Constantly Seeking Reassurance Is Out. Self Confidence Is In.
How many times a day do you find yourself flooded with self-doubt and worry? You constantly question yourself and are plagued with a pervasive feeling that you must be WRONG in every way all the time. Or maybe you’re the need-to-know-for-sure type of person, so you ask a zillion questions and take to the internet to find answers that will hopefully give you a sense of relief. Has the need for reassurance become a constant chase for you?
Well here’s a little reassurance to ease your anxiety…YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
Reassurance seeking is one of the most common behaviors for those that struggle with anxiety. Whether it's a general anxiety issue, a social anxiety problem, or something like obsessive-compulsive disorder or trauma and stress-related disorder, we see habits of reassurance-seeking as a means of coping with the incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes scary concept of uncertainty.
You may be a self-reassurer.
This could mean you frequently check and recheck things around you.
“Did I unplug my curling iron?”
“Did I make sure the doors and windows are locked?”
“Do I know where my keys and wallet are?”
It could also mean that you check and recheck what’s going on with your body like your heart rate, your weight, a skin condition, or some other symptom you’ve become aware of (a lot of time this could lead to seeking reassurance on the internet).
Self-reassurers are also the people that obsessively review conversations they have with others after the fact. Have you ever spent time looking in a mirror as you repeat what you said to make sure your facial expressions and body language looked ok? Or sat for a while going over the details of a text message to make sure you fully understand exactly what was said and also infer all of the possible unspoken details to prepare yourself for what’s coming next? Oof….it’s exhausting work.
You may seek reassurance from others.
This means you probably ask a lot of questions and request advice from the people around you before making decisions. You always want to be sure that things are ok in your relationships or that you’re doing a good job at work. Even though you are particularly gifted at anticipating different scenarios and outcomes, you still tend to need validation from someone else before you can make a move in any direction.
Here’s the Problem with Reassurance Seeking Behavior
While this may be a coping strategy for you that works as a stress reliever, the long-term impact is not great for you. It transforms quickly from just a thing you do from time to time to a thing you HAVE to do because you no longer trust yourself.
Constantly seeking reassurance erodes your self-confidence. It actually makes your anxiety worse over time! Tasks that usually take a couple of minutes become hour-long endeavors as you search for the perfect way to execute them. You might even start to feel completely stuck and immobilized when you aren’t able to get the reassurance you’ve come to need.
And let’s not forget how this impacts your relationships with others. Consider this: You ask for reassurance to make sure everything is alright between you and someone else because you genuinely care about this person and you fear losing them in your life. Initially, they are cool with it, but after some time of repeatedly doing this for you, they may become tired and irritated with it. They may start to distance themselves from you. Now it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy that just fuels your anxiety and insecurity even more. You don’t deserve this! Jump off the hamster wheel of recurring doubt, fear, and disappointment.
Therapy Can Help!
You’ll need to expose the roots if you want to overcome this behavior. That means you’ll need to build up your confidence by learning to trust yourself again. It also means you’ll have to build tolerance around the discomfort of not knowing and learn to accept imperfection. Working with a therapist can help you to tackle this from multiple perspectives.
Quitting cold turkey isn’t the best strategy, in fact, that could cause more harm than good for you. Not to mention that’s extremely difficult to do. In therapy, you’ll gain insight into all the ways that you seek reassurance and identify the least distressing ones to start with. This is a gradual process. You know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Well, trust isn’t either! It will take time and a good therapist will give you the support you need to work through the feelings that come up in a way that feels safe for you.
Safety is key because as we know this behavior was born out of a need to feel secure. In therapy, you’ll explore the history behind your self-distrust. You’ll learn to recognize the difference between seeking information and seeking reassurance. You’ll develop new strategies for problem-solving on your own. And you’ll gain confidence as you uncover the strengths that live within you and put them to use in your life.
To work with Nicole Ambrose, LCSW, give us a call today at 954-391-5305! Nicole provides counseling and EMDR Therapy in person at our beautiful Coral Springs office and online counseling through a secure platform across the state of Florida.
Nicole is dedicated to helping adults of all ages to overcome barriers that interfere with their success and happiness. She will provide the support and guidance you need to rebuild or develop self-confidence. Anxiety and stress are a part of the human experience. There are too many factors in our world to ever completely eliminate this problem, but Nicole can teach you new healthy and efficient tools to help you better manage your day-to-day life.