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Relationship Anxiety & Avoidance Attachment Styles – with Robyn Michon, Relationship Coach

Guest: Robyn Michon
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Robyn is a Relationship Anxiety Coach helping smart, successful people figure out what they are doing wrong in relationships so that you can feel more Confident, more Secure, and more Loved. Connect with Robyn Michon here

Want to know more about attachment styles? Do you feel anxious in your relationships? Perhaps you see unhealthy patterns repeating in relationship after relationship? Or maybe you find yourself unintentionally sabotaging your relationships in a push-pull dance of connection and you’re worried you’re going to be alone?

If any of this sounds like your experience, this podcast episode is for you. We’re joined by Robyn Michon, a Relationship Anxiety Coach who’s here to share her own experiences of dating and relationships, and realising that something has to change within her; talk us through the anxious, avoidant and secure attachment styles, and also share ways that you can stop yourself from repeating unhealthy cycles of conflict and avoidance within your relationship. Plus, she offers you permission to go after what you want regardless of the messages we get from society! Robyn is an absolute joy to listen to and you’re going to get so much out of this wonderful conversation.

Transcript

Hayley Stanton  0:05

Hello, and welcome to the Quiet Connections Podcast. Do you feel anxious in your relationships? Perhaps you see unhealthy patterns repeating in relationship after relationship? Or maybe you find yourself unintentionally sabotaging your relationships in a push-pull dance of connection and you’re worried you’re going to be alone? I certainly know that one. If any of this sounds like your experience, this podcast episode is for you. I’m Hayley and in this episode I am joined by Robyn Michon, a relationship anxiety coach who’s here to share her own experiences of dating, and realising that something has to change within her. Robyn talks us through the anxious, avoidant and secure attachment styles, which we both believe is essential for you to know about if you’re in a relationship. And she also shares ways that you can stop yourself from repeating unhealthy cycles of conflict within your relationship. Plus, she offers you permission to go after what you want regardless of the messages we get from society. Robyn is an absolute joy to listen to and I’m confident that you’re going to get so much out of this wonderful conversation. So let’s hear from Robyn now.

Welcome to the podcast, Robyn. It’s lovely to have you here.

Robyn Michon  1:28

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Hayley Stanton  1:31

Would you like to start by sharing a little bit about what you do and who you help?

Robyn Michon  1:36

Yeah, so I’m a relationship coach, I focus mainly on people who are feeling anxious in relationships. So it usually looks like thinking a lot about relationships, it dominates a lot of their thoughts. They might have intrusive thoughts they want to stop thinking about it, but they just can’t, which used to be me all the time. And they’re often the ones in the relationship that overcommunicate, actually. So they just keep trying to fix it, trying to fix it, trying to fix it, and they don’t know how and it’s all really coming from like feeling anxious. And from that emotion, they want to fix the relationship so bad. They want it to work so badly that it actually causes them problems in the relationship. So I help them learn how to stop doing that. How to like, really come back to the relationship with themselves; how to feel calm; and how to know the difference between what’s actually a problem in the relationship and what’s maybe just their anxiety and their mind causing problems or their fears causing problems.

Hayley Stanton  2:34

Oh, that’s so interesting. So you mentioned that this is something that you experienced yourself. Can you tell us a little bit more about how anxiety showed up in your relationships, please?

Robyn Michon  2:44

Yeah, that’s why I got into coaching at first. Honestly, I really get it. The first time that I hired a coach, before I knew I wanted to be a coach, I was just trying to win a guy back. That is totally why it was like up and down. And it was up and down because I would get so anxious. So it would really feel great when I was with him. But we will talk about attachment styles. And he was a little bit avoidant, so he would pull away fairly often. So it would be like so great when we were together. And then when we weren’t, and sometimes it wasn’t right. I think in relationships we also really idealising; we have these stories about how great it was. But when I really look back, like, it was fine, there were good moments, but we really idealise it. And then when he would pull away, or just not text me back right away or something, I would get really anxious. And I’d be wondering, like, Is he really into this? And just, the biggest thing for me was that it really took away from the rest of my life. Like, I would be so worried about it that even at work, I wasn’t really showing up at work, like I would sort of be there. But a lot of the time I was more like has he texted me back yet? Like what’s going on in the relationship? Or I was just like distracted by it.

Hayley Stanton  3:54

Yeah, so you’re very much stuck in your head thinking about the relationship and it really dominated everything.

Robyn Michon  4:00

Yeah, and I couldn’t stop it. And I mean, a lot of my clients, they’ll be fairly successful. Like I actually had a really good job like downtown job, like underground parking, all the things. But I just didn’t, I couldn’t love my life and really live my life because I was always wondering what’s happening with this relationship? Where is it going? And there were just so many issues right all the time. My mind just came up with so many problems, that it felt like whenever we were hanging out, too, I was always talking about problems, which really actually pushed partners away. I went through like a couple partners with all that anxiety while I was learning how to deal with it and how to not feel so anxious, and it will push them away because it was just so much for them. All the emotion that I was coming with was really hard. It was hard for them to manage too.

Hayley Stanton  4:49

Yeah, and what was it like for you?

Robyn Michon  4:52

So for me, I was really bad and I always say my clients don’t have to be if it’s just bothering you a little bit, come get help, you don’t need to feel awful. But I was really bad. I would just act in ways that I didn’t want to be acting. So I would text way too many times because I couldn’t regulate. I didn’t know how to stop. Actually, it was kind of compulsive at times. Especially in breakups, or when things aren’t going well, it’s like, I put my phone in the other room but it didn’t help. I was just sitting there. And people are like “Oh, just like, focus on yourself” And I have a son too so they say “focus on your son”. And you can’t when you don’t know how to, it’s just really overtakes your mind. So showing up like that… I’m not proud knowing that I wasn’t showing up even in the relationship how I wanted to show up. And then getting really bad with breakups, like, so bad; depressed, not wanting to get out of bed, so anxious. And there’s like a normalcy, like, yes it’s normal to be sad, but this was like extreme where it was like, couldn’t go into work for a while, and just too much, right. And I was like this isn’t working, and I kind of knew it was me, which made it worse, cause you’re thinking what’s wrong with me and part of you is like, “I think there is something wrong with me” until I knew it was really that I was anxious attached. And once I knew that, I was able to figure out oh, this is why I’m like this. Now I can do something about it.

Hayley Stanton  6:27

Yeah. Okay, let’s dive into what the attachment styles are then, what does this mean? I think it’s really new to a lot of people.

Robyn Michon  6:35

Yeah, and I just think everyone should know about them, honestly, because it really helped me go from what is wrong with me, because obviously, there was something wrong. I was like, I keep dating people, I can meet people, but the relationships are a disaster, what’s happening here?

So attachment styles are formed in childhood. They’re basically how we learn to love and what we think love is as a child. And the unfortunate part is for a lot of us, our parents, if we think about especially with women generations ago, like I think about my grandma and she was just kind of in survival mode. She looked after her children, and she looked after my mom, but the emotional needs, they weren’t met, she couldn’t; she was just trying to feed all these kids and get by basically. And then even with my mom. So my mom learned from that right and her dad that was like, men were taught to not feel at all, and that sort of thing. So she learned from that, and then they kind of pass that on to us. And so I think it’s really our, I don’t want to say our job, but we have the ability to kind of unravel some of that now. So attachment styles are mostly formed in childhood, sometimes if we’re in a relationship too, it can affect our attachment styles, and they can kind of shift. So there’s three main ones. So there’s anxious. I was super anxious and anxious people think that I need love, I need to get love, love is the most important thing. And they’re also thinking I might not be lovable at the same time. So there’s a lot of fear, right? Because we’re thinking I need love from outside people. I need love from my partner, and I’m scared he’s not gonna love me. And that fear is what creates a lot of these really undesirable behaviours, it’s what creates the intrusive thoughts, and so much energy coming to our partner that it’s causing lots of problems, lots of issues, just from not thinking I might not be lovable, and I need love from from him or from her, from the partner. So that’s anxious. And then there’s avoidant people. Avoidant people think that if they get too close, they’re gonna get hurt. So they’re the people that in their life, they might have been really hurt. Or maybe the parent just wasn’t really providing them with care. So they were kind of like, well screw it, I just don’t need anybody then. And it’s in an unhealthy way, right? Not from a sense of independence, where we’re like, “oh, I know, I can care for my needs”. But more no one’s gonna look after me. So they tend to actually pair with anxious people. So you have someone who’s like, well, if I get too close, I’m gonna get hurt. And then someone who’s like, I need to be super close, I need to be close. And they kind of do this dance, right? And they reinforce each other’s underlying beliefs. So the anxious person’s thinking I might not be lovable. And they see the avoidant person who can’t actually really love them in the way they need to be loved. So they kind of do this back and forth dance of push and pull. And a lot of people that are struggling in their relationships have those aspects. So anxious is always talking about the relationship overcommunicating and the avoidant is the one that like shuts down, won’t talk about, will often leave. Often it’s male avoidant and female anxious but it’s both ways.

Hayley Stanton  10:01

Okay. And you mentioned there is a third as well?

Robyn Michon  10:04

Yeah, some people can be a mix of anxious and avoidant. And both of those are insecure. So both anxious and avoidance. We sometimes in society think it’s like better to be avoidant because it’s more independent, but both of them are actually worried they might not be lovable, right? The avoidant person’s like, I’m just gonna get hurt.

So the other side of that is a secure attached person. And they’re not thinking about relationships that often because there’s so much stability, they just know they’re loved, and not necessarily by their person, by their partner all the time. But they know that they’re loved. They’re like, I know I can meet my needs. I know there are people in the world who loved me. So that allows them to, if they’re with a partner that’s not a good fit, instead of chasing them like the anxious person would do, they’ll just move away from them. They’ll just be like, Oh, it’s not a good fit, okay, and have a really healthy breakup. Still sad, but a healthy breakup. And they’ll be able to make things work a lot easier to because they’re not coming from that really anxious energy. So secure people are basically thinking I know I’m loved. I know. I’m lovable.

Hayley Stanton  11:14

And that’s the ideal, isn’t it? I think from your description, I was probably a mix of anxious and avoidant. And I can visualise myself pulling towards a relationship really wanting this, being really desperate for it, you know, sending the lots of texts and stuff. And then at the same time completely sabotaging any chance I had of that relationship, because I was so afraid that they were going to realise that I wasn’t lovable. And then I was gonna get dumped. So the real push pull dance going on there.

Robyn Michon  11:45

Yeah. We feel like we just sabotage it. And it’s so easy to get into that place. Like we’re already thinking, we’re unlovable, and then we actually create evidence for it in our life by doing this push pull thing where we actually create that, like, they’re not loving me. And that was the hardest thing, right? Having people say I can’t make you happy; this isn’t working, when you’re just so desperate for the love, and you’re scared that you’re gonna get hurt. And when that happens, it can be so hard, right? Especially if you’re already thinking we’re not lovable.

Hayley Stanton  12:26

Yeah exactly. I’ve had conversations with people that I was doing this relationship dance with in the past, and they were like, I thought you just didn’t like me. And I was like, No, I was really into you. I just avoided that connection.

Robyn Michon  12:42

Yes. When they don’t know. And I find the anxious people tend to be really serial daters.  I was really highly anxious. And now I’m a little bit more avoidant sometimes. But the avoiders sometimes I find, they just won’t date at all. Because they’ll push it away, right? And they’ll end up being single and sort of be like, well, there’s no good guys. It makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us. Yeah, that was the biggest thing when we don’t know you’re avoidant. It’s like, oh, it makes sense. I’m scared of getting close. So the second I start to like him, I’ll do weird things here. Yeah.

Hayley Stanton  13:29

Yeah, exactly. When you think about what we’ve gone through in the past, and how we have maybe come to develop these ways of behaving and responding. It makes total sense when I think about my childhood and how it has kind of played out in relationships over my life. And even in friendships. Do you think that this applies to friendships as well?

Robyn Michon  13:50

Yes. Like a definitive yes. It actually shows up in all of our relationships in different ways. It’s funny, because actually, like anxious in the work environment, the people that I work with are often pretty successful at work, they might not think that but on the outside, you’d be like, they’re pretty successful. Because that anxious is a lot of people pleasing. And in the workplace, they’ll like overwork, and they’ll like figure out your exact needs, and so it kind of almost works for them in the workplace. It doesn’t feel as good for them as it could, but it kind of works for them. And then when we do that, in relationships, that pushing and working hard actually pushes the person away, like relationships are more it’s a journey, right? So that kind of energy that works in the workplace doesn’t work for them. Yeah, friendships too. Same thing.

Hayley Stanton  14:46

Yeah, and when we get stuck in that people pleasing mode we can end up feeling resentful and not our most compassionate selves, and that can cause a bit of a block as well and we kind of make up stories about the other person and their intentions and we don’t realise the role that we were playing in it.

Robyn Michon  15:02

Yes. totally because we don’t know how to leave. The anxious especially doesn’t know how to leave and the avoidant too, because when we’re thinking we’re unlovable, it makes it really hard to love ourselves and to go to situations that it fits and I think have so many different friendships or work environments that I just stayed so long because I felt like, if I left, there’s something wrong with me like, I have to make it work. I shouldn’t be like this, from not really knowing how to love myself. And then yeah, turns into resentment. And it turns into friendship breakups and actual breakups and work where you’re leaving or you hate the job that’s not right. It makes life way harder.

Hayley Stanton  15:46

Yeah. And I think we’ve really just got to a stage where it’s okay, it’s acceptable to change relationships or to change our jobs. It wasn’t so long ago we were expected to stay in these things forever and ever.

Robyn Michon  15:58

Yeah, yeah. And I hear that thought a lot. I was talking about why I wish my friendships were long friendships. And I just think like, as a society, we need to question that, there’s nothing wrong with that, I have friends that I’ve known forever. But actually, that’s one of the things in relationships, too, is like, so we kind of have this expectation, that it should always be this steady in our relationships. But what really happens is there’s like ups and downs, so we’ll feel more connected, less connected, more connected, less connected. And if we don’t know how to allow for that, what happens is we will feel less connected. And then our attachment system will get activated and our brain will be like Oh, no danger. And we’ll actually disconnect even more. And they’ll cause more issues. So we have these big hills instead of just like normal rolling hills. And I think that that really helps knowing that like yeah, relationships are supposed to, disconnect and reconnect in, in friends and in romantic relationships. Totally normal to do that.

Hayley Stanton  17:03

Yeah, absolutely. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong. It’s just the way the relationships work. And partly, we make up this story that there’s something wrong and we make it into a bigger thing than it actually is.

Robyn Michon  17:16

Oh, yeah. causes so much pain, right? Cause then there’s blame there, right? Like trying to figure out, Is it my fault this didn’t work, is it their fault? Instead of just being like, oh, we’re just different, maybe a little bit. We’re just in different places, or maybe a bit disconnected. so different.

Hayley Stanton  17:33

That sounds much more accepting. You know, this is just where we are right now.

Robyn Michon  17:37

Yeah, yeah. Hard to be there sometimes. It’s like a work in a process and learning how to do that.

Hayley Stanton  17:47

Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned about getting triggered? And what do we do when we start to feel that we’re getting triggered?

Robyn Michon  17:57

Yeah. Okay. So in society, we’re taught that emotions are created by our partner, especially in romantic relationships. Right? It’s hard. I find, too, parent child relationships are really hard like that. We really think that our partner should make us happy. And in that, it’s not that you’re you shouldn’t be happy with your partner. But we kind of blame that on them. So I know when I’m feeling frustrated or disconnected, it’s really easy to think Oh, it’s my partner. It’s him. He’s doing something. So what we want to do is break that and always go to Okay, what am I thinking, in my mind, that’s creating how I’m feeling? And not from judgement, like not thinking I need to feel better. But just What am I thinking? So maybe it’s that my partner lately has been working late. So maybe he’s working late and not coming home when I think he should come home. That’s my thought, right? So he’s working late. And then I’m thinking he doesn’t care as much or I’m thinking he should be home already. Or I’m thinking he’s being disrespectful by not calling. That’s where we get our power is by looking at what’s the story I’m telling about him being later, and I think sometimes we don’t want to look at that, because it’s scary, because I have been in relationships where I just wanted to ignore the fact that they’re not as invested as me. And instead, I just tried to get them to call me more, instead of really looking at it and asking, what’s going on and bringing that power back to me. Being like, hey, what story am I telling about this? That alone will bring down the emotion because we have more control. Anxiety is because we feel out of control. And I feel out of control if I have to control him to feel better. I can’t do that. So of course I’m going to be anxious.

Hayley Stanton  19:49

Yeah, okay. That’s really interesting. That sense of trying to control someone often I don’t think we realise that we’re doing that

Robyn Michon  19:57

Yeah, my clients are wonderful, wonderful humans, and they don’t mean to control people. But they’ll just see things like, he doesn’t respect me, so he should do this to respect me. So you’re thinking in order for you to feel okay, he needs to act in a certain way. That’s control, right, and it just really comes because if I really believe that I need you to behave a certain way for me to feel okay, of course, I’m going to try to get you to behave in that way. Actually, we can end up kind of being manipulative almost, not out of ill intentions, but because I’m trying to get you to be how I want you to be with me right? Maybe I’m trying to get you to love me, then I’ll go into people pleasing, and try to tell you what you want to hear or make myself a certain way so you’ll like me. And that all comes from thinking that you create my feelings. But actually, it’s this thing over here, where it’s my story about what you’re doing that’s creating my emotion. And that’s how we can get less triggered, and bring that emotion down.

Hayley Stanton  21:03

So there is that piece around understanding the story that you’re making up, yeah? And then also, there is, I think, some self soothing to be done to create some space, right?

Robyn Michon  21:17

Yeah. And I think in relationships, too, we think that the partner can like make us feel better and give us what we need. But I do this work and I teach other people how to do it, and maybe only half the time, I actually know what I need in a moment, after all this time, so to expect someone else to know – he can’t know. Maybe he guesses it 10% of the time and that’s great. But really, if I don’t even know what I need. And sometimes, that’s why it is like it’s coming back to ourselves and thinking Okay, what, how can I help myself? What do I need right now? And maybe if I’m feeling like I want a hug from him, maybe it’s wrapping myself in a warm blanket, or like taking a bath, right? That’s why self love is so hard, but also really fascinating because sometimes I need to go have a bath, or go have a snack, or something. And sometimes I need to work on the project I’m avoiding or make a phone call or actually have the conversation in my relationship that I don’t want to have. That’s why it’s so important that we can come back to ourselves and be like, what do I need? Even in the instance of when I was saying my partner was coming home late, a lot of times we think that, Oh, I should just tell another story about that. Like, I should just be fine with him coming home late then. Or this other story where he’s being disrespectful. And it’s like, maybe there’s another place like maybe I just need to talk to him about it from not like accusing, but just like, Hey, what’s up? Are you feeling less engaged? What’s going on?

Hayley Stanton  22:55

Yeah, that’s so good. I think one of the most impactful things that I’ve learned is from Brene Brown, is where she talks about using the phrase “the story I’m making up…”

Robyn Michon  23:06

Oh, yeah, yeah. And I think she talks about that with her partner that she’s talking about, like, “I’m thinking it means this this…” and checking. And it’s so different, because then you’re checking it. You know, what to I love about that is that we’re scared to do that. I think sometimes, because we think we know how our partner might respond, sometimes it surprises us. But we really get to know our partner, like when I’m coming like that to him saying I’m telling myself you’re less engaged in the relationship and I’m feeling like unsure, I get to see his response and I learned a lot about him. With my partner, he was like, Oh, no, I think about you all day long, I just think in my head, and I don’t actually call you. Or he’s actually been really overwhelmed with like homeschooling his son, and all that stuff. But sometimes I’ve had partners in the past where the response wasn’t good. You know what I mean? It was like, oh, whatever, I can work later you don’t prioritise my work. And like, sometimes we need to hear that because sometimes it’s a reflection of how we’re coming to them. And sometimes it’s like, oh, I’m actually right, this isn’t working. I actually don’t want to be in relationship with someone who responds in this way, which can also be the case sometimes, when we’re really aware of how we’re coming to the relationship.

Hayley Stanton  24:25

Yeah, for sure. Sometimes, it’s really hard to know if you are in the right relationship, or if you’re at stage where you need to walk away, especially if you doubt yourself, you may be disconnected with your intuition. So what do you say about that?

Robyn Michon  24:41

Yeah, okay. So the first thing I would always say is we sometimes we get caught up because we think that there’s a right answer and we get really scared like, if I leave this relationship, I might not find another one. This might have been the person. That fear can keep us from leaving it, but I really believe that there’s lots of people out there that we could have a great relationship with. And I believe that I’m the one that creates the relationship. I’ve really cultivated that belief that I can create great relationships. So then it’s not as dependent on that other person. So that makes it a bit easier, right? And learning how to have your own back, if you decide to leave something, it’s okay, if you look back, and you’re like, oh, that could have worked if I’d done XYZ, but I didn’t know how to do that then, It’s okay. It’s okay to leave to learn. If you’re really unsure, and you leave at least you’ll be a bit more ahead than just staying and being unsure. So making it okay, and that’s back to what we were saying about relationships don’t have to last forever.

Hayley Stanton  25:46

Yeah. Okay. That’s a really lovely reframe. It’s all about learning and that relationship is a container for you to grow in. It’s not necessarily something that you need to stay in, right?

Robyn Michon  25:58

Yeah, totally. And then when we have that, when we’re not coming from the fear of thinking I have to stay to make this work. It sometimes just opens up that, when we think we have to stay, that’s where we don’t want to stay. But sometimes when we let go of that we actually do want to stay maybe, and maybe there’s just like a couple things we can work on. And that’s where I would hire a coach. For me, if I was thinking about ending a relationship, I would hire a coach either way, because maybe there are things that I’m doing. So often, I have clients and they’re like, you know what, my partner is getting defensive and shutting down. I don’t know why, I’m not judging him, and then we unravel it. And there are some judgments, they love their partner, but there are some judgments happening. And when we let some of those go, sometimes the issues are gone, then the partner stops getting defensive. And sometimes it’s not that. Sometimes it is just you’re with someone that’s really defensive that doesn’t want to work on themselves right? Figuring out and either way you learn like, I really do think that it’s just about learning like that. I think that’s why we’re here, right?

Hayley Stanton  27:02

I agree. I agree, absolutely. And I think that a lot of the time, we’re responding in relationships, not necessarily to what’s happening in the moment, but to things that have happened in our past; the relationships that we’ve had with our parents, and certainly this is what I’ve taken away from relationship counselling myself.

Robyn Michon  27:23

Yeah, totally, it’s just all of that story is just there from growing up and from childhood. And I find you learn so much about yourself. And this is what I love about relationships is just that I learned so much about myself from all these different people I interact with, and when something really triggers me, it’s so interesting to see why. Is it just that I’m actually not setting a boundary and I don’t want to be treated this way? Is it my own insecurity that it’s bringing up? What’s going on?

Hayley Stanton  27:55

Yeah. So you mentioned boundaries. And when we are feeling this anxiety, we’re much more prone to people pleasing and putting other people’s needs or what we think their needs are before our own. So can you talk to us a bit more about boundaries?

Robyn Michon  28:12

Yeah. So I think about it in terms of emotional boundaries. So back to what I was saying about I am responsible in my little like, human container, I’m responsible for the story I tell, which creates how I’m feeling right? If I’m telling a really scary story, I feel anxious. And I’m responsible for my actions. And my partner is also responsible, he’s responsible for his story, which creates his feelings and his actions. And we don’t set boundaries when we get confused about that. So for him, I’m just like a situation that he tells a story about, and we think that we can control the story that he tells by the way that I show up and we can’t. We can maybe influence it. But you know what, even then I think about the example of like, if I start yelling at him when he comes home, I actually don’t know how he’ll feel. I know him well enough to know he probably tell a story that he did something wrong and feel bad. Because that’s his default from his patterns. Someone else might be like, she’s being a horrible human being and yell back at me. It’s the same way I’m showing up. And if I’m yelling, right, so they really get to determine it and that’s where the boundaries come. Because if I can’t control how he feels, and if I could control how he feels or if I could control how everyone felt like my clients would always be happy. I’d always be happy. He’d always be wanting to work on house projects, you know,

Hayley Stanton  29:43

We wouldn’t learn very much.

Robyn Michon  29:45

No. Yeah, that’s that’s so true. Right? It’d be kind of boring. I think like we think it would be like utopian, but it wouldn’t.

Hayley Stanton  29:54

I found that the growth is in the discomfort and in my own coaching sessions, it’s those times when I’m feeling really uncomfortable when I might be crying, and even with some of my clients, those are the most transformational coaching sessions for me.

Robyn Michon  30:09

Yeah. Okay, I think we should talk about that. So that’s from how we interact with emotions. Because I wouldn’t have known this before. So if I was crying, and I was sad, it was like I had this added judgement of it’s horrible, right? There’s something going wrong. I shouldn’t be feeling anxious. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. And now, if we don’t have that judgement, and we just have the feeling like you were saying, it’s kind of beautiful. Yeah, like it really is, like, almost enjoyable in a weird way.

Hayley Stanton  30:44

Yeah, yeah. It feels like growth. It feels like a relief, like learning.

Robyn Michon  30:50

Yeah, it’s a release sometimes if I’m crying. Yeah. I love that. And that comes from not judging the feeling in the first place. It’s that extra layer of “I shouldn’t be feeling like this” is what really hurts, and sometimes it’s okay, if we don’t like how we feel. I know with high anxiety, I don’t always want to be there. But I’m a human, right. I’d rather not feel nervous. But that extra layer of like, there’s something wrong with me because I feel nervous is what makes it where we’re interacting with the emotions in a way where we’re pushing part of ourselves away and judging ourselves.

Hayley Stanton  31:24

Yeah, definitely. And I think that often, when we’re growing up, our emotions aren’t really welcome. Because  they’re inconvenient and they’re hard to deal with.

Robyn Michon  31:37

Yeah. Totally. That’s exactly it. Even after all the healing I’ve done, sometimes interacting with my mom, it’s like, oh, yeah, obviously, this is where this came from, like seeing it as an adult. And yeah, when we don’t know how to manage our own emotions, we put that on someone else. So what happens is even in the relationship, I’m feeling really anxious, and maybe my partner is pulling away, because he’s stressed, if I can’t handle my own emotions, I don’t give him the space to feel how he wants to feel. Because I’m sort of like, you have to feel better, you have to love me, I can’t handle this, you need to show that you care. And it’s not giving him space to maybe pull away for a little bit. Maybe he’s questioning for some reason, or maybe he’s just really focused on work or whatever. So when we can’t manage our own emotions, we don’t allow other people to feel their emotions, either.

Hayley Stanton  32:32

Yeah. For me, often my partner pulls away and my kind of go to response I can feel it is, is to feel rejected and there must be something wrong with me. And then I have to take that time to breathe through it, you know, deal with that thought that might not even consciously be in my head, but it’s there somewhere, the a sense of rejection, and put it into perspective, and then go and have a conversation after he’s done his self-soothing separately, and I’ve done my self-soothing and breathing. And then we’re in a more balanced state for a conversation.

Robyn Michon  33:11

Yeah. And then you can actually talk. I find too that sometimes, because I was really anxious before, I actually wouldn’t need to talk about it once I came down. I found that with emotions, too. Sometimes. It’s like, I think in the moment, the anxiety sort of tells me, fix it, fix it, fix it. And then once it’s gone, it’s sort of like, Oh, it’s fine. Like, not where you’re ignoring something that’s there, right. But it’s sometimes it’s like, oh, I know that was because he had a big thing at work. I know that’s maybe why he didn’t say goodbye or something.

Hayley Stanton  33:46

Yeah, so sometimes the story that we’re making up doesn’t match reality. And when we give ourselves that space, we can figure that out for ourselves without even having that conversation. Because sometimes we have that conversation, too.

Robyn Michon  33:58

Yeah, I love how you said that what it is, when the story doesn’t match reality, because the emotion is so strong. And then when we bring the emotion down, it’s like we can start to see that. That’s true, people so often ask in relationships, well, what do I do? What do I say? And it’s not about that. It’s about how are you feeling? What’s going on with your emotions and not that they shouldn’t be there. They’re a guideposts too, I think. Like you were saying sometimes you need to have a conversation, like if he’s always pulling away or something. And it can be so loving for them to just check in and be like, Oh, how are you feeling? Okay, like what’s going on with you? I think we forget about that sometimes in relationships that it’s really loving for us to check in when we’re noticing things and that’s the most loving act, I think checking in with them.

Hayley Stanton  34:48

Oh, that’s so lovely. Yeah. I suppose the more that we do that with our partners, the more they see that they can do that with us as well, and do it in a loving way rather than feeling like they’re being accused of something or pushed to something.

Robyn Michon  35:03

Yeah, that’s what I love about relationships. We kind of teach each other how to love each other better. We can. We can also do the opposite where we’re teaching each other how to like, not feel and like your feelings aren’t okay, but we can sort of show him that. And then as he’s learning that, he’s showing me that and it’s like, we just keep growing. Yeah. And that’s what I like, too, is like, people think, too, that both people need to go and get help, like, go to get a coach or get a counsellor. And you really don’t like one person changing, it really will change the dynamic of that relationship. And you’ll see either your partner will like kind of step up and learn. Or you’ll see that like, Oh, it’s not a fit, like I’m wanting to grow in this way. And maybe they’re not, but more often than not, they’ll shift. That’s what I’ve seen.

Hayley Stanton  35:47

Yeah, I think for me, I went and got coaching and different coach training, and I know that my partner found that really hard to see that growth in me. Because when we got together, we were very, very similar. Both very insecure. And as I grew and grew in my own sense of security he felt even more insecure in that because he thought that that meant that I was going to leave him and it took her a few years to get on more stable ground again.

Robyn Michon  36:21

Yeah. Oh, I yeah. I love that. You said that, too, that sometimes like our changes, even if they’re healthy, they can feel like a threat to the relationship to the partner. And it’s so important to give that space. I think with boundaries, too, that one of the things is like when we start being like, Oh, no, I actually don’t want to be treated like this, this is what I need, and we set boundaries, it’s really normal for people to actually get a little bit angry or upset, because we’ve been one way for a long time. And now they’re like, What is going on? It’s kind of a normal reaction, a little bit of that, right? And you gave it time. This isn’t a one week thing. This is gonna take a while, right?

I really love that. So tell me what you’d like to share with our listeners now.

Oh, I think how do you fix it? So when you recognise this in yourself and, I knew for me, I’d just gone through too many guys. Like that sounds awful but really, I’m like, Hey, I think it’s me. You know, either I keep dating these guys that won’t commit, which is part of what was happening, or something about me. So what do you do, and we kind of talked about that a little bit with the emotions and the self-regulation, but with the attachment style, so the anxious and avoidant, you can learn to be secure, like you were just saying, like you actually can learn to be secure. And one of the myths because it actually does help to have a secure partner if you’re a little bit anxious or avoidant, because they’ll kind of teach you. But for me, I found that I needed to learn how to come back to that myself, how to be secure, and how to not feel insecure. And that allowed me to then find a partner that also was mostly secure too. And I could really do that within myself, instead of having to rely on that outside person. I really wanted to just feel secure, like, I don’t want to have to worry they’re gonna leave or anything, right. I want to just know that I love myself and how to love myself, and really letting go of that idea that we need a relationship to be happy.

Hayley Stanton  38:31

What’s the process to get from feeling anxious or avoidant to feeling secure?

Robyn Michon  38:39

Yeah, so for me, I needed a coach. I was so in my head and what I thought I needed. It’s so easy to read Relationship Advice online, and we’ll take it the wrong way sometimes, right? Like, some of my clients are working way too hard in their relationships, and it is too much of a struggle. And then they’ll read a quote that’s like, oh, anything worth it is worth working on or something. And it’s like, yes, but not great in your case, right? Or like, there’s always a thing in relationships to communicate more. And it’s like me, a lot of my people need to go and chill for a little bit before you keep talking because you’re coming from so much anxiety that that’s making it worse, we need to stop communicating so much. Which sounds total opposite. So I really think like having a coach and having someone outside of you that can start to see those thoughts and teach you like how to coach yourself right. And that’s what you found in yours. So for me, one of the biggest things that I learned that really helped me was that thoughts are what creates our feelings. So he can be doing whatever he wants over here. It’s really that story I’m telling that’s creating this emotional mess that I’m having, and not to blame myself for that right but just like a thought creates a time and then thoughts aren’t facts. So those stories seem so real. So, so real, right? Like, there’s something wrong with me or like he’s going to leave or like, he should respect me more, they seem so real, and we can find so much evidence for them. But when we think that thought, it creates these feelings that create this results in these actions, and it’s really, really optional. That’s the biggest thing for me is like, just because a thought pops into my head, I don’t have to go down that train, I don’t have to overthink it. It’s just a thought. It’s almost like I think about my brain as being like two people kind of. There’s the inner me side, and then the human side. And the human side is almost like someone in a room just coming in and like telling you stuff, you don’t have to believe everything you read on the internet, or everything this person says, it’s the same in your own brain. And for me, that’s helped me so much like, just because I think a thought he doesn’t mean anything. It’s just like someone else coming in and having an opinion, that’s just kind of popping in.

Robyn Michon

shifts, you know, anything worth it is worth working on or something? And it’s like, yes, but great in your case. No, right? Or like, there’s always a thing in relationships to communicate more. And it’s like more of my people need to like, No, you need to go and chill for a little bit before you keep talking. Like, where you’re coming from so much anxiety that that’s making it worse, we need to stop communicating so much, which sounds total opposite. So I really think like having a coach and having someone outside of you that can kind of start to see those thoughts and teach you like how to kind of coach yourself, right. And that’s what you found in your Yeah, absolutely. So for me, one of the biggest things that I learned that really helped me was that k thoughts are what creates our feelings. So he can be doing whatever he wants over here. It’s really that story I’m telling that’s creating this emotional mess, but I’m having and not to blame myself for that, right. But just like a thought creates a time. And then bots aren’t facts. So those stories seem so real. So, so real, right? Like, there’s something wrong with me, or like he’s going to leave or like, he should respect me more. They seem so real, and we can find so much evidence for them. But when we think that thought it creates these feelings that create this resolve in these actions, and those we can, it’s really, really optional. That’s the biggest thing for me is like, just because a thought pops into my head, I don’t have to go down that train. Like I don’t have to overthink it. It’s just a thought. It’s almost like I think about my brain is like being like two people kind of right. There’s like, the like inner knee side, and then the admin side. And the human side is almost like someone in a room just coming in and like telling you stuff, you don’t have to believe everything you read on the internet or everything this person says it’s the same in your own brain. And for me, that’s helped me so much like, just because I think a thought it doesn’t mean anything. Like it’s just like someone else coming in and saying and having an opinion, that’s just kind of pop in.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, that was one of the biggest learnings for me, you can’t trust everything that you think. And you use that word ‘should’ in there as well. I think we hear this all the time or we say this all the time when we’re talking about our relationships and what we think other people should do and how we think we should act. And I found what another key thing is to really change that ‘should’ and try and take out a month vocabulary, because I don’t think it’s helpful. There’s no shared in relationships. There’s nothing that my partner should do. There’s nothing that I really should do. And it’s you know, it’s a matter of what feels good. What could we do?

Robyn Michon

Yeah, yeah. And even, like, should just feels bad, it just creates this obligation and it’s not good. And yeah, I love it, I think that’s a good place to, like, you really can do whatever you want in relationships, even way back before we had to get married as women for financial reasons. And now it’s been a little bit and we really can do whatever we want. Like you could choose to not have a relationship, you could choose to, have one and have two kids and be married forever. You could choose to just date. You really get to choose and that can almost be hard. It’s almost easier for our brain to be like, well, this is what we’re supposed to do, instead of really like getting to know ourselves and being like, What do I want? What would be cool for me to do?

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, I think because because of our upbringings, as well, we often get very disconnected from our inner selves, our intuition, and it’s hard to know what we do want, we’ve kind of been living to please other people and to be accepted and try to fit in. So there’s a sense of having to reconnect with our inner selves before before we even can figure that out.

Robyn Michon

Yeah, and that too, is another huge shift. If you’re anxious, or you’re avoidant, too, you’ll notice that a lot of the thoughts are about what is it that other person wants. And what’s going on with them? And what are they thinking? And we really want is to shift it back to, What do I want? How am I feeling in this relationship? And that’s where the power comes from. Anxiety is really created by thinking we need to control outside things and worrying that we can’t control them because we can’t control them. We can’t control what they do. Instead of coming back to self when I feel way less anxious when it’s like, oh, what do I want so different? And like you said too, for me it’s to work on that. It’s actually hard for me to dream sometimes because I just didn’t do it for so long and kind of cultivating that.

Hayley Stanton

So what do you think about this idea that you need to love yourself before you can be loved?

Robyn Michon

Okay. So I think that it’s a process so I think of love as an feeling in a moment. So how we talked about like the story being told creates how we feel. It’s the same with feeling love, that’s one of the best ways for me to think about it; it’s like I feel loved in a moment when I’m thinking like, Oh, I love myself. But if I just go and don’t have relationships in my life and sit in my room, I could cultivate that. But I also need to learn how to be in relationship with people. So I don’t think that it’s useful to think that we shouldn’t date or that we just need to, like, go into a room and not do things and just love ourselves first, it doesn’t work like that. And for me, some of the most powerful moments when I really felt self-love was from being in relationship with people. And maybe offering something that I felt shameful about and being really received and accepted. Like, those are my deepest moments of love. And those moments of love really helped me learn how to do that with myself. I was doing that a little bit enough to know, Oh, yeah, this is someone I can share this with, I think it seems safe, emotionally safe. And then their response, just levels that up even more. So I really think it’s a journey rather than, like, love yourself and get into the relationship. It doesn’t work like that. It’s a constant back and forth. Right? That we’re two people. And then too feeling like, this doesn’t feel like love has also been useful for me. Like sharing a similar thing with two people and seeing the responses and like, Oh, that’s love. And that’s not love. Like the other one, right? So useful.

Hayley Stanton

Oh can you talk to us a bit more about that?

Yeah, you know, when I started because it’s a journey, so like, at different points in the journey, right, I started to realise, I started to respond better to myself and accept myself more. And when I was doing that, in my own mind, when someone else didn’t do that. I noticed it and it wasn’t personal. But I was just like, Oh, I don’t want to be around this. I don’t want to be around this judgement, or this shame, or just the negative reaction. And that’s where we’ll move away then right? And not where there’s anything wrong with that person. And it’s not in this way of gotta cut them out because they’re negative. But just like, oh, that doesn’t feel like love. And I think that’s emotional safety, too. One of the things I did when I was really anxious is sometimes we’ll overshare to try to create connection. And maybe you know, those overshares will tell you something, and you’re like, why did they share that with me like this relationship isn’t there, where did that come from? And really learning how to do that. And then seeing like, little bits, right, like, we share a little bit and we see their response. And we share a little bit and we see their response. And then moving away when that when it doesn’t feel good.

And again, that comes back to those boundaries, and how much you’re willing to share with other people and how much you’re willing to accept. And like you said, what doesn’t feel good? That’s a real sign that there’s a need for boundaries to be put in place.

Robyn Michon

Yeah, yeah. And I think when we can come back to ourselves, and when we’re speaking… the thing is, we don’t notice it doesn’t feel good when it feels so bad in our head all the time. I guess I’m always beating myself up and thinking like, I shouldn’t have done that. And then you’re like, Oh, you shouldn’t have done that. It doesn’t feel different, because I’ve already been doing that to myself. But if I’ve been creating that relationship with myself where I’m really loving and unconditional and accepting, and trying to help myself too, then if you say something like that, I’m like, Oh, no, that’s about you. You know what I mean?

Hayley Stanton

Yeah. I feel I’m hearing a lot of the need for vulnerability coming up in this conversation. And I think that a lot of us will kind of shut down or put a mask on and to hide certain parts of ourselves in order to try and be accepted and loved. And it’s really about self-protection. So how do we move out of that? Because obviously, we need to move through that to have that true connection with someone.

Robyn Michon

Yeah. And when you say that the times that I felt the most love is when I have been sharing something that you know, I wasn’t loving about myself, that I was feeling bad about and someone else really being like, Oh, no, you’re okay, this is fine. So actually the therapeutic relationship, a coach-client relationship is actually a really good place to start learning how to do that because it is really safe and, like you, as coaches were trained in not judging and in holding space, and it helped me know there’s a difference between like being indulgent and there’s something wrong with me, and then also helping you kind of move along to and how can you help yourself? I would say, honestly, for me, that was the big thing is is that was kind of my first real experience of like, Oh, this is what it feels like to not be judged and to like, not have someone else putting their emotions on me. And then from that experience, you sort of start to create friendships like that, too. Or maybe in your romantic relationship too, for me it was for some friendships. So that yeah, that’s how I would do it, honestly.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, I think one of the big learnings for me was feeling or recognising that I was keeping myself in this kind of victim space, I really felt like I was being attacked, or like I was getting things wrong all the time. And I realised that the way that I was thinking the way I was talking about myself was keeping me in that space.

Robyn Michon

Yeah, totally. And you know, what I think, like our brains, like duality, and so it’s either like, we go to victim or blame. So there’s either something wrong with them or me. And like, that’s why we would blame someone else. Or think we’re a victim, because the alternative to that is, oh, there’s something wrong with me. That’s just too painful. And so that’s why someone, like you said, catching the language. And so often, it’s really subtle, that you won’t catch it and for me, I had friends around me that were supportive. But they weren’t trained, they didn’t understand relationships, like they just, you know, their relationship was just great. And it always been great. And they’d worked on it. But like, they didn’t know. And I think sometimes we’re using our friends. Our our support system is meant for support. It’s not meant to coach us. And you know, that’s those are very different things.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah. And we get so much advice from our friends that is well meaning but not good. Because they’re not in our shoes. They don’t actually know the situation. They don’t know us better than we know ourselves. And yet often we outsource this kind of decision making to other people.

Robyn Michon

Oh, yeah. And that’s part of the problem. Like that’s part of our habitual like, I don’t know, that’s my It was one of my big things I don’t know. So I have to, like ask everyone else. But as a coach, it’s like, that’s our job is not like, I don’t tell the person what to do. Like, I don’t know if they should leave or stay. But I can help them figure that out from really like an unbiased side and really helping them see like, it sounds like you’re saying this to me? What’s going on here? Yeah, and just being outside of it, too.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, I really think coaching is absolutely invaluable. And just the best thing for relationships and friendships all around

Robyn Michon

Yeah and for me as a human, I just am so grateful that I found it. Right. Wow. Like it was hard before. And this is much easier now that you have the tools, right?

Hayley Stanton

That’s so brilliant that you stumbled across it with a completely different intention as well.

Robyn Michon

Yeah. Totally to win the guy back. None of this, like, oh, self love. It’s like, No, I just want to win him back. And then I ended up a totally different place, right?

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, of course you did. So if you could look back and give your younger self some advice, what would you be sharing with her now?

Robyn Michon

I would just be really proud that she kept trying and kept looking. Because for me, it wasn’t like, Oh, I have a problem. I’m gonna hire a coacha and it was fixed. It was years, like probably from when I was 15 to 28. And just kept trying and trying and trying. And I think that that’s the really big thing is like, being willing to just try, to call someone set up that appointment, see if it’s a fit. And if that doesn’t work, call someone else. Because it’s just such a journey, right? And you need the different pieces, right? And you need to get feeling better, and figure out the tools and be applying them. So I would just tell her Oh, good job, really, just keep going. You’re gonna figure it out. That’s what she needed. When I think about myself at my worst. That’s what really did keep me going. I was like, I know, I can’t live like this, I just don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s too painful. I don’t like this. And that you can figure it out, like, as long as you keep going.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah, it’s having that sense of hope. And for me, it was such a long journey, trying to deal with the social anxiety figure out what was happening for a start. It took well well over a decade to get to a place where I could actually comfortably speak to people and it involved coaching and a bit of counselling and reading lots of books and taking courses and there was so much involved in it that, you know, I think we just have to be really compassionate with ourselves and patient and allow ourselves to take some more steps and learn a little bit and then we’ll go over and we’ll re-learn and learn something deeper.

Robyn Michon

Yeah, totally. And like it’s still a journey, right. But it’s way easier having the tools like, it took me a really long time to find something that really worked for me. And that made sense. Even then, you probably have this too, where I definitely have moments because it’s like cognitive dissonance, where your mind is like, this new idea is so different from the old idea. I almost feel like I might be crazy. Because it’s so weird. And you need some of those moments, right? And to just trust. And if you’re relating to where we both started, and listening, it’s like, you can get to that other side. And I needed someone that was like standing on the other side being like, it’s okay. I know that this is scary. We’re gonna be okay, right?

Hayley Stanton

Yeah. So what are some of your favourite tools to share with people so people can go and have a little look?

Robyn Michon

I love Byron Katie’s four questions. She talks about Is this true? Can I know it’s true? How do I show up? She has lots of videos on YouTube. That was one of my favourites. I also like Abraham Hicks stuff it’s a little bit woowoo for my style, I’m very logic based. But it’s very calming. She’s very like, the universe is like there to protect you and very calming. So when I was highly anxious, I would listen to that. And then I like the Life Coach School is where I did my coach training through. And it’s just so logic base that my brain likes it. It gets me out of the overthinking. It’s like, What’s your story? What’s the feeling? What result is that creating and it’s just so streamlining logic, so it kind of depends. That’s like giving yourself what you need. Right? Like, sometimes I needed to feel like a hug. And sometimes it was like, no, we need to figure this out now.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah. Cool. Thank you so much. Where can people find you?

Robyn Michon

Yeah, so on Instagram is where I have most of my stuff. So it’s @relationshipanxietycoach, and I have lots of videos on there and posts.

Hayley Stanton

Yeah. And your videos are brilliant. I recommend everyone go and check out your Instagram page. And we’ll post the links on the show notes for this episode as well.

Robyn Michon

Perfect. Oh this has been so great.

Hayley Stanton

It’s been lovely chatting with you. Thank you.

Robyn Michon

Yeah, thank you.

Hayley Stanton

Thank you for listening. Remember if you also feel like you need support beyond that of your friends, we do offer a supportive free quiet community, as well as professional coaching. Head over to www.quietconnections.co.uk for more information. And I look forward to you joining us on the podcast again next time. Until then, stay connected.

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