Even though neurosis is considered to be a mild mental instability, with such symptoms as anxiety and depression, it can be easily recognized by the obsessive behavior of its owner. 

Neurotic people tend to overdo and over-worry things in their lives. Their personalities and what they do can hardly go unnoticed. It can feel like a bit too much to be around them. It’s not been used as a separate mental disorder by psychiatric professionals in the US. 

Do you think you might know anyone with neurosis? After this article, you might realize you do. Neurosis is also referred to as neurotic disorder or psychoneurosis. Since the 1980s, the term has been treated as an anxiety disorder in the U.S. There are two similar disorders that neurosis should not be mistaken with. Neuroticism is a fundamental personality trait with extreme moodiness, anxiety, fear, anger, loneliness, frustration, guilt, and even jealousy. 

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Struggles With Genuine Connections

A different, severe mental disorder, neurosis, sometimes gets confused with psychosis when the patient is losing touch with their reality due to impaired thoughts and emotions. The bottom line in neurosis is that the individual looks at the world through their distorted glass and compulsive needs, a kind of wonderland they created instead of taking a deep interest in the world. 

Neurotic people aren’t capable of connecting with their surroundings genuinely since their central nervous system (CNS) is hurt. They are struggling to win over themselves. They aren’t easy to get along with, argue a lot, and disagree with many things, and they can be pretty stubborn. These debates can happen anywhere, in their homes, workplaces, social circles, or the Internet. They have a solid need to be correct and have the last word generally. 

How Neurotic Individuals Behave

Even narcissism and codependency can have neurotic roots. Needing excessive attention, approval, compliments, or love in your connections can be a very telling sign. Negative thoughts such as jealousy and envy also originate from neurosis. Feeling constant shame and guilt, as well as rigid perfectionism (like being overly tidy), can be the best signs of your neurosis. Keeping secrets, lying, and manipulating others could also be significant indicators. 

Manipulating your family members, partner, or co-worker frequently happens. You could be overplaying the victim and feel helpless in certain situations. You cannot quit your addictions, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or whatever that may be. Your life could feel like you were stagnating in most areas, unable to move upward on your career ladder, get more salary, attract a supportive partner, and improve your relationships and overall circumstances. 

Limiting Beliefs that Don’t Serve Them 

You could also feel like you cannot move to another city or country because of your excuses. On your body level, ongoing stiffness could be a sign of neurosis. Your back pain, pressure in the neck and spinal area, muscles, and if you have an inflexible body can indicate the condition. Sexual dysfunctions and being vindictive are also caused by neurosis. Are you vigorous, full of life, or just coping, feeling life isn’t worth the struggle? It’s neurotic. 

Are you taking life too seriously, cannot switch off, relax, or take a joke? Have you stopped smiling and having good times altogether? Chances are, you are somewhat neurotic. And if you are obsessed with how you look, constantly checking yourself in the mirror, are you disappointed over certain parts of your body, or feel like you have body deficiencies? If you always check your weight and worry about your appearance, that’s another sign.

How The Neurotic Person Feels

The neurotic person feels extreme emotional distress in tandem with subconscious conflict that usually leads to mild or severe anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, or phobia. According to modern scientific views, neurosis is developed by psychogenic and biological factors. A good example of psychogenic neurosis is when the patient is incapable of responding correctly to external stress. It is characterized by low stress tolerance and extreme sensitivity.

When someone makes an annoying noise while you are waiting in a queue, big crowds, slow service, disturbing sounds, and smells are among the few things that can highly irritate some people, while others don’t even recognize or sense them. It is important to note that it is treated as a personality trait by professionals, the byproduct of genetic, hereditary, or acquired factors. A non-trivial aspect is someone’s upbringing or social surroundings.

In neurosis, the ego plays an important role, wanting to predominate your mind and body. Your ego wants to control your feelings and emotions; it wants to overcome your fear and anxiety. This happens on such a deep subconscious level that neurotic people don’t have any idea of these, but they can sense that something is off or different about them. They also feel drained of energy and a constant rush of painful thoughts that wear them out. 

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If You Understand This, You Understand Neurosis

Neurosis causes an ongoing substantial internal conflict for those who suffer from it. There’s a wide gap between where a neurotic person is in life and where he believes he should be. He aims to overcome or tackle his anger, frustration, fear, and bitterness. Since a part of him wants to transcend another (like cancerous cells do), his inner unity gets more and more depleted. Thus, with time, he loses his integrity. He fails to accept himself, which would be pivotal to change entirely.

Therefore, people with a huge inner fight chasing impossible dreams are neurotic. When you talk to a neurotic person, you can sense a huge internal world projection, feeling like you are barely recognizable to them at any time. Sadly, this constant inner struggle can never settle and give them peace of mind. There is only one way to become free from neurosis: through self-acceptance. Accepting that we failed at winning over ourselves (one part over the other), and since we can only be one whole being, we were doomed to defeat. 

When neurosis is discussed, people don’t refer to it as being fearful. It is all about that. What is the neurotic person afraid of? To open his heart to love, to give himself entirely. He can be fearful of too intense emotions threatening to overwhelm his ego and hurt his fragile boundaries, thus weakening his character. This is not how healthy-minded people think. Quite the opposite: a life lived fully requires intensely felt deep emotions around people we trust and can lower our boundaries.

Accepting Reality and Yourself versus Rigorous Denial 

Neurotic people struggle with mistaking their needs for their wants, projecting their needs onto the world and their connections. The trouble is this can only lead to disastrous outcomes since we cannot force any of our desires to do anything. Life doesn’t work that way. It is like swimming against the current all the time. Because with neurosis, people refuse to accept what’s happening at the moment, requesting life to be different from what it is, rejecting reality.  

A few examples of this rigorous denial: life should be a certain way, our country should be that way, government and politics should be another way, my family should be quite different, my work should be a certain way, my boss shouldn’t behave like that, my kids should do better at school, cost of living should be cheaper, the neighbor should be nicer, the hairdresser smarter, and we shouldn’t age this fast, and the never being satisfied list goes on and on.

The problem with this list boils down to the fact that you are not only denying life, the world, and what it provides, you deny yourself foremost. And if you are in such deep denial, you cannot truly build a satisfying life that you can enjoy. You must learn to accept reality, however harsh it may seem! Disowning some parts of himself, the neurotic person has firm convictions. Of course, life throws experiences in his life from which he could learn if he wouldn’t be so stubborn!

Sturdy Neurotic Convictions

A few examples of very strong neurotic convictions: Most people are wicked, you cannot trust anyone, life is going to end soon, lying is evil, cheating is evil, all my exes were evil, to be mean is evil, everything is corrupt, people are going to kill each other in a moment when the end of the world is coming. What does this show us? On the one hand, the neurotic person has far-fetched, unrealistic expectations from the world, on the other, extreme negative beliefs. 

It materializes in your everyday life by how you treat yourself, what you think of the world and others, and how you treat people and situations generally. Typically, raging neurotic people can quickly get anxious about waiting in long queues, in a car, about drivers who make mistakes, poor client service, or a not warm enough dish in a restaurant. They seem to have built a rigid wall against such malfunctions, which don’t meet the level of the rules they created. 

Acting Bossy, Being the Rulekeeper 

And, what’s worse, neurotic people tend to behave like they are the rulekeepers, ensuring that people obey the rules. These expectations, laws, and demands usually come from childhood. Neurotic people pick up such a rigid mindset subconsciously early in life, and they aren’t generally aware of it at all. Unfortunately, neurotic adults didn’t have a choice growing up. They were unaware of what was happening, and they learned this behavior by observing the family dynamics. 

And as adults, they are trying to live by these rules. It can especially be hard if you grew up in an organized religious society where the church members and your parents taught you good morals. Sadly, shutting down the freedom of your soul by suppressing it so strictly could make anyone neurotic. Growing up like this takes away your free will and chance to form your thought pattern of who you are and who you want to become.

What’s The Neurotic Person Struggles With

Psychogenic neurosis can be caused by long-term work stress, including not getting on with the management, domestic and family-related problems, interpersonal relationship issues, relationship problems and losing someone you love, poor health and chronic conditions, financial matters, and other personality disorders. Being a workaholic constantly overworking, lacking enough rest, and recharging your batteries can increase the risk of neurosis. 

Neurotic people struggle with adapting to their environment and should seek help from a therapist. Otherwise, they could be stuck in detrimental life patterns; no matter how good they are, without help, there’s a high chance they couldn’t develop a personality that better serves them and the world. A neurotic person not only views the world too negatively but is not guarded against its stress with a very weak response-ability. It’s like a double-edged sword.

What’s more, they blame themselves after seeing things in a much worse light than they genuinely are. This blame comes from their deeply rooted shame that feeds off being anxious and highly pessimistic. Neurotic people might generally feel sad, angry, worried, irritated, disappointed, guilty, shameful, self-conscious, fragile, and like living in a dream world where their dreams remain unattainable. They think these dreams cannot be within their reach. 

The Positive Factors, Possible Treatment

If you have healthy neurotic tendencies, it can also benefit you. For instance, you could use your mild work-related anxiety to perform better under tight deadlines. With severe neurotic tendencies, you must find what works best to cut down on stress and anxiety. Reducing workload and maintaining a healthy life balance includes enough sleep, eating what’s best for your blood type and body, exercising, meditating, socializing, and journaling.

If you feel like you cannot talk enough to people in your social circles or family members, you should find a person or a therapist you trust. Journaling isn’t always enough. In my experience, speaking to someone trustworthy is the highest need of the neurotic person. Make sure you release the overflow of communication within you with people willing to listen; don’t let it pile up and annoy the wrong individuals. There’s always help, and someone will genuinely listen. 

The Solution to Your Problem 

You should also remember that you can gain true freedom and ease by letting go of those rigid rules you so keenly hold onto. This may seem challenging, but replace them with more helpful thoughts. Even though your strong beliefs and sense of self have provided you with a safe harbor where you have found security so far, you should muster all your courage and set yourself free to live a free life without debilitating obsessions.

Avoid the trap of keeping your idealistic solid beliefs and thought patterns, which you shouldn’t force onto others. Be it rigid religious views or negative beliefs that others don’t usually enjoy listening to. You should quit preaching and imposing rules onto others they don’t want to follow. Meanwhile, allow others to live their lives freely and come up with their solutions, not try to bond them to your rigid view. Be brave enough to question yourself at times!

Stop Your Inner Critic!

Finally, stop your negative inner voice, criticizing yourself and others, and saying negative things all day! Like, my partner or boss shouldn’t have said that my friend shouldn’t have behaved that way, there should have been a free parking space sooner, the service provider lady should have been nicer, and the kids shouldn’t have caught COVID and brought it home! And I should have been more careful, and I should have worked more or chosen better.

Sit down with yourself, and think about how many thoughts keep popping up daily. Then, ask yourself in what ways they add value to your life? How do they benefit you? Do they bring joy and happiness? If not, what positive feeling statements could you use to bring you joy? Write down in detail how they affect you negatively. Think about how you would overcome them, and you can get as creative as you like here!

You don’t want to become bitter, losing all hope because you couldn’t make the necessary changes, and the neurotic rigidity sunk in your soul so deeply that you cannot get rid of it! 

Photo by Дмитрий Хрусталев-Григорьев

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