What are you really seeking?
Reassurance seeking is a technique that everyone, as perceptive humans, partakes in from time to time. Attaining the reassurance we seek puts the attention on us and makes us feel better about ourselves. Although it can be normal, persistently seeking reassurance is not healthy.
The way someone seeks reassurance can come in verbal or nonverbal forms. Asking questions like “am I pretty?” or “do you like spending time with me?” are direct, verbal ways of seeking reassurance. Wanting someone to look at you a certain kind of way or using how close someone is sitting to you or how often they smile to gauge how much they care about you are common nonverbal ways of reassurance seeking.
Seeking reassurance is most often seen in romantic relationships. In these relationships, it frequently becomes a habit to ask these reassuring questions when we feel the relationship is not as solid as we’d like it to be. Reassurance seeking is unpleasant and can easily be avoided by replacing questions with statements.
Instead of asking questions like “do you want to be with me?”, you can exchange the question for a statement like “I’m just not feeling secure in our relationship,” and go from there. You will create a meaningful dialogue and get more out of the conversation with a statement rather than a reassurance-seeking question.
Making statements instead of asking questions also gives you ownership of what you’re saying. You’re not putting it on the other person to just instinctively know how to answer your question. You’re owning your feelings, your emotions, and your observations. Use your words to your advantage.
When asking these kinds of questions, you are intentionally putting the other person in an unfavorable position. People are often caught off guard and aren’t sure how to properly answer your questions. Often times, they may even give a negative answer. Asking someone these uncomfortable questions leaves you open to receiving answers you won’t like; know that before engaging.
Many times, through our reassurance-seeking interactions, we are subconsciously teaching the other person how we want to be communicated with. You’re also teaching them how well you take truthful, transparent feedback, whether good or bad. Once a person gives you the answers you desire, though, these answers take on a different meaning. Many times, they lose their believability and don’t hold the same weight.
Constantly seeking reassurance from others can also damage relationships. When asking these questions, a person can feel manipulated into saying the things you want to hear instead of being honest; a basis for any healthy relationship. No one ever wants to feel controlled by someone else’s anxiety.
OCD can actually produce incessant reassurance seeking. A person suffering from this condition can attempt to seek reassurance in various forms. While this might not seem significant, this can be detrimental to someone’s anxiety and OCD. The compulsion gets a person that short term anxiety reduction, but it can, in fact, be reinforcing to the anxiety itself. The more you get that fix of anxiety reduction, the more you’re going to seek it.
When you’re feeding your anxiety with reassurance-seeking, you also leave yourself open to getting the answers you don’t want. With that comes the possibility of fixating on these unwanted answers, leaving you feeling just as anxious, if not more.
Reassurance seeking can be dealt with by asking yourself important questions. When the need to seek reassurance arises, ask yourself: “What is my intention?”, “Is this really a valid question?”, “Can I turn this into a statement instead?”, “Will I be happy with the answer I get?” If these questions don’t apply, you may consider taking your anxieties to someone else and visit a therapist.
That’s where PSYCHe comes in. Offering individual and group therapy, we take on a unique approach to therapy to get you on your right path. Let our dedicated, talented therapists work with you today. Contact us and let’s get started!