one of us personally requires to feel confident in our own body? We need to replace criticism with self-compassion.

The skills of life are taught in school but can you recall a time you were taught how to look after yourself when it comes to your mental health? Sexual education was taught but did anyone take the time to explain what we should look for in a secure match in the first place? Do you fully understand what a secure relationship should be? I think it is safe to say most of us choose a partner or seek love on the traits we know because it all feels familiar. What if we deserve more?

The trauma of the world we are born into

A lot of people today feel anxious or depressed in everyday interactions and fill themselves with self-doubt facing social situations in dread because they do not feel good enough, therefore, they create avoidance techniques and hide often with accusations of self-blame and unnecessary shame. 

The first point I want to establish is that it is not your fault. At some point, you have experienced trauma – this has influenced your thinking. This trauma might be what is referred to as developmental trauma that can transpire as bullying in the playground undermining levels of confidence or a catastrophic event that shaped the way you think today. Traumatic events happen to us and these can vastly influence how safe we perceive our world to be after the event has long passed us. 

Before we are born, we start registering experiences both good and bad. Our environmental circumstances of birth are chosen without any say from us, we are born into a world where we depend upon others and go on to be formed in the environment of our parents. By the time our brain is seven years old, the pre-operational stage of the brain is 90% complete. This means what we witness in the first seven years of our life becomes our frame of reference from then on we are building upon learnt behaviour.

I'm sure many of us have events we feel have held us back at some stage including periods of bullying and times we needed encouragement but it was not forthcoming. The subject is worth a publication of its own and indeed many books have been written on a wide array of developmental psychology. 

Most of us will be able to trace the roots of anxiety back to a stage of life even if disassociation has occurred. Furthermore, the trauma we experience does not just vanish, it becomes stored up in the body until such times it becomes addressed. Have you ever considered we can only be led where we are prepared to venture? Once we learn boundaries they can be a great protection against harm. What if there is a better way to a journey to self-awareness and improved decision-making?

Attachment styles

The second area of attention we now focus on is have you noticed how we tend to form relationships that bear witness to what we have grown up with, this is because we are drawn to the similarity. Your attachment style won't explain everything about your relationship but often there will be a resemblance to why that particular close relationship succeeded/failed from the manner you became attracted to each other along with the relationship problems that came up between you both of any perceived differences.

There are four attachment styles in the relationships we form. You might see some aspects of yourself in more than one attachment style but will gain an overall view of where you feel you fit. During the course of life and with professional help it is possible to gain confidence to secure a less anxious approach to seeking a long-term partner and feel at ease within yourself.

Knowing your unique attachment style can help you become more self-aware and build healthier long-term partnerships. It's all about knowing what to look for and how to present one's self having raised our levels of self-worth and confidence.  

  • secure attachment (feeling secure and open to love)
  • avoidant attachment (a childhood of dismissive, or anxious avoidance with care providers)
  • anxious attachment (a childhood of feeling preoccupied, or anxious-ambivalent with care providers)
  • disorganised attachment  (a childhood of fearful avoidance with care providers)

You no doubt have already noticed only one of these attachment styles is secure avoidant anxious and disorganised are reflections of a challenging developmental stage of childhood. Until such times as we learn to accept we hang out in what we know. A deep meaningful relationship might always pose a challenge of feeling confident. Do you see how we tend to fall into the category we feel comfortable in? The other side of this could be we have a secure attachment style but the person of our desire may fall into one of the other three styles. In studies it was discovered women will score higher on anxiety and men tend to score higher on avoidance when it comes to relationships. Now let's look at each style.

Secure attachment

Secure attachment comes from a childhood of feeling emotionally cared for with needs met. Fear is not an issue and engagement with the world is not a challenge. As a result of this, relationships are navigated with confidence. Due to the developmental process, secure types find it easy to become trusting and at ease when displaying love to their partner. Trust is not a problem.

Securely attached people feel worthy of affection and don’t require constant external validation or reassurance. Life has been good to them and no underlying trauma is present. 

Avoidant attachment

Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt you were kept at arm's length? Avoidants do not seek the emotional intimacy of a secure relationship. While they permit a romantic partner to engage with them, they avoid becoming close. The partner may feel as if they cannot deeply connect and will feel blanked when the relationship feels serious for the anxious-avoidant partner.   

Anxious attachment 

Anxious attachment stems from an inconsistent parenting style that is not in tune with the child's needs. This often comes from their own experience of the experience they grew up with. Children with anxious attachment feel high distress when a parent departs the room. There will be times when the parents will be supportive and at others distant with no regular emotional regulation of flow. This can lead to children growing up believing they are required to take care of a partner's feelings and can produce codependency.

Disorganised attachment

These relationships with disorganised attachment styles can become both confusing and unpredictable. Disorganised types desperately seek love but hold the fear of constantly being rejected while not avoiding emotional intimacy seeking it out to reject it when found. Continuing to wrestle between fear and security. 

If you feel unsure about your relationship or your matching styles including how childhood experiences might have impacted you or shaped your future I am happy to arrange counselling with you.

The cycle of anxiety 

Our third point is the cycle of anxiety. Do you ever feel you are stuck in a repetitive cycle you can't escape from? The definition of anxiety is attempting to cope with a future event before it has taken place. This is done when we allow our mind to paint a picture of what-ifs. We then begin to question ourselves in a critical sense and ask what if we can’t cope all the time gaining traction in our self-doubt.

As we become increasingly anxious we trigger our own bodies and move into a stage of hyperventilation and start scanning the environment for danger. The physical symptoms intensify in the body. We might start seeking ways to escape. If we can find a means of escape we might gain temporary relief.

If this pattern becomes established the physical symptoms increase the next time we face the challenge leading to worry and loss of confidence we engage in more safety behaviours and become deeper entrapped as we avoid any interaction. Vicious cycles of negative feelings can keep us a prisoner of our fear with bouts of depression.

In the same way, we finally trap ourselves and with help we can begin to release this fear that binds us. This is done by developing confidence and confronting our fears in gentle steps.

I always explain to my clients you would not walk fresh into the gym and pick up the biggest weights. In like manner you are not expected to embrace your biggest fear first but you are encouraged to work towards larger goals at your own pace. When we do this by structured performance we have every opportunity of reaching our goal of reduced anxiety and a more active life. When you consider your fears may have developed over a lifetime the journey to self-connection should never be rushed. 

Procrastination or perfectionism

Two traits anxious people tend to have at opposite ends of the spectrum are that they are either caught up in procrastination putting things off or painstakingly trying to reach perfectionism. The secret is in finding balance otherwise known as the good enough approach we feel content that our efforts are acceptable without feeling the need to allow our inner critic to bring us down. 

Procrastination is common with anxiety sufferers tending to dwell on the negative aspects of any outcome we are fueled by self-doubt therefore putting off tasks we often feel we will fail and not achieve a perfect result. We will then feel judged stirring up feelings of fear and dread.

Once something can no longer be put off an approach of perfectionism is sought. This often stems from feelings of failure or rejection that are likely to occur in the mind of the anxious person. Fear and anxiety, therefore, motivate the perfectionist approach to overcome the fear of uncertainty. 

In overcoming these feelings balance must be used to gain the best results – it would be better to allow more time and not procrastinate in the first place. Receiving feedback needs to be viewed in a positive light. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, we need to become more self-aware and leading into the next paragraph seek the best attributes of self we are all unique. It's time to lower the pressure we put ourselves under and look for meaning over perfection. Celebrate your best self.

The journey from fear to confronting our fear

In our fifth point, we now begin the journey of self-connection. Would you agree fear, stress, worry, depression and anxiety have become our default setting these days? This can prevent us from experiencing the full extent of the happiness, joy, and health we all deserve. Fear robs us of all joy just as stress and worry will bring about bouts of depression but release can be found. Yes, there can be freedom to be found in a broken world it comes from refusing to be bound in doom and gloom and instead creating from self-belief our own individual view of this world.

What if we discovered we deserved to be heard and to own our unique view? Our feelings are validated and we are uniquely interesting and have something of worth to offer from free expression in all aspects of life. It is in finding our voice we escape fear and begin to celebrate our individuality. No more living our lives to serve the expectations of others. This comes from learning our self-worth in the natural gifts we have that make us who we are.

I have spent many years now helping people reach their true potential and grow in confidence from a strengths-based approach sharpening and shaping the aspects of the character you already have. Have you ever considered how you are in deep connection to yourself and what you want?

If you are disillusioned by the way people have treated you, now might be the time to discover your true self and create a life based on your values of worth. I am both qualified and have experience in helping many find a much better way of living where your self-acceptance comes first and foremost. Choose a life where your decisions matter. Learn to confront your fears logically and safely with full counselling support. A life where the pleasing of others is no longer paramount above your happiness.

Self-parenting and overcoming self-doubt 

So as we now enter the sixth and final section we see how the destiny we desire is wrapped up in the quality of the relationship we build and develop within ourselves. We can cultivate the ability to be our worst critic or best friend we get to choose. We have travelled through key stages of development.

Now I have the greatest of news to share with you if at any stage you feel you did not receive the support you deserved: there is a healing process known as self-parenting and with experienced help you can heal from past injuries and go on to achieve wonderful things in your life.

As adults, we cannot physically return to childhood so the concept of self-parenting means providing for ourselves. Re-parenting involves the learning of self-compassion for our wounded inner child to thrive in conditions of self-respect and dignity overcoming past disappointments and growing in confidence to include healing in a less anxious world.

If you have any questions regarding anxiety, trauma or depression please contact me without obligation I offer a free 30-minute online discovery session.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London W6 & E14
Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Anxiety Specialist
London W6 & E14

I am an approved integrative counsellor registered in London. I specialize in trauma, anxiety & depression issues.

I believe we amount to a sum total of all our experiences to date and that it is never to late to discover more effective ways to improve our life.

I look forward to contributing quality reading here on Counselling Directory .

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