Monday, January 23, 2012

Reeling in Reassurance

Imagine that you're walking toward your car, keys in hand and about to leave, when a feeling hits you: did I remember to turn off the lights upstairs? After an initial moment of hesitation, you burst back inside your house and speed upstairs to do a final, final check.

Regardless of whether or not the lights were on, this quick moment of panic prompted a need for reassurance. As Seth Godin states in his blog post on the topic, acts of reassurance (like asking a coworker to look over a report or a friend over an admissions essay) can be symbolic of an underlying fear inside us...a fear that keeps us from succeeding to the level that we able to and aspire towards. And a fear that-unless addressed-can keep feeding itself.

College students and young professionals can especially make themselves victims of reassurance, sabotaging themselves by giving their fears power instead of building confidence in their abilities. Assess your need to seek assurance from others by reflecting on the questions below:

1. On what topics/tasks do I commonly seek reassurance? Whether they are major work projects, small hobbies, or that one thing that you have been struggling to do even though you know that it will make a difference in your life, look for a pattern in your behavior by reflecting on where you need reassurance.

2. What needs to happen to not need to be reassured? Once you have identified your topic or task, reflect further by identifying any gaps that exist between your current level of skill and what you want. If there is no gap, ponder the anxiety that leads to seeking reassurance. Is it realistic? How is it serving you?

3. In what areas do I not need reassurance? We all have abilities and skills that we take for granted even though others may think they are exceedingly difficult. Most likely, you don't need reassurance here. Tap into these areas when tackling the areas where you need reassurance. "If I can do X, then why do I need reassurance to do Y?"

4. What is one small step you can take to eliminate your need for reassurance? Think of that one small action you can take to counter your need for reassurance and do it.

You are stronger than your fear and you don't need others to validate what you do. Build up your resilience to reassurance and replace it with cool confidence.

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