Seeking reassurance from your therapist
As a child, I was left alone to deal with my problems. I became hyper independent. That’s where the bad coping skills came from. I was 7 years old when I first cut myself. I still to this day have no clue how in the world a 7 year old tells themselves I will cut myself to feel better. Until in the last years that I realized I needed someone to talk to about my experiences, share my feelings with (my stupid feelings and emotions that I never fucking understand or know what they are) and to help me organize my emotions and their meanings. That is why I initially seeked a therapist. I wanted to understand better why I keep on having my suicidal thoughts and get help managing them so they are less invading. I only recently realized that we (my therapist and I) have created a safe place together for my thoughts, but now it is like I am doubting it again because of last session. What I somewhat understood is that: reassurance seeking leads to over explaining, over apologizing, what if and doubts which come from shame/abandonment issues.
After reading a little online, I can conclude that excessive reassurance seeking is addictive. Like any addiction, the more you do it, the more you want it. It’s an immediate relief like self harm. It is quick and relieves the anxiety that is rumbling through your head. Like self-harming, the relief does not last, and you seek it more and more. The problem with reassurance is that, in the short term, it decreases your anxiety. However, in the long term, it creates a vicious cycle that worsens your anxiety and increases your need for more reassurance. It also decreases your confidence in your ability to answer your own questions and reinforces that you are unable to tolerate the discomfort of uncertainty. How do we fix it? “By exposure and response prevention. This involves repeatedly facing the fear and choosing not to seek reassurance (i.e. not to check, measure, ask, review, and do). Exposure can be paced to slowly and purposely help the person reduce the reassurance seeking. Anxiety levels will eventually fall and the individual learns that reassurance-seeking is not needed to reduce anxiety, the feared outcome does not occur and that they have power over their thoughts and actions.” It all seems very straightforward and easy to do when you read it but emotions and feelings are mixed with all this and that is where it gets complicated. I understand I need to learn how to tolerate uncertainty. Uncertainty is not danger, its distress, it’s a feeling, and it’s not an indication of real danger in the world. I need to change how I respond to it so I no longer seek reassurance, but how do I do that when I lived in a world where no one was safe, every time I trusted someone, it literally backfired. I was either criticized, laughed at, or misunderstood. And even as I grew older, I tried trusting more, forgiving more, being more tolerant with people and they still proved my anxieties were right. My gut feelings are rarely false now. I know how to read people so I do not get hurt, so I know what to expect. The only person I have trouble reading is my therapist and it is quite anxiety provoking. I don’t know why and it’s a piss off.
Since the beginning my therapist has been telling me to trust people more, be more vulnerable with them. Part of seeking validation and reassurance is also asking for help and being courageous enough to ask for help when needed. Don't all humans do that? Why is it bad? The message that I retained from last session with my therapist is that asking for reassurance is bad and that I shouldn’t do it ever, especially with her and yet I started trusting her and being vulnerable with her. How do they expect me to be vulnerable and honest with them if sometimes involuntarily I have questions and want some reassurance? No one can be self-sufficient, even her. It’s literally impossible. Talking about my fears and insecurities is very hard for me and she knows that, but how am I supposed to do that without relying on her a little or expecting a little reassurance. It is a blessing to find people with whom we feel safe to share our vulnerability when we feel anxious or insecure. Sharing our thoughts, including our need for reassurance, builds trust and connection. How am I supposed to do one without the other? How am I supposed to be honest about my thoughts, my feelings and questions I wonder? Yes, I worry about other people’s feelings, including my therapists. I can’t help it. I do think I am a burden to everyone around me, including her even without any concrete evidence. It is a feeling so ingrained in me that I can’t shake it off because maybe I’ve been told most of my life to shut up because I talk too much and talk too loud. I know she is a human too. I know how difficult it is to remain neutral all the time, to not show your opinion. Unloading onto someone is hard for me because the only thing I’m telling myself is don’t complain too much, don’t unload too much because they will leave. Don’t talk too much or take too much space or else they will stop this. I wish I could press a button and press stop but it goes so fast. I’m starting to realize that a lot of questions and things I ask to my therapsit are a reflection of my opinion about myself as well. I have zero self-compassion, zero self-confidence and zero knowledge on knowing how to reassure myself. I look bad right now, but being honest is so much more important to me. The only way to trust people is with honesty, especially if I want to trust myself one day. #Therapy #Therapist #Anxiety #Depression #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #reassurance #Selfblame #Selfharm #SuicidalThoughts #Trust #vulnerability