Living with anxiety is definitely not easy. It can seem like every little part of your day can be a potential trigger for fear and paranoia. Sometimes these feelings manifest as physical symptoms, such as a fast heart rate and shakiness. People who suffer from anxiety disorders may see themselves as inferior and have low self-esteem. On the contrary, they tend to have a lot of these incredibly positive traits.
Positive Traits Of People Who Have Anxiety
1. Faster Threat Recognition
Scientists have theorized that feelings of fear and anxiety evolved as a survival instinct to detect threats. Researchers recently studied this by studying emotional reactions of subjects with anxiety at the electromagnetic level. They then exposed to them to images with angry or aggressive facial expressions. The participants recognized the threat within 200 milliseconds!1 It’s clear that those with anxiety are faster at recognizing threats in their surroundings than others.
2. Low Likelihood Of Dying Young
People who show high anxiety in their childhood and adolescence are less likely to die or seriously injure themselves in early adulthood due to accidents2 Those with anxiety are less likely to try out risky activities that could result in injury or fatality.
3. Higher Intelligence
Studies show that people with anxiety on average show high levels of IQ. The authors of these studies hypothesize that perhaps humans evolved intelligence with a sense of worry.3 After all, intelligence comes with the knowledge of all the possible risks one could face.
4. Stronger Memory
People with anxiety are often seen to be bad at paying attention, especially when they are experiencing feelings of anxiety or fear. For this reason, they often perceive themselves to be bad at remembering things. However, it’s seen that those with anxiety tend to have a strong verbal memory.4 This combined with high intelligence means that they do have the potential to test well.
5. Higher Empathy
Socially anxious people tend to be more empathetic towards other people.5 This means that emotionally they find it easier to relate to other people’s situations and feelings. Empathy is a very useful trait in a lot of social situations. Not only are they empathetic, they can also read emotions with accuracy.6
6. Better Friendship
Those with social anxiety often think they come off worse than they actually do to those around them. A recent study shows that this perception is not exactly accurate. Their friends perceive their friendships to of high quality. In fact, most of them were unaware that the other was facing difficulties with social anxiety at all.7 This ability to connect well in friendships may be because of their ability to empathize with others.
7. Perceived To Be More Trustworthy
People with anxiety tend to embarrass easily, but studies show that people who witness a gesture of embarrassment and the appeasement or apology that goes with it, tend to see anxious people as more prosocial and capable of commitment. These features make people see them as trustworthy.8
If you’re someone suffering from an anxiety disorder, there’s no reason for you to feel inferior or have self-esteem when you’ve got these great personality traits on your side.
|↑1||El Zein, Marwa, Valentin Wyart, and Julie Grezes. “Anxiety dissociates the adaptive functions of sensory and motor response enhancements to social threats.” Elife 4 (2015): e10274.|
|↑2||Lee, W. E., M. E. J. Wadsworth, and M. Hotopf. “The protective role of trait anxiety: a longitudinal cohort study.” Psychological medicine 36, no. 3 (2006): 345-351.|
|↑3||Coplan, Jeremy D., Sarah Hodulik, Sanjay J. Mathew, Xiangling Mao, Patrick R. Hof, Jack M. Gorman, and Dikoma C. Shungu. “The relationship between intelligence and anxiety: an association with subcortical white matter metabolism.” Frontiers in evolutionary neuroscience 3 (2011).|
|↑4||Owens, Matthew, Jim Stevenson, Julie A. Hadwin, and Roger Norgate. “When does anxiety help or hinder cognitive test performance? The role of working memory capacity.” British Journal of Psychology 105, no. 1 (2014): 92-101.|
|↑5, ↑6||Tibi-Elhanany, Yasmin. “Social cognition in social anxiety: first evidence for increased empathic abilities.” The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences 48, no. 2 (2011): 98.|
|↑7||Rodebaugh, Thomas L., Michelle H. Lim, Katya C. Fernandez, Julia K. Langer, Jaclyn S. Weisman, Natasha Tonge, Cheri A. Levinson, and Erik A. Shumaker. “Self and friend’s differing views of social anxiety disorder’s effects on friendships.” Journal of abnormal psychology 123, no. 4 (2014): 715-724.|
|↑8||Feinberg, Matthew, Robb Willer, and Dacher Keltner. “Flustered and faithful: embarrassment as a signal of prosociality.” Journal of personality and social psychology 102, no. 1 (2012): 81.|