#32: How to Reduce Reassurance Seeking Behaviors

Welcome back, everyone!

Welcome back to the Series on Problematic Anxiety-Related Behaviors.

Today, we are talking about Mindfulness-based tools to help with Reassurance Seeking.

For those of you who don’t think this topic applies to you, stick around a little.  You might find that you are employing this behavior, even in slight and tricky ways.

As mentioned in the last episode, there are behaviors that you can reduce, which will result in better outcomes when it comes to anxiety.   Last Week we discussed Avoidance and how this compulsion only makes fear worse.   This week, as we mentioned, we are discussing Reassurance Seeking Compulsions.

So, What is Reassurance Seeking?

Before I give a definition, let me give you some examples and you can see if you resonate with any of these.

Am I doing this right? (Common in Perfectionism)

Did you turn off the stove? Did I turn off the…….. (Common in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Are you sure everything will be ok?

Do I look ok? (Common in Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Eating Disorders)

You still love me, right?

Do you think I will fail this test? (Common in Perfectionism)

Do you think I hurt their feelings?

Do you think they are mad at me?

Do you think I could get sick? (Common in Health Anxiety and Contamination OCD)

Did I hurt someone?  Could I hurt someone?  (Common in Harm OCD)

Don’t get me wrong.  These are questions that I would consider “appropriate” questions.

However, the problem lies in their frequency and intention.

If you find yourself asking questions repetitively, or you find yourself asking these questions when you know they don’t have the solution/answer, it is probably Reassurance Seeking.

Also, if you find yourself asking these questions when you could be finding the solution yourself, this could be Reassurance Seeking.

And lastly, if you find yourself attempting to find certainty in a situation where there is little to NO certainty, this podcast is for you!

Reassurance Seeking is an action of removing someone’s doubts or fears. Reassurance seeking is very common (and problematic) behavior in Anxiety Disorders such as OCD, phobias, panic disorder, Generalize Anxiety Disorder.  It is also common in Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Eating Disorders.

That being said, it applies to us all, in our management of our own anxiety.

The goal is to recognize that we must not reach outside ourselves to remove our doubts and fears.   

Drawing other into our anxiety usually only makes it messier and creates a dynamic where you feel reliant on them to manage your anxiety.   

Also, Reassurance Seeking complicates relationships and can backfire.  People may not give you the response you were looking for and cause you to have even more anxiety.

Often clients report that their partner sometimes is very supportive and answers their questions very well, but over time, then the partner gets annoyed and then it creates friction.  Does this sound familiar?

The goal is to acknowledge your own fears as they arise, either allow them to simply be there using your mindfulness skills or work through them on your own.   

Remember, treat your fears the way you want your brain to interpret them in the future.

I hope that is helpful!  Have a wonderful week.

#32: How to Reduce Reassurance Seeking Behaviors/Compulsions

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