Being someone who’s been struggling with making decisions to the point of anxiety (I call it decision anxiety), I started becoming familiar with the mechanics of it. I learned that it relates to a feeling of powerlessness and to a desire to always know what the right decision is but I have also come to believe that the most important cause of this kind of anxiety is confusion. And so, I decided to put together a list of habits that create confusion in hope that they may be more easily identified when they occur and thus, easier to fix.
So here is the first habit:
Mismanaged High Openness
Openness is one of the 5 personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) from the Big Five personality theory. People who score high on openness are creative, curious, imaginative, explorative and inventive which is why they are very often involved in artistic pursuits. Those who score very high on openness, though, may run the risk of becoming unfocused, interested in too many things, getting distracted by novelty or experimenting with a variety of things, which can be a cause for instability.
I don’t recall if I scored 100% on openness, but it was definitely more than 98% which both surprised me and didn’t. It surprised me because I didn’t think I was that easily swayed by various interests and it didn’t surprise me because I already viewed myself as a creative person.
I didn’t know this could be a problem, but this new knowledge made me think of the various ways in which I had overwhelmed myself with information to the point where I couldn’t dedicate myself to any pursuit, because my attention would be drawn by something else every time.
As an example, I signed up to so many courses on Udemy and Coursera: Music Production, Propaganda, Hypnosis, NLP, Programming, Piano Lessons, Music Theory, QiGong, Guitar, Social Psychology, Photoshop, Astronomy, History, etc. and I lost interest in many of them halfway. Most of them I have purchased, yet I didn’t even start them.
I have been interested in too many things for my own good. And since I have quit my job, I have been feeling a bit purposeless and confused about what I am doing, about what I want, what I like and where I am going. I have been acting like a kid distracted by shiny objects and it hasn’t been very fun.
After I wrote this article, I was reading The Four Temperaments by Rudolf Steiner, and the following quote really made an impression on me:
“In the nervous system and astral body, sensations and feelings constantly fluctuate. Any harmony or order results solely from the restraining influence of the ego. People who do not exercise that influence appear to have no control over their thoughts and sensations. They are totally absorbed by the sensations, pictures, and ideas that ebb and flow within them. Something like this occurs whenever the astral body predominates, as, for example, in the sanguine. Sanguines surrender themselves in a certain sense to the constant and varied flow of images, sensations, and ideas since in them the astral body and nervous system predominate.
The nervous system’s activity is restrained only by the circulation of the blood. That this is so becomes clear when we consider what happens when a person lacks blood or is anaemic, in other words, when the blood’s restraining influence is absent. Mental images fluctuate wildly, often leading to illusions and hallucinations.
A touch of this is present in sanguines. Sanguines are incapable of lingering over an impression. They cannot fix their attention on a particular image nor sustain their interest in an impression. Instead, they rush from experience to experience, from percept to percept. This is especially noticeable in sanguine children, where it can be a source of concern. The sanguine child’s interest is easily kindled, a picture will easily impress, but the impression quickly vanishes.”
~ Rudolf Steiner – The Four Temperaments
It made me realize that there is a correlation between the sanguine temperament and high openness and that I need to become more focused and more restrained in my explorations. Also, I find it interesting that Rudolf Steiner mentions anemia, because I also have iron-deficiency anemia.
So if you are high on openness like me, I think it helps to become a bit more organized. Set goals, short and long term. Make lists. Narrow down your interests to what you really love to do, to what you are really interested in. You’ll be able to identify it by the level of satisfaction or joy it gives you. For me that was figuring out tools of media manipulation for a while and developing my critical thinking. Another thing I am always interested in is shadow work, understanding my conditioned behavior, reflecting on it and writing about it too. I think I would have loved to do something like what PewDiePie does because I feel I have the same kind of craziness within, except I don’t manifest it very often.
I think that people who are high on openness don’t like committing to things, but if you love to do something, you need to grow that something. And commitment is the tool by which you achieve it. It’s not something that restricts you, it is what channels your creative power, which would otherwise squander among your short lived interests.