I was watching a TV show with my sister yesterday. In it, they were discussing personality types. The primary tool they used to was the scale which gives scores on five factors: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeability and neuroticism.
In one of the ad breaks I casually commented that I thought that I scored low on neuroticism. I don’t consider myself I particularly anxious person. I certainly don’t recognise in myself the kinds of anxieties I see operating in others.
I knew I was in trouble when my sister said ‘Really? You think you score low on neuroticism!’ Her tone was distinctly quizzical.
Then she said to me -‘ When you are stressed you don’t sleep and you lose weight’. Alas – both things are true.
I do suffer from stress – but the vast majority of my stress is internal. It is both self-generated and self-destructive. It will always have some anchor in the real world, and it can usually be defused by a good conversation with a close confidant.
I don’t identify at all with the label ‘neuroticism’ but if it is the equivalent of being highly strung then I fear I must own it.
It occurs to me that so many of these things are simply a matter of perspective. We place value judgements on words or behaviours and this interferes with our perception and our capacity to embrace the truth of who we are. For me to admit that I may score quite highly on the neuroticism scale is a little uncomfortable. Likewise another person may not like to score low on openness or conscientiousness.
Nonetheless, my desire is to be able to accept myself as I am – whatever that may mean for my scores on this particularly personality test. So for today, I am embracing the idea that maybe I am more controlled by my internal stress than I would like.
Just because most people around me cannot tell when I am struggling, doesn’t mean that I am well adjusted!