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Reassurance is a Temporary Solution for a Long-Term Problem

It has been estimated that around 284 million people in the world have experienced feelings of anxiety. A study performed in 2017 showed the range of anxiety among different countries; mostly among women. With all of this information in mind, it is not uncommon to feel anxious from time to time. It is the level of severity though, that can be troubling. 

So what is anxiety? Are there different kinds?

Anxiety is a feeling. It can be best categorized as a feeling of overwhelming fear, stress, or dread. These feelings can harbor physical distress (i.e. sweating, intense breathing, increased heart rate) as well as mental. Mental instability with anxiety is just as, if not more daunting than physical symptoms. 

There are different kinds of anxiety. Some include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder– this type of anxiety is when a person worries about daily life. Issues such as wealth, family relations, jobs, and physical well-being. 
  • Phobias– excessive fear of something that possesses no actual threat or danger. Some examples can be social phobia (a fear of social interactions), agoraphobia (a fear of places or situations due to possible embarrassment or helplessness), and Thalassophobia (fear of the ocean). 
  • Panic disorders– this is when a person will experience panic attacks.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress disorder– When a person has trouble moving on with daily life after being a part of or seeing a horrific event.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder– When a person has an excessive amount of thoughts creating an obsessive/compulsive cycle that they cannot break unless completing the task (i.e keeping surfaces clean or having objects in a certain order) 
  • Separation Anxiety disorder– Mostly seen with children; when a child becomes increasingly anxious when away from their parents. 

These types of anxiety vary in severity but all still provide stress to the person undergoing it. 

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

There is no shortage of symptoms that can arise from increased anxiety. Some to look out for though to protect others are: 

  • Restlessness or tense 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tension headaches 
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability

If you notice that you or a loved one is having a number of these symptoms on a daily basis it could be beneficial to look into strategies to help calm anxiousness. Strategies as simple as taking a walk or practicing breathing techniques can begin to combat anxiety. Some even involve simply adding humor to your situations!

What is reassurance?

Reassurance is words or statements spoken to relieve assumptions or doubts. Ranging from clarification of feelings from one person to another, to questioning whether or not a task was accomplished (i.e locking doors in the house). Anxiety escalates the worries one has explaining why reassurance would be requested. 

Why would a cycle of reassurance be a problem?

The issue with the continuation of reassurance is that it is a short-lived reliance. If a person continually seeks answers from others rather than trusting in themselves a cycle begins. If a person is not present to calm the nerves of another, then what are they to do from there? Reassurance is immediate relief rather than a solution.

That there lies the problem. The dwindling of confidence will come at a price in future decision-making. The faster the person sees that without reassurance it is possible to feel less anxious, the better off they will be long-term in dealing with their own problems. 

A stressed man looking at this laptop.
It is easy to allow stress to overcome one’s sense of judgement but it is important to keep trusting in yourself. Image courtesy of Unsplash

How to wean those who seek reassurance off their cycle

There is hope when trying to help someone you care for break the cycle of reliance. Take it step by step but take note of the following suggestions. Also, understand that there is no time span on how long it will take to break free of these urges. 

  1. Firstly you should sit down with the person affected and explain to them what is wrong with this cycle; how the short-term solution will never satisfy their needs.
  2. After discussing why there needs to be change, come up with a plan to counteract the inevitable questions of reassurance. For example, address the next concern by labeling it as a reassurance type of question, and holding back from answering it so the person must reason on their own. Do not completely ignore this person though, rather come up with a response that will remind them of what they are doing. Something like “Trust your gut, you know what is best for you,” or “I am not going to answer because you do not need my opinion.”
  3. Bring positive attention to the person affected when they eventually stop asking as many reassurance questions. This will reinforce the notion that this person is capable of taking care of their worries and that they are growing.
  4. Continue to remember that while you may not relate to needing as much reassurance as the person you care about, it is a daily struggle for them so be kind throughout the process. 
Two hands holding a paper heart.
Two hands holding one side of a heart to symbolize support. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

At the end of the day, it is normal to question yourself. You will not always be 100% correct in every situation, and it isn’t an issue to ask for advice from time to time. It is important though to simply remember that you cannot rely on others always. When you start to wean off of your cycle you will begin to realize you have all the capabilities of resolving your own problems.

Work on trust with yourself, not trusting others who may know you. No one knows what is best for you besides you. 

It is not impossible to break this cycle. Begin to build confidence in yourself.