Personality traits such as introversion and sensitivity can make people more likely to experience fear and anxiety. However, they also tend to have many positive qualities, including creativity and compassion.
Part of what causes anxiety is the intensity of emotions and energy absorbed from others. So doing something creative helps to channel that energy and release negative feelings. Find what you are passionate about and do it. You will not only feel happier but also more relaxed.
A recent study also suggested that people who are more anxious are more likely to be persistent, a personality trait that allows you to be persevering, ambitious and conscientious. When harnessed well, some level of anxiety can be a powerful and positive motivator.
Many people who are fearful or anxious are also highly sensitive, which means they have a more sensitive nervous system and absorb and process sensory information more intensely. According to Dr Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, there are many benefits to being the highly sensitive type. First, you have a keen awareness of your environment, so that you know what is going on around you and you are highly intuitive. Sensitive people are also usually creative. According to Aron: ‘Creativity by definition involves putting together things that are not usually thought of as belonging together, and that requires a deeper and fuller processing of experiences, situations, and possibilities’.
Compassion and empathy are also common in sensitive, creative, anxious types. They tend to have a high awareness of their own feelings as well as those of other people. All kinds of communication skills seem to be a strength as well. Being aware of subtleties in the environment and in others means you are able to pick up non-verbal cues to people’s needs and emotions.
If you identify as an introvert and/or highly sensitive, it’s important to respect your needs. Know when you need to take a step back and be aware of keeping healthy boundaries. Giving yourself what you need and doing what you feel passionate about, whether that’s a creative outlet or something else, will fill you up in a way that nothing else can, providing you with the confidence and strength to weather life’s storms.
This is an edited extract from Deborah Ward’s Overcoming Fear with Mindfulness: