Who Else is High in Neuroticism?

I’m hoping to find some other’s on here with similar personality traits because I have been finding it very difficult to proceed in a direction I would like with my life and I want to see what other’s may be doing to better their situations.

I am finding it unduly difficult to move anywhere. I find myself continuing to build up plans for myself - well thought-out plans that would probably work to better my current situation - only to be thrown aside during a bout of anxiety. I also find myself struggling immensely to do what I find interesting. I have chronic anxiety. In both the JBP version and the HEXACO version of the personality trait test I scored very high in neuroticism.

I think it would be very beneficial to have a discussion with others facing similar difficulty. The reason is because if you are high in neuroticism it seems difficult to even clarify the issue you are facing because you have so much anxiety about it. Its like the anxiety prevents you from clearly articulating what the actual problems are because your mind is constantly misconstruing the reality of the situation.

Anybody else on here experiencing something similar? If so, what do you think about the issue and what have you tried to make the problem better?

Here are some things I noticed that have previously helped me (significantly):

  • Being in an intimate relationship with somebody low in neuroticism - my ex-girlfriend was much lower in this trait which I found very helpful, it was somebody to keep my head level on a daily basis - I suspect having a close friend low in neuroticism would produce the same effect
  • I noticed that some days (rarely), I can get myself into a mindset where I can completely remove any anxiety I am feeling by convincing myself that I have plenty of time, or by reminding myself that people who succeed in their goals seem to be driven by intense fascination by what they are working on and that forcing myself to learn things will not encourage that fascination - I think this could be a highly valuable technique if you could produce it regularly, but I’ve found it difficult to implement more than 1 day because something anxiety-provoking inevitably occurs soon afterward
  • I am just beginning cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and it seems potentially helpful in producing a change of mindset, but I need to test it for a while to see if it works

Let me know what you think!

I don’t suffer from high neuroticism according to the big 5 on understandmyself or my own big 5/30.

That said, I do have moments when I have severe anxiety, where I just lay in bed in turmoil because otherwise I’m fretting.

In over-simplified terms, axiomatic, a couple things that help me are:

  • disrupt the current environmental and psychological realms, by physically going somewhere unusual, different to where you are normally familiar with, and then finding something purely novel to consider, I had to do this recently to actually literally stay alive, had to move to a different country in a different part of the world in response to the turmoil;
  • disrupt your sense of time span and routine, by putting some current goals on a hold (say for an hour or a few hours or a day or two) and considering new novel goals that are either much shorter, or much longer to achieve… doing this will allow you to refocus;
  • develop mantras based on big 5 trait questions

I want to add more but will leave this for now.

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In NEO-PI-R, under Neuroticism-Anxiety, there are the following negatively keyed questions:

Am not easily bothered by things.
Am relaxed most of the time.
Am not easily disturbed by events.
Don't worry about things that have already happened.
Adapt easily to new situations.

So for a mantra, I might develop a phrase like “I’m more relaxed than anyone.”

And then practice being relaxed.

For another mantra I might develop a phrase like “Right now my feet are on the floor, and I’m alive, and I love good food.” Then I might go make a sandwich. In fact I think I’ll do that right now.

Being aware of the easy self-analysis questions that the tools are based on, is seeing a tool that can be used, but instead of just seeing it, grabbing hold of it and figuring out some new way to use the tool for your own empowerment, that’s what I did a year and a half ago.

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I appreciate the responses Tom.

I’m curious if you’ve explored the cause of your bouts of anxiety. The reason I get anxiety is mostly from having too many goals laid out and worrying that I’m not reaching any of them. I feel overwhelmed, and I think part of that is because I’m high in creativity. I don’t know if that is the case for you. But this is what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps with. It makes you separate the anxiety-provoking thoughts from the anxiety itself, and then encourages you to develop a “balanced” thought which is a thought that counterbalances the anxiety-provoking one.

So for me I will perhaps see a friend get a promotion, then the thought I have is something like “wow that person is getting ahead of me, I’m not going anywhere” which will cause a lot of anxiety. So you produce a counterbalancing thought like “actually, I have come pretty far from where I was before” or “that person probably put a lot of work in to get that promotion”. This is meant to remove the negative emotion by making the reality of the situation clearer. However, it still doesn’t really solve the fundamental problem, it just allows you to manage the emotions.

I like this idea because it seems like it would allow you to act out a more productive version of yourself. Perhaps I’ll try this out.

First off, all minds are neurotic. All. No matter what people look like on the outside. Some life circumstances allow some to be or appear to be less neurotic but change the circumstances and see what happens.
I suggest listening to Eckhart Tolle cd Practicing the Power of Now
He explains how minds work
Give it a try… helps me

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People have made good suggestions. I’m more the angry type so I’m not sure how these ideas work for you. Anyway I’d say there are these prongs more or less to consider

  • Professional psychologists - Can be useful, depending. On the behavioural side you can look at your lifestyle, habits, that kind of thing. Addictions-type stuff is very action-oriented, might be helpful?
  • Diet i.e. allergies and immune response type stuff - I don’t know if food choices contribute to neuroticism but everything’s related somehow.
  • Philosophy - Buddha’s First Noble Truth, life is core stress. At least, the fact you’re suffering doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. You’re not in pain because you’re a loser. You’re in pain because you’re a human being. What do we do with that? I think it’s really key to try to come to terms with the reality of suffering in human life. I say “try” bcs as JP says, human life is a tragedy. It’s huge. There’s happiness and joy, yes, but let’s not expect that. That’s JP’s whole mission, seeking meaning.

Personally also most helpful for me has been meditation. Three forms:

  • Straight-up mindfulness. You might start frequenting a local Buddhist group to learn. It’s the original CBT.
  • Heart-brain coherence/a la HeartMath. Check out HeartMath.org. Similar, but with tech support. Physiological basis.
  • Self-inquiry a la The Work of Byron Katie. Deconstructing painful beliefs. “I’m high in neuroticism” - is that true? The Work was the single most important thing I’ve ever learned.

That’s me and my stuff. Good luck


Hi Eric,

I too scored high in both neuroticism and creativity.

What helps me is my high level of conscientiousness which is planning and strategising. According to JBP, this trait lowers neuroticism. Creative people tends to go in many different directions within their mind so you need to focus at a single goal at a time and also put in place micro routines to manage all the ideas and plans you have.

Here are what I do that quell anxiety, most of them according to what I learned from JBP: -

  • Exercise everyday even if you’re busy as hell. You need to burn off excessive adrenaline that comes with worrying

  • Every morning and especially when you feel anxious, EAT something. Choose food high in protein and fat, avoid carbohydrates. Things like peanut butter, seeds, steak, fish, Mediterranean diet. Eat even if you don’t feel like it. This will calm you down

  • Regulate your sleep, wake cycle. Sleep and wake at the same time everyday. Preferably a time similar to most people.

  • Prioritise goals, tasks, plans according to this matrix, work on the high impact low effort ones first. Google search “Action Priority Matrix”

  • I get my tasks done even if I lose interest. When I find that I just couldn’t get them done because of lack of creative simulation, boredom, or depression … I focus on small goals, and I mean very small… like if I can’t get this paperwork done … I prepare the materials and get it ready for when I could work up to bigger goals the next day. Make it incremental by using baby steps.

  • You said you have well thought out plans and they get thrown aside when you’ve bouts of anxiety. I suspect you might have been obsessing over details of the plans or making them perfect. I did that before and I’ve found that to be very anxiety provoking. Be ok with a bad plan and get going. Get small things done first then move on to bigger ones to activate the exploratory system of your brain. Dopamines get released when you are on a path towards goals and discovery of unexplored territories. One foot in a secure zone, another foot out to the unknown with a little danger to make you feel alive, when you flow without knowing that time has passed.

  • You can also try JBP’s “self authoring program” as a framework around your plan. The future authoring section will help you

  • You said you find yourself struggling immensely to do what you find interesting. I think you need to break this down into small pieces of whys. Write them down. Is it because you’re a perfectionist such that you’ve a grand vision that you ended up being afraid of screwing up the things you have to do ? Again start with small goals and focus your mind in getting things done

  • ***This is a BIG one that changed my life in relation to anxiety. Integration of your shadow side. The dark side involves anger, bitterness, envy, hatred and what not. Learn to use it as a force for assertiveness, to tell the truth, to stand up for yourself, to use minimal necessary force against malevolence. JBP talked about the bible verse, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Meek actually means those who keep their swords sheathed. Those who are dangerous and kept their sword sheathed shall inherit the earth. You need to learn to be dangerous yet not act out your dark side. That makes you virtuous and a force to contend with so people don’t take advantage of you. I highly recommend you study this. Since integrating my shadow I no longer suffer chronic anxiety or panic attacks at work or beach volleyball. I’ve just mild anxiety. YouTube search “Jordan B Peterson Integration of the shadow” and “JBP stand up for yourself”

  • I’ve also learned to stop worrying about my anxiety by again focusing on small goals. The more you worry about your anxiety the worse it gets.

  • Lastly apply Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. This is in relation to seeing others succeed or doing better that you. Again get on with small goals you can do today. I’ve found that when I envy others’ success in life, that tends to spiral into bitterness. What I do now is wish them well then get on with my goals.

I wanted to send you some YouTube links to some JBP lectures but can’t… this forum doesn’t allow links which is a strange rule. Anyway I’ll find out later how I could do so…