We have seen from several articles that I have already published on this site that if we have suffered significant childhood trauma we are at increased risk of suffering from crippling anxiety conditions in our adult lives.
Such anxiety conditions, unfortunately, may be intensified if we have certain personality characteristics. I briefly outline each of these characteristics below:
High Anxiety Personality (HAP) Traits (Characteristics):
Such individuals’ brains may ‘run wild’ when thinking about what could go wrong in their lives; hence, of course, the expression, ‘You’re letting your imagination run away with you.’
2) Excessive Need For The Approval Of Others:
Such an individual is extremely dependent upon the approval of others in order to sustain self-esteem as s/he lacks the requisite internal, psychological resources to sustain it by him/herself.
Those with this extreme need for approval often deeply fear rejection and find it very hard indeed to accept criticism from others.
They may, too, constantly feel compelled to meet the needs of others (or to perpetually be what is colloquially known as a people-pleaser).
– sets him/herself unreasonably and, often, unobtainably, high standards in the tasks s/he undertakes
– tends to become obsessive about small flaws in tasks s/he undertakes, detracting from concentration on the ‘big picture’ in relation to what s/he wishes to achieve
– tends to see outcomes of tasks s/he has undertaken in ‘black and white’ terms, ignoring all of the ‘shades of grey’ in between; to the perfectionist, the outcome of a task is either a success or a failure. For example, a student may regard getting a grade ‘B’ rather than a grade ‘A’ as a ‘failure’, thus ignoring the fact that getting a grade ‘B’ is itself a very worthwhile achievement which many other students (non-perfectionists) would be quite content with.
4) Excessive need to be in control:
Those with an excessive need to be in control tend to have a very high need for life proceeding in an orderly, structured, predictable and routine manner, and to become very anxious when unpredictable events intervene. Frequently, also, they feel a strong need to control those around them.
Whilst they may experience a high level of anxiety and distress when events conspire to undermine their ability to control their environment, they may, nevertheless, be very adept at hiding such internal feelings from others, giving the impression of being an extremely strong individuals.
5) Excessessive need to be in control of their negative emotions:
For example, they may feel it is somehow ‘wrong’ to ‘indulge in’ negative emotions such as sadness and anger and, therefore, subjugate and suppress such natural feelings that are, of course, common to all humanity.
However, this is not healthy. The suppression of anger, for example, can cause it to build up over time, eventually erupting in a manner that is totally disproportionate to the trigger (or, to use a very well known expression, the straw that broke the camel’s back). Also, research suggests that the suppression of anger can also impair physical health, contributing to:
– high blood pressure
– heart disease
– and, possibly, even cancer
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).