Personality and stress
you personality can cause stress in the following ways;
1) if you have an imbalance in your personality where one or more traits are particularly strong or where personality traits combined together to create more extreme behaviour
2) where your personality traits clash with each other and thereby cause tension
3) where the needs that you personality traits generate are not being met
So far I think that one can reduce personality induced stress by following the following principles;
1) undertake a personality test or assess your personality by reflecting on your experiences. This way you can find out which personality traits are dominant in your personality.
2) moderate personality traits that lead to stress and maybe before you act consider whether your behaviour is being driven by one of your personality traits
3) seek to find ways whereby the conflicting needs that you personality traits generate can be resolved.
Personality type and stress
The acronym ‘Ocean’ stands for the five main personality traits that have emerged from extensive research with the thousands of people in different countries. These five main personality traits are; open to experience, conscientious, extrovert\introvert, agreeable and neurotic. Each one of these traits can in themselves lead to stress if they are too strong in one’s personality, for example it is easy to see how being too conscientious about working can cause stress.
Moderate personality traits that lead to stress and maybe before you act consider whether your behaviour is being driven by one of your personality traits:
I was surprised when I did the ocean personality test that I scored low on conscientiousness. However when I thought back to my experiences I realised that often I have been rebellious and that this has sometimes led to stress.
The following is an example of a personality trait leading to stress. When I was a child our family would go on walks in the countryside. During one of these walks I became upset about something, I’ve forgotten now what I was upset about but I left the group and went off walking by myself and then became lost. I had some crazy idea that even though I was about 20 miles or so from home that there was a shortcut, that I could quickly take to get back home. Eventually I realised that I was completely lost and I ended up running through a wood saying prayers in my desperation. Finally I was picked up by a policeman as I was walking up a side road. The policeman gave me a Polo mint and took me back home. When I got back home my mum gave me an egg drink – my favourite drink at the time which consisted of a raw egg mixed with milk and sugar.
I don’t know how much of this rebelliousness was associated with being neglected as a child. I always felt I had to do everything by myself. There was a subject at school that I didn’t like and refused to learn so every week I was taken to the headmaster and beaten with a leather strap. I also refused to do PE and asked if I could be transferred to doing art instead and he agreed. I think that some of this lack of conscientiousness may be a cognitive flaw associated with a lack of attention to detail because when I was at primary school I was always be beaten for not bringing my plimsolls to school. When I arrived at the school without my plimsolls the headmaster would tell me to choose a plimsoll from those that were lying around and he would then proceed to smack me or some days I would have to write lines instead. I don’t think that this was to do with rebelliousness but simply that I’ve always focused on the bigger picture rather than the small detail. However whenever I see anything in the news about people rebelling against the government somewhere I am always on the side of the rebel and the underdog.
seek to find ways whereby the conflicting needs that you personality traits generate can be resolved.
The traits can also clash with each other and cause stress within one’s own personality. In my case I score quite highly on the ‘open to experience’ dimension but also probably on the neurotic dimension which means that change can trigger stress, however new experiences automatically involve change. This probably means that I really enjoy having new experiences but experience stress because I can be quite hesitant.
The other way that one’s personality can cause one stress is when the needs that one’s personality generates are not being met. When these needs are being met than one feels more relaxed. I really enjoy having new experiences and when I am satisfying this need through for example socialising and meeting new people I feel more relaxed. So it is important to understand one’s personality type in order to acting in harmony with one’s traits and also to find ways to resolve the conflicts that one’s different personality traits can generate. I really enjoyed learning new pieces of music which I think satisfies my need for new experiences without putting myself into situations where I am experiencing a high level of stress caused by change.
Personality tests: Myers Briggs is quite a popular personality test that is slightly different to OCEAN. Click here to take the test and here to find out more about your type. I’ve been told that the free test you get when you follow the link is one of the best free Myers Briggs type tests.