I just read an article by Susan Cain in the NY Times about the advantages of being shy/introverted/socially anxious. Here are some correlates: Higher levels of knowledge, greater achievements, lower injury rates, more conscientious, higher in empathy.
During my clinical training the other students and I sometimes joked that “anxiety is my friend.” Anxiety certainly can be useful, if not overdone. All negative emotions send an important message — sometimes we grasp the message and do what is needed and sometimes we don’t. Understanding that message and what to do with it is part of emotional intelligence. For instance, realizing that I feel anxious about giving an upcoming speech might tell me that I am not adequately prepared or that I care too much about what others think of my behavior. I might then prepare more, while considering that my presentation quality has little practical importance — I might decide that I want to do well for the fun of it.
Have you found anxiety, depression, anger, etc. useful? In what way?
John Malouff, PhD, JD
Associate Professor of Psychology