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Neuroticism: Everything You Need To Know

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The collection of personality traits that we exhibit essentially make us who we are. To a large extent they are based on the genetic structure of our parents, but there are methods to learn and unlearn certain character traits.

Some of these personality traits carry more benefits with them than others. Unfortunatly for us, we have no say in which traits we grow up with.

Life can be difficult for people who find themselves on the extreme end of the neuroticism spectrum. But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about it!

Keep reading to find out some ways you can decrease the negative effects that neuroticism has on your life. But before we get there, we have to understand what it means to be neurotic.

What Is Neuroticism?

In psychology, neuroticism is considered a fundemental personality trait, hence it is included in the big five personalities. It is often attributed with a set of negative emotions like depression, anxiety, and low self-confidence.

Neurotic individuals are often characterized as having a low emotional and mental stability, due their nature to see the world differently. They can often see a ‘normal’ social situation as a major source of stress, and this can be difficult to understand for the people in their surroundings.

I know someone in my life who exemplifies this very clearly. One of the issues for this person is when they are parking their car. When they park, their car has to be parked on a flat surface. So no inclines, not with one wheel slightly elevated compared to the rest of the car. They will go out of their way to ensure this. They would rather walk 15 minutes in the pouring rain than park infront of the door on a slight slope.

That is a classic example of what a neurotic person might do.

How To Know If You Are A Neurotic Person?

Neuroticisim, much like all personality traits, lies on a spectrum. This means that every one of us, to some extent, is neurotic. For the majority of people however, it is such a small part that it is hardly noticeable. But it is of course always possible to be higher up on that spectrum.

The easiest way to figure this out, is to take a quick personality test, courtesy of Psychology today. If you are interested in finding out, this test can be found here!

Now if you have found out that you are quite high on the neurotic spectrum, you might ask yourself whether this is a bad thing or not. Even in modern psychology, there is some debate to this.

On one side it is argued that being neurotic increases the chancea of suffering from mental illnesses, as well as scoring lower on health satisfaction tests. That being said, it is believed that neuroticism is a product of biological evolution that sharpens our senses to threats and other dangers.

How Can We Lessen The Impact Neuroticism Has On Our Lives?

I believe that the secret lies in unlearning the behaviours that we exhibit when we are being neurotic. These behaviours manifest themselves willingly at any aspect when our neuroticism is triggered.

Of course you need to have an understanding of the behaviours associated with your neuroticism, else you simply do not know what you need to unlearn! In case you have not yet fuly discovered the extent to which your neurotic tendencies have appeared, I will refer you to another article here. It is a quick mental exercise that you can do to uncover a the source behind the struggles you experience in your life.

Once these behaviours have been identified, we can start applying some of the following methods to unlearn those behaviours. In time you will be able to almost completely rid yourself of those neurotic tendencies!

Let’s get started with the first one!

1. Practice Mindfulness Via Meditation

Mindfulness has grown immensly in popularity in the last decade, and there is a good reason for that. It has shown incredible potential to offer solutions to a wide variety of psychological issues, such as unlearning unwanted personality traits.

Mindfulness essentially makes us more aware of the present moment. It encourages us to analyze the present moment, so that we can escape from the worries of the future and past.

When it comes to unlearning a character trait, it can be a powerful tool. Neuroticism is all about panicking over what others see as a ‘normal’ situation. Mindfulness is able to teach us to live in the moment, and become concious of the effect our action have in the present.

It can be used to give certain insight to how your neurotic tendencies affect you. It helps you understand yourself and offers advice on how to improve yourself.

How To Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness isn’t as complicated and doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think. Simply spending 15 minutes per day doing a mindfulness meditation is all it takes!

My preference is to do this right before I sleep. It is a great part of a sleeping routine, as it cleary distinguished between the busy day and the time to go to sleep.

I start by finding a comfortable position to either sit in a chair or lay down on bed. Then for the next 15 minutes I do nothing but pay attention to my surroundings. I listen to any sounds in the room, feel my muscles relax, or focus on the the inhale and exhale of my breath. You just have to find something in the present that you can focus on that is comfortable for you.

Sooner or later, you will start to notice that your mind will wander. You will begin to think about other things. Mindfulness meditation is all about strenghtening your ability to bring your mind back from wonderland and focus on the future.

Now you might not see the benefits of this straight away, but if you keep at it you’ll notice that you are much more aware of your immediate surroundings.

In terms of helping you deal with neurotic traits, it will cause you to become more aware of them. In turn you will be able to counter those neurotic habits more efficiently!

2. Get Feedback From Your Social Circle

This is another great tool to get insight into your own behavioral traits. It can often be hard for us to find our own behavioural flaws. However, these flaws are often clear as daylight for the people we spend a significant amount of time with.

On top of that, they will likely not only be able to tell you what is wrong, but they might give some excellent tips on how you can improve as well!

Of course asking people for help can be a daunting task, especially for those of us that lean more towards the introverted side of the social spectrum. In case you struggle with expanding and mainting your social circle, I have written an article explaining how to make social situations more enjoyable. If you are interested in learning more about that, please check out that post here!

3. Learn To Be Empathic

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feeelings of another person. It is often quoted as being able to put yourself in someone elses shoes.

Being an empathic individual is a great skill you must have if you wish to keep your neurotic tendencies under control. You might ask how empathy helps you to unlearn a behaviour if it is so focused on others, but hear me out.

When you spend time with the people you love, you obviously want what is best for them, and in order to be able to do that, you must understand your family and friends. If you are able to share their feelings, you will know how to behave to help out those other people.

Being aware of the feelings of others may make you realize that one of your neurotic tendencies that is about to come forth will actually negatively impact those in your environment. This can be an extra motivational boost to not give in to these tendencies.

It is essentially the love you have for your loved ones that keep you from displaying your neuroticism. Being empathic a powerful tool that is often underrated in its ability to help yourself!

4. Journal & Reflect

Journaling has so many benefits, I should dedicate an article just to the benefits that journaling can bring to your life. To stay on topic with neuroticism, we have to journal in a specific way. We can use a journal to not only learn a great deal about our neurotic tendencies, but we can also use it to make a plan to comabt those behaviours.

Writing about a situation in which your neuroticism manifested can result in you understanding what triggered it. Furthermore we can also explore how it affects those around us, which can help us become more empathic ( see previous point).

Once we have identified specific behaviours, we can explore thse complex issues further. Try and write ways in which you could approach the same situation, but in a different way.

Do you think your neurotic tendencies would still have manifested in some way? Do you think you could have altered the situation so that you are not confronted with that which birngs up your neuroticism?

These are all types of questions you should ask yourself as you explore your own world. It wil give you so much insight into the topic, you are bound to comee across some solutions!

I personally prefer to journal in the evening. This way I can explore how my day went, and the memories of the days events will still be somewhat fresh in my head. But if you work better in the morning, then by all means give that a shot. At the end of the day, you have to find whatever works for you!

Final Thoughts

Neuroticism can be difficult to live with, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any solutions to those problems. I would suggest you try all the methods abovee, but if you find that they are not working for you, then by all means find professional help!

These are amamzing people that will be able to write a unique plan of action for you. Something you will never get browsing articles or forums on the internet.

I wish you all the best with your future, and I hope you learned something here today!

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