reassurance

Relying on others for reassurance

 neonelephantintheroom said: When people rely on the reassurance of someone else it can be very dangerous for everyone involved.

realsocialskills said:

It depends a lot on the context.

I think there are different kinds of relying on others.

There’s relying on others when you know that your perceptions in some areas are unreliable:

  • If you know that you often think things are awful when they aren’t, or that you’ve done something horribly wrong when you haven’t, checking in with others who you trust to have a more reliable perspective can be a good strategy
  • You have to be careful who you trust this way
  • It has to be someone who is both trustworthy and genuinely willing to do this for you
  • And when one or both elements are missing, this can go badly wrong.
  • But this is a strategy that works really well for a lot of people, under the right circumstances

Then there’s the kind of relying on others that’s about needing universal approval:

  • Sometimes people have a self image that depends on other people constantly approving of them
  • And reassuring them that they are good and what they are doing is good
  • This gets really bad really quickly
  • And often leads to people on both sides of it manipulating each other in destructive ways, and pretty much always leads to one or the other person doing so
  • It’s important to be able to accept that not everyone will like you, and that even people who like you will not always like what you do and will be upset with you from time to time
  • People who can’t accept this cause a lot of problems for themselves and others

These things are very different, but they tend to get conflated.

feliscorvus:

realsocialskills:

Do you think that reassurance-seeking is always a bad thing? Because some of your posts seem to imply it.
realsocialskills said:
I didn’t realize my posts sounded that way, but I see what you mean now that you point it out.
This. Plus there is a kind of mode people can get into (and I know this because I have been there myself) where you feel a deep longing for reassurance, but no amount or type of reassurance actually fixes things or lets you feel okay. Which means that while the problem *looks* like a lack of validation/reassurance, there is probably something different going on. Which makes seeking more and more reassurance essentially like eating more and more ice when you’re anemic.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, that can also happen.

I’m having trouble thinking of examples of problems that can look that way, though.

Do any of y’all know of any?

skiesofpluto:

realsocialskills:

Do you think that reassurance-seeking is always a bad thing? Because some of your posts seem to imply it.
realsocialskills said:
I didn’t realize my posts sounded that way, but I see what you mean now that you point it out.
No, seeking reassurance isn’t always a bad thing. It can be really good to seek reassurance, and I think everyone needs to do that at least occasionally. If you are afraid that something is wrong, it’s ok to want to check. And it’s ok to do that with the expectation that things are probably ok and that you just need to hear it.
What’s bad is when people seek *unconditional* reassurance. When people seek unconditional reassurance, they want to be convinced that things are ok at all costs - even if things are horribly wrong. That’s dangerous, and destructive. (And particularly dangerous if the thing that’s wrong is the result of something they’re going, but it’s destructive even when the problem is in no way their fault).

skiesofpluto said:

Sometimes when I am having anxieties I will straight up ask, “Can you reassure me that _ is ok?”

Maybe that’s unusual but I think it’s the best approach for me, I really don’t know how else to get that clearly across. But it’s definitely okay to ask for reassurance sometimes. (The only thing is that if someone does say something is not okay, you need to listen to them and acknowledge that and talk about it.)

realsocialskills said:

Yes, that’s often an entirely reasonable thing to do.

If you are relatively sure that the thing is ok, and that the person is ok with it, and that it’s just your anxiety clouding your judgement, explicitly asking for reassurance can be a really good idea.

It’s particularly ok if the thing isn’t really to do with the other person, eg:

  • “Remind me that it’s ok not to be into all of my friend’s fandoms?”
  • “Remind me that nothing bad will happen if I eat food I like?”
  • “Remind me that I’m allowed to say no?”

I’ve found that when it *does* have to do with the other person, it can be helpful to phrase it in a way that acknowledges that there might actually be a problem and that if so it’s ok to say so:

  • “I feel like I messed something up. Did I do something wrong, or are things ok?”
  • “I feel like you’re mad at me. Are you, or are things ok?”

Do you think that reassurance-seeking is always a bad thing? Because some of your posts seem to imply it.
realsocialskills said:
I didn’t realize my posts sounded that way, but I see what you mean now that you point it out.
No, seeking reassurance isn’t always a bad thing. It can be really good to seek reassurance, and I think everyone needs to do that at least occasionally. If you are afraid that something is wrong, it’s ok to want to check. And it’s ok to do that with the expectation that things are probably ok and that you just need to hear it.
What’s bad is when people seek *unconditional* reassurance. When people seek unconditional reassurance, they want to be convinced that things are ok at all costs - even if things are horribly wrong. That’s dangerous, and destructive. (And particularly dangerous if the thing that’s wrong is the result of something they’re going, but it’s destructive even when the problem is in no way their fault).

If you're worried that a request/offer offended someone

Sometimes this happens:

  • You offer someone something (eg: “Would you like some of my ice cream?”)
  • Or ask them for something (eg: “Could I use your computer to check something really quickly?”)
  • Or something that’s a combination of both (eg: asking someone out)

And then they say no, without giving an explanation. And then you feel bad. And you wonder if maybe they’re mad or offended, and you’d really like to find out that they’re not.

Sometimes when people feel this way, they try to fix it by asking for a reason. Often, the subtext is “please tell me a reason I can feel good about, so I don’t have to think I did something wrong.” That puts really uncomfortable pressure on the other person, especially if you did offend them but they don’t think it would be good to tell you so.

Sometimes people ask more simply, something like “did I offend you?” or “are you mad?”

  • This can be ok, but only if you actually want to know
  • and you make this clear to the person you’re asking
  • It’s not ok if the subtext is basically “reassure me that you’re not upset with me, even if you are”
  • If you’re not prepared to take “yes, I am mad at you” as an answer, it’s obnoxious to ask someone if they are mad

If you feel bad because you violated someone else’s boundaries, it’s not their job to make you feel better.