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Living with Inundation Anxiety

How to recognize and reduce your defenses

By: Lindsay Rosser

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist #87065, Integrative Body Psychotherapist

In my training at the Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP) Institute we learned a lot about abandonment and inundation anxiety. IBP believes every human falls on the spectrum of abandonment and/or inundation injuries. Why? Because there’s no such thing as perfect attunement and as children we all end up with needs that were met and unmet by our caregivers. We develop defenses which can later create challenges in our relationships with ourselves and others. There is no cure for these anxieties but, we can learn to recognize and work with our own psychology. When we are more conscious of our patterns, we can enjoy giving and receiving love more easily. Below is a excerpt from the The Intimate Couple by Dr. Rosenberg, Ph.D., & Kitaen-Morse, Ph.D. Please enjoy learning more about how to work with inundation anxiety.


If, in your fear of inundation, you are still acting as if you are protecting yourself against excessively controlling or powerful parents, this may be causing you to be nonrelational in intimate relationships. You probably inundate yourself by your own body holding patterns and exaggerated response to people’s attempts to be close.

Inundating Situations

Keep in mind that you are not a vulnerable child and no one can control you. Common situations that may increase your sense of inundation:

  • Crowds, confined spaces like airplanes and elevators.
  • Events of duty such as graduations, weddings, funerals, and holidays. These may trigger overwhelming emotions from the past and present and may add pressure on you to live up to the expectations of others.
  • A relationship with someone who does not have good boundaries or respect for yours.
  • Working with or for someone who constantly checks up on you or criticizes your work.

Reduce Inundation

These are practical suggestions for keeping your inundation anxiety level low. Creating breathing room is most important. You are not bad for needing more.

  1. Keep your body relaxed and flexible. A tight body limits internal breathing room and makes any encroachment seem like suffocation.
  • Balance weight training with stretching, yoga, and sustaining constancy exercises (an IBP tool).
  • Recieve a massage
  • Engage in a healthy sexual relationship

2. Put your own inundating thoughts onto paper before they overwhelm you. Notice how much pressure you apply to yourself.

3. Create space for yourself; open your collar, loosen a tight belt, wear loosely fitted clothing.

4. Take a breather when things begin to feel oppressive. Provide your own transportation when you can, so that you can escape when you have had enough.

5. Don’t say yes when you mean no.

6. Remember that you have a right to be alone and to set boundaries, to shut the bathroom door, and to display your belongings and your taste somewhere in the house. You have a right to make reasonable demands for punctuality, cleanliness, neatness, quiet, and other things that are important to you.

7. You needn’t divulge your innermost secrets nor be as close as your partner wants.

As with abandonment fears, the feelings of inundation are more often imagined than real. Early detection, plus physically changing something can do wonders. Remember, too, that if you are always protecting against inundation, your unguarded backside, abandonment, will be your Achilles’ heel.

I hope this article helped you identify if you may be struggling with inundation anxiety and how to work with it. Some of us struggle more with abandonment or a mixed abandonment-inundation pattern. If so, make sure to check out my other posts. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have - I’d be happy to help.


Rosenberg, J., Kitean-Morse, B. (1996) The Intimate Couple: Reaching New Levels of Sexual Excitement Through Body Awakening and Relationship Renewal. Nashville, TN: Turner Publishing.