When you’re stressed or just having a bad day, getting short-tempered and emotionally explosive can be understandable. When your emotions are scraped raw and you’re left feeling vulnerable, it’s normal to have outbursts of anger and irritability. But, when little things on seemingly normal days make you lash out in anger, irritability, and frustration, then it could be a sign of something more. Namely, neuroticism.
Neuroticism is a personality trait that can be characterized by feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, emotional instability, depression, frustration, and other similar feelings and emotions. Neurotic behaviors can affect your relationships and even affect your day-to-day life.
Let’s look at what neuroticism is, the common neurotic personality traits, what causes them, how it impacts your life, and what you can do to cope with the neurotic traits.
What is Neuroticism?
Neuroticism is a core personality trait and not a mental health disorder. If you have a neurotic personality, then you’re prone to emotional outbursts and uncontrollable negative feelings that might not affect your daily functions. If you have a neurotic personality, then you may find that your emotions are easily aroused and when you’re too emotional, it’s hard for you to calm down.
Neuroticism is one of the “Big Five Personality” traits among extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. Together, they are also referred to as OCEAN.
Do You Have Neurotic Personality Traits?
Now that you know what neuroticism is, how do you figure out if you have a neurotic personality? Here are some common personality traits or characteristics that can describe a neurotic personality;
A tendency to feel negative emotions
Anxiety or frequent bouts of irritability
Poor emotional regulation
Feelings of self-doubt
A self-conscious or shy nature
Frequent mood swings, sadness, and depression
Poor stress management skills
A tendency to undergo a dramatic change in feelings
A lack of resilience
A tendency to consider neutral situations as dangerous
A tendency to view small inconveniences as overwhelming
A difficult time controlling your current emotions
A tendency to become jealous
A tendency to become frustrated or angry about everyday situations
Feelings of fear and guilt over small things
What Causes Neurotic Behavior?
If you score high on neuroticism on the Big Five Personality Test, then here are some common factors that might contribute to your result;
Childhood Trauma: If you have experienced trauma as a child, then it could cause you to score a high neurotic score.
Gender: Yes, even gender could be a cause of your neurotic behavior. In a study, it was found that women score higher on neuroticism than men.
Genetics: Other research studies show that neuroticism can be genetic. If your parent(s) have a neurotic personality, then it is likely that you might also inherit some of those traits.
The Impact of Neuroticism on Your Well-Being
Neuroticism is a survival personality trait, which means it may help you survive because you tend to pay attention to threats and dangers better. However, having a neurotic personality may have some negative effects on your well-being too. In some cases, you may be unable to manage your worries effectively and may also risk be developing disorders such as anxiety and depression.
A study found that neuroticism is the only trait on the Big Five Model that can predict cognitive decline. Also, in general, people who score high on neuroticism react with quick actions but may take longer to get back to normal. The level of emotional instability is higher in people with neuroticism and they might also take a long time to regulate their emotions and behaviors.
Having a neurotic personality can also affect your relationships. People with higher neuroticism scores are more likely to be seen as annoying and might be perceived by others as being overly critical, overly dependent on others, someone who complains a lot, someone who needs constant reassurance, etc.
A neurotic person may also be involved in a higher number of conflicts. Some examples of this behavior can include; getting angry when someone cuts in front of you in traffic and you decide to confront them instead of letting it go. Sometimes, your neurotic personality may also lead you to falsely accuse someone without any evidence. All because of your over-worrying.
A neurotic person may also be perceived by others as unreliable as they struggle with emotional instability. Because of their erratic emotions, others may feel like they can’t rely on them or depend on them to keep a calm mind in high-stress situations.
Another impact of neuroticism on your relationships can include reduced well-being in your offspring. As a neurotic parent, you’re likely to be overprotective of your children and because of this trait, your children may begin to depend on you rather than making decisions on their own. This kind of behavior may affect your child’s ability to make decisions independently and develop coping skills that suit them best. It may also put them at a higher risk of developing psychological and anxiety disorders.
How to Cope With Neuroticism?
If you have a high neuroticism score, then here are some things you can do to cope with your personality trait and cope better;
Learn to keep a gratitude journal
When you practice gratitude, you remind yourself that even if life isn’t perfect, there are some things in your life that you can be thankful for. This habit will help you become more optimistic and gain a positive attitude toward life and everything you do.
Mindfulness or the art of living in the moment is also a great way to cope with neurotic behavior. This practice helps you control your emotions while staying in the moment. It can also help you control your blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and lower stress levels.
Improve your problem-solving abilities
When you work on your problem-solving skills, you begin to look at situations from an objective view. This helps you eliminate emotions from the situation, reducing negative responses. This might also help you look for activities that help you solve problems rather than letting them pile up.
Learn stress management techniques
Stress, if left unchecked, can turn chronic which can make you feel and react more negatively. Instead of letting this happen, practice healthy stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, yoga, art, etc. Anything that can help you reduce stress.
Consult a professional
If you’re still struggling with neurotic behavior and traits, then you can reach out to a professional counselor for help. They can suggest therapy approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to better cope with your neurotic personality traits.
Neurotic personality traits cause excessive emotions and can be characterized by emotional instability. Having a neurotic personality is not a sign of a mental health disorder. With the right coping strategies, you can learn to manage your personality traits better. If your traits are still affecting you, then you can consult a professional for more.
I hope this article helped you understand neurotic personality traits, what causes them, how it affects your well-being, and how to cope with them.
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