One of the things that can perpetuate anxiety is receiving reassurance from others. Reassurance gives us the unconscious message that we cannot manage on our own.
I’ve been wrestling with reassurance for a while and I’ve decided to take radical action and go cold turkey: to go without reassurance all together. Part of the reason for going cold turkey is that I need to experience the anxiety in order to beat it, and if I receive reassurance I become less anxious, but addicted to receiving the OK from others. I’ve also noticed a reluctance to push myself with treatment because I am feeling so much better. My anxiety is starting to hide. The only way I can find the anxiety is by challenging myself a bit more.
What I am learning is that much of my reassurance seeking is just a habit – I don’t even need it. For example, over dinner in the evening my husband and I exchanged stories about what we’d done today. I noticed that as I told him about my day, I was wanting him to agree with me, particularly over decisions concerning my daughter’s care. Since he knows I’m going cold turkey on reassurance I had to recall parts of my day without looking at him and with him keeping a dead pan face. It made for a really stilted dinner time conversation – you certainly have to have a sense of humour about GAD sometimes! However, I’m going to keep going with the cold turkey until I can break the habit – what ever you do don’t leave a post here and reassure me that I’ll be OK!
Update in November 2011.
Just to let you know that I now thing that going cold turkey on reassurance was one of my worst ideas ever! I eventually came to see that some reassurance – talking things through before I make a decision, or having a hug after a hard day is fine. The type of reassurance that is not helpful is asking people to confirm decisions when you don’t really need their approval to know you’re doing OK.
Unhelpful reassurance only reassures you for a short time, then you need to ask for more, it also erodes confidence. Helpful reassurance does not need to be repeated and leaves you feeling loved but not less confident.