Tonight it feels like I’ve hit a turning point, in understanding part of why I am in a constant cycle of feeling rubbish. Tuesday evening is when I attend my regular group therapy session, to help me combat my self-esteem issues. This evening, among the many other useful bits of information that I learned, I discovered the vicious circle that can be fed by constantly seeking reassurance from others.
The general idea behind it, goes something like this:
When we are in the habit of constantly seeking another’s reassurance, we do so for many reasons. These reasons can be some or a combination of many things. From personal experience, when I ask for someone’s reassurance on whether something I am doing is right, or okay, or a good idea and I get positive feedback from that, I feel good about myself. I get an instant lift to my confidence, I’ve made a good decision, I have someone’s approval, I’ve done the right thing. Moreover, since I get such a good feeling from someone else’s opinions and thoughts, I then go on to seek more approval, until it’s an unconscious habit – I don’t even realise that I’m doing it.
The flip side of this is when I seek approval or reassurance and the response that I get, is a negative one. “Actually no, the meal you made was rubbish”,” yes your bum does look big in that”, “that was a really bad decision”, “that really looks crap on you”. When this happens, that high-spirited mood that I was feeling, is sent crashing back down into the depths of oblivion. I now feel like a pile of worthless doggy doo doo.
It begs the question really of “Is this really a reliable way to boost my self-esteem?”
If one minute I’m on a high because of someone else’s opinion, then the next moment I’m incredibly low because of it, then surely seeking reassurance so much, is not as good for me as I previously thought. Perhaps the person that I should be getting reassurance from is myself.
This week we’ve been set a little behavioural experiment. We are to consciously reduce the amount of time we spend, seeking reassurance from other people and make an effort to record what we discover about ourselves (and those around us). It will be interesting to see what I personally find out about myself. I’m someone who unconsciously does this multiples times a day – too many times to count actually. Will I find that making more decisions for myself, without the input of others, will lead me to a more sustainable way of feeling good? How hard is it going to be for me to actually take the reins so-to-speak and to act on my own convictions, instead of somebody else’s?
We were given some words of advice for when we carry out this experiment. It may be that our partners/friends/family, find this change in us not to their liking. They may even wish for us to return to the old, comfortable ways that they were used to. Perhaps our reassurance seeking, gave them a boost to their own confidence and they fed off of it? In those situations, it is important for us to be consistent It is also important that those around us, give us a little room to grow, or to step back – whichever direction we’re going in. Perhaps they will need to change the way that they perceive us and accept that we are taking small steps, towards a greater goal and that greater goal is the hardest, most soul-searching, emotional things that we will ever have to do.
Onwards and upwards my friends.
What do you think about our habits of seeking reassurance from our nearest and dearest? Do you find it sometimes detrimental? Have you ever made the decision to reduce the amount of reassurance you seek? If so, what did you discover about yourself?