It’s normal to seek reassurance from time to time. Human beings function at their best when working together and surrounded by others. Everyone appreciates being told they did a good job or receiving a reminder that they’re appreciated and loved. Asking someone to review your work or for their insight on a decision you need to make is completely normal.
However, some people take reassurance-seeking too far. Reassurance-seeking is a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and goes beyond an innocent need for consolation.1 It often looks like double-, triple-, and even quadruple-checking that someone is okay, that a work email sounds professional, or that they’re safe and healthy.
You know your loved one means no harm by their need for constant reassurance, but it can feel tiresome after a while. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond to reassurance-seeking in a kind and loving way. What is the best way to handle a loved one’s reassurance-seeking?
What Is Reassurance-Seeking?
Everyone feels a need for reassurance occasionally. It eases feelings of fear and doubt surrounding uncertain situations. But sometimes, people continue seeking repeated reassurance long after the situation is clear or has played out. Their need for reassurance never passes, and it can seem like no matter how much you support or remind them that they’re okay, it’s never enough. This cycle of needing constant encouragement or consolation is called reassurance-seeking.
How to Respond to Reassurance-Seeking
Reassuring your loved ones is an important way to support them in life. However, playing into reassurance-seeking behaviors has the opposite effect. Repeated reassurance only offers temporary relief, and they’ll seek further consolation sooner rather than later. Understanding how to respond to reassurance-seeking effectively is the best way to help your loved one in the long run.
Learn to Identify Reassurance-Seeking
Start recognizing whether your loved one is asking for a simple confirmation or is reassurance-seeking. Repeated requests about the same situation or topic are a telltale sign.
Ensure They Have the Help They Need
Don’t simply leave your loved one to handle situations by themselves. Make sure they have the right tools as they learn to push back against reassurance-seeking, such as a solid mental health treatment plan, especially if they experience OCD.
Talk with Them About Ways to Point Out Reassurance-Seeking Behavior
Have a conversation with your loved one about the best ways to point out when they’re seeking reassurance. You might want to start with gentle reminders that reassurance-seeking may be at play and then move into a more firm approach.
Don’t Neglect Your Needs In the Process
Don’t forget about keeping your cup filled before trying to fill your loved one’s. You cannot provide effective support when you’re depleted. Don’t neglect your needs while trying to help your loved one; you’re far more likely to run out of patience this way.
Finding Treatment for OCD
If your loved one’s reassurance-seeking behaviors are a symptom of a greater mental health problem, seeking treatment is a good idea. You can ensure they receive proper support and care that helps them learn to trust themselves and shed the need for constant external reassurance.
Clearview Treatment Programs offers a network of care for anyone struggling with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental health conditions. We understand how difficult it can be to have a loved one living with a mental health disorder and know that you’re doing your best to support them. Helping them find a mental health program that fits their needs may be one of the most helpful things you can do.
If you’d like to learn more about the programs available at Clearview Treatment Programs, call us at 866-339-3544 or connect with us through our contact form. You’ll get the opportunity to speak with an admissions counselor who can answer your questions and help you find the right program for your loved one.
- Verywell Mind. (2021). OCD and Excessive reassurance-seeking.