Three Personality Traits That Stress You Out!
Can you relate to any of these?
1. Are you a perfectionist?
Americans are obsessed with being the best. We always want to be number one. Our perfectionism about appearances, achieving great success in our careers or getting straight A’s in school can set up a false standard of living that can exacerbate existing levels of stress.
When we are perfectionistic, we set unrealistic standards for ourselves which we can never truly measure up to. Perfectionism sets the bar way too high and makes us look at life in “all or nothing terms.” You succeed at 100 percent, but you fail at 98 percent.
I always say, “strive for the best,” but be realistic about not always being the best. And when you do fall short of being perfect, make sure you cultivate the gray area of the experience.
In other words, be your own philosopher: “There is no such thing as failure, only varying degrees of success.” — Teddy Roosevelt
2. Are you a people pleaser?
Nobody likes to disappoint people and everyone wants to be liked by everybody. Hence, we hate saying “no.” In its defense, people pleasing (like perfectionism) sometimes gets us good results in life and has probably led to a lot of success stories.
But being a “yes” person isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. People pleasing or relying on others for approval, leaves us vulnerable to the moods, whims and criticisms of others. Plus, you will never feel good about yourself on your terms because you will be a slave of being evaluated by others.
If you lived on a small island with, say, ten other people and tried to please them all the time, you might succeed. But most of us live in heavily populated areas where at some point in your life, someone is not going to like you (and that’s okay) and you will encounter people you have to say “no” to and people you will disappoint (and that’s okay, too).
People pleasing will disempower you because you are allowing your self-worth to be defined by people like your boss, coworkers, your spouse, your family, friends, etc. Every time you feel good after getting someone’s approval of you, you are feeding the anxiety monster. Continue to do that and it will never end. You will be anxious every day.
Be your own philosopher: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” — Bill Cosby
3. Are you a controlling person?
Trying to achieve absolute control of things in your life is very seductive. We always want to know there are guarantees to everything, that risks we take will pan out, that our intimate partners won’t leave us, that we will never get sick, or that we will never be unemployed. We unknowingly align ourselves in a “results” expectation of life which does not leave room for allowing things to naturally flow.
Excessive need for control causes unspeakable stress because when we enlist any type of control strategy, big or small, and it fails (and it almost always does) then our anxiety spikes and we panic. The irony is that in trying to gain an excessive amount of control all the time, we essentially feel out of control.
The concept of “worry”:
Think about it. Why do we worry so much? Despite it being time consuming and exhausting, it’s still another issue of control that we struggle to let go of. We essentially worry because we have convinced ourselves that if we worry enough about something, bad things won’t happen to us and we will be safer in the world. But, in truth, it has the potential to make us feel more distressed.
“I can’t always control what goes on outside, but I can control what goes on inside.” — Wayne Dyer.
Also, although not a personality trait, lack of interests in your life can also be a stress inducer.
Human beings were not built to be idle unless you want to be a monk in a monastery up in the mountains. Human beings must have focus and drive about something — anything that is important to them. Too much idle time leads to boredom and thinking too deeply about unnecessary questions of life that don’t need to be answered. It also leads to the perils of over magnifying small, trivial things that are not important.
But remember, acquiring the type of interest or direction in life that I am speaking of, does not mean finding the cure for cancer or climbing Mt. Everest or starting up a software company. It simply means finding something to soothe your soul and perhaps ignite your imagination. If you don’t do this, life can be a very long and lonely existence. When the mind is not stimulated for extended periods of time, your anxiety will in all likelihood increase. So get busy.
The next time you are stressed or anxious, I guarantee you that one or more of the three personality traits are influencing your thoughts. Ask yourself:
1. Am I looking at my life with a perfectionistic eye? Am I setting the bar too high today?
2. Am I relying on people for approval too much? Am I saying yes to everyone when I mean no?
3. Am I enlisting an excessive need to control my environment and other people?