Anxious Personalities: Which Type Are You?by Anne Windermere Patient Advocate
Although everyone feels anxious to some extent, there are some personalities which seem more prone to feeling stress and anxiety. I am going to list some of the traits and mindsets of some of the different types of anxious personalities, but remember that these are but caricatures. Nobody is a cartoon character with unchanging static personal qualities and traits. The three "personality types" I’ve listed, their associated qualities, and the related goals are simply my personal interpretation. You may find that you have something in common with all the types or find bits and pieces of your personality scattered among these examples. The goal is to recognize what parts of your personality contribute to maintaining a higher than normal level of stress in your life.
Anxious Personality #1: The Drama King or Queen
Does it seem as though drama and stress follow you wherever you go? Do you find that you respond to situations with extreme emotion and that you tend to be on an emotional rollercoaster? Do your friends and family see you as seeking the center of attention? Do you feel bored or empty when there is nothing going on to stir up excitement even if it does create stress?
Drama kings and queens are possibly addicted to the adrenaline rush of drama. This addiction can have some very harmful side effects including great stress and anxiety. The attraction to feeling hyped up on emotions can lead some drama addicts to unconsciously create conflict and problems in their life which previously did not exist.
The drama king or queen can sometimes be colorful, vibrant, and the life of the party. But to friends, co-workers, and family, spending time with this type of personality can be emotionally exhausting.
If two drama addicts have a romantic relationship together, watch out You will see the sparks fly. There may be lots of sexual passion but also a passion for conflict and arguments.
Goal for this personality type: To figure out how their actions and impulses create stress and anxiety for themselves and others and to decrease their addiction to drama.
Anxious Personality #2: The Worrywart
This is probably the most common type of anxious personality. This is the person who becomes anxious because they are always imagining the worst case scenarios. If someone is late by ten minutes, the worrywart worries that the person has died in a terrible car accident. If the chronic worrier goes to the doctor for a checkup, they may fear being told that they have some life threatening disease.
The worrywart eyes his or her environment with extreme caution and wariness. Possible doom and catastrophe seem to be looming around every corner. The worrywart may be more prone to panic attacks and just the thought of something frightening can induce physical symptoms of fear and great anxiety.
The thought that is most predominant in the worrywart's mind is "What if?"
This personality type worries not just about their own safety and welfare but about their family and especially their children. The worrywart may spend incredible amounts of energy devoted to keeping their family safe. But this excessive worry can manifest in over protectiveness and stifle the growth and independence of their children.
Goal for this personality type: To understand that there is much that they cannot control and that excessive worry seriously limits their ability to take risks and enjoy life. Cognitive therapy can be very helpful in re-shaping the worrywart's belief system that there is not catastrophe waiting around every corner.
Anxious Personality #3: Little Miss or Mister Perfectionist
The perfectionist side to our personality is the inner slave driver who insists that we keep moving towards external goals at all costs including risking our mental and physical health. The perfectionist does not recognize signs to slow down and relax. Anxiety and mental anguish are seen as badges of honor and as attributes of hard work.
The favorite word which drives the perfectionist is "should."
The perfectionist has such high expectations for him or herself that they are almost always unobtainable. Mistakes are seen as inexcusable and this leads to greater and greater anxiety. Self worth is seen as conditional and as a direct product of external achievements.
The perfectionist not only attempts to be perfect at work but also within interpersonal relationships. They may have lofty ideals of how to be the perfect romantic partner or the perfect parent.
When things don't go their way the perfectionist may become anxious or depressed. Disappointment is a chronic issue for the perfectionist because life seldom lives up to their expectations. Burn out on the job or even within relationships is likely as the perfectionist does not heed mental or physical warnings to slow down or to adjust their expectations.
The perfectionist may end up with many physical ailments related to stress and taking on too much work and responsibility.
Goal for this personality type: To understand that nobody is able to be perfect. Mistakes will happen in life but that this doesn't mean they are any less of a human being. The perfectionist needs to learn how to pay attention and listen to their bodily signals that they need to relax and rest. This type of personality will need to learn how to adjust their expectations so that they are not set up for continuous stress and disappointment.
These are but three of the potential anxious personalities we may see in ourselves. I am sure we can list many more. Of these three which personality type can you most identify with? How have you learned to curb those personality traits which cause you the most stress? What strategies have helped the most?