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The Bad Side of “Good” Personality Traits

The Bad Side of “Good” Personality Traits

According to many schools of thinking, there are five main traits that determine our personality. Also known as “the Big Five”, they are:
  • Extraversion/Intraversion
  • Emotional Stability/Neuroticism
  • Conscientious/Disorganized
  • Agreeableness/Disagreeableness
  • Open-mindedness/Closed-mindedness
At a glance, it’s probably pretty easy to see which side of these personality traits are the “good” ones. It’s easier to succeed in life as an extrovert, thanks to a better ability to interact with and relate to people. Emotionally stable people always have an easier time in life than the more neurotic types. And being agreeable and open-minded just makes good sense. We all find ourselves wanting to be closer to the “good” end of the personality spectrum. Sadly, many of us end up on the “bad” side—the neurotic, introverted, disorganized, often disagreeable, sometimes closed-minded side. But are these sides really all that bad? Yes, they may not be the positive traits we as a society have come to see as “ideal”, but you’ll find that the “good” isn’t always all that good, either. How is that the case? Open-minded people tend to be more creative, and they are more open to new experiences and encounters. Good, right? Well, did you know they’re also more susceptible to gullibility and being deceived? Not only that, but some experts believe there’s a correlation between open-mindedness and vulnerability to certain mental illnesses. Emotional stability is all the rage—after all, you can have more stable romantic relationships, have less stress and anxiety, and tend to live happier lives. But it’s not all good. Emotional stability can come at a cost of vigilance. More neurotic types are more sensitive to cues that could alert them to relationship desertion, infidelity, and the things in life that could trigger anxiety and stress. Their neuroticism makes them more aware of the potential for things to go wildly wrong. Extroverts get a pretty good reputation, as they are more prone to be charming, have higher social status, benefit from a larger social network, have more sexual partners, and tend to be more attractive as potential mates than introverts. All things we want, right? Here’s a downside: they’re also at higher risk of accidents, tend to suffer from harsher dissolutions of their relationships, and are more likely to die young—all the result of their extroverted tendencies. Conscientiousness is definitely a good thing, both in potential romantic partners and in the workplace. Not only does it mean they are more faithful and trustworthy, but they are more organized and focused on the task at hand. On the other hand, higher conscientiousness is often linked to reduced mating opportunities. Not to mention the higher levels of stress and anxiety that come with trying to be an organized person in a highly chaotic world. Agreeable romantic partners and professional coworkers will always be well-liked among their peers. They have smoother social interactions and experience better cooperation from their counterparts. All good! But, on the flip side, they’re far less likely to get ahead at the workplace, and they tend to have lower social status than more disagreeable types. Nice guys/girls finish last, remember? What’s the point I’m trying to make with all this? Simple: just because you’ve got a “good” personality trait, it’s not always “good”. The same holds true for personality traits considered “bad”. We are who we are. Whether we were created this way or just came to be the way we are. While it is possible to change ourselves to our cores, there may be no need to. Or, at the very least, you may not need the “total personality overhaul” you believe you do. Think of your personality the way the Chinese approach the concept of yin and yang. There is a bit of bad in every good and a bit of good in every bad. And because of that, there is balance in the world—balance in who you are as a person! Accept those traits, good or bad. Because, in the end, they are what make you who you are.