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Scientists Find Socially Anxious People Are Highly Intelligent

Scientists Find Socially Anxious People Are Highly Intelligent

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that most people of high intelligence are usually socially awkward in some respect, most people don’t realize it’s not because they’re “dorks” or whatever high school stereotype you care to use. Rather, it’s because highly intelligent people see the world on an entirely different level than the rest of us. Because of this, become incredibly anxious in seemingly normal situations. It’s not that they don’t know how to function at parties and social gatherings; it’s that their mind is constantly working on overdrive, which makes them incredibly anxious about any and everything around them. The following explains why being super-smart is both a blessing and a curse:

1. They have high sentinel intelligence

Highly intelligent people are much more in tune with the world around them than most other individuals. They are highly sensitive to threats of any kind, to the point that they have a hard time relaxing. Sudden loud noises can be enough to send them into a panic. They are so quick that while everyone else is processing the noise they just heard, the quick-thinker has already moved on to the “what if it was a gun or bomb or…” cycle of thought. Rethink this the next time you call your friend a “nervous Nellie.”

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2. They are highly self-aware

Intelligent people are constantly thinking about how they are being perceived, and will change their behavior when in a public place to attempt to blend in as much as possible. They’re constantly plagued with thoughts of “What if everyone saw me just sneeze all over my hand? They’re all gonna laugh at me.” While people may have seen it happen, chances are they didn’t care enough to make a big deal about it. Oddly enough, it’s tough for intelligent people to realize most of their thoughts are only in their head, and they’re being too self-aware.

3. They over-analyze events

Highly intelligent people constantly look for deeper meaning in conversations and regular life occurrences. This can lead to them getting lost in their own train of thought and losing their place in the conversation at hand. By over-analyzing things, intelligent people often distance themselves from mainstream conversations, finding it better to be an outside observer of goings-on than actively partaking in interactions with little face value.

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4. They over-analyze words

Intelligent people are constantly wondering “What did he mean by that?” This can cause social anxiety in the most innocuous of situations. A simple compliment from a boss could lead to a string of worries, such as “Was he being sarcastic? Did I really do a good job? Have I not been doing a good job, and he felt the need to tell me I was today?” and so forth. Of course, their boss most likely meant to give a quick compliment; but the over-thinker is left worrying about the simple interaction for the rest of the day.

5. They’re overly aware of other’s states of mind

Let’s go back to the last example, imagine the boss had said “Great job today” with anything less than enthusiasm and exuberance. You can be sure the socially anxious person would have picked up on his boss’ body language and lack of excitement. A boss could be having a bad day which has nothing to do with the highly intelligent person, but being aware of someone else’s state of mind makes you want to find the problem and fix it. A socially anxious person will spend the rest of the day wondering if he did something to offend the other party.

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6. They’re empathetic

Along with being overly sensitive to how other people present themselves, highly intelligent people are also highly empathetic. Unfortunately, this causes them to take on their friends’ burdens and problems as their own. Since they overanalyze every situation they encounter, highly intelligent people will stop at nothing until they’ve solved their friends issues; of course, this leads to even more anxiety, as they are dealing with not only their own problems, but the problems of a person they care for deeply.

7. They’re incredibly logical

Highly intelligent people are incredibly logical, which sounds like it should be a good thing. However, working with people who don’t think the same way can be incredibly frustrating. Many people operate off of emotions, so when a logical (and correct) conclusion is reached by a person with higher intelligence, there are usually some who will oppose the idea because it does not align with their train of thought. No matter how fool-proof a logical plan may be, it can be thwarted by those who fail to acknowledge the logical process behind it.

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8. They extrapolate past experiences

Being logical thinkers, highly intelligent people use past experiences to predict future outcomes. This can lead to high levels of social anxiety, as any possible negative outcome will certainly cross their mind along the way. Socially anxious people avoid getting themselves into situations in which they’ve embarrassed themselves or otherwise failed in the past. While weighing possible outcomes, it becomes difficult to avoid thinking of worst-case scenarios, and doing so can potentially derail an anxious person’s drive to complete a task.

9. They’re aware of ulterior motives

As mentioned before, intelligent people often overthink off-the-cuff, innocuous remarks made by others. So when someone acts generously, a socially anxious person may get caught up wondering if there was some reason the other person was being so nice. This leads to a mistrust of the general public, regardless of people’s actual intentions. Again, socially anxious people think of worst case scenarios, and often let these scenes blind them from reality.

10. They get no rest

Since they tend to overthink every little situation they face, intelligent people’s minds are constantly working. This leads to burnout, insomnia, and undue stress that could have long-lasting negative effects on a person’s health and overall well-being. Although people with higher than average intelligence are overall grateful for the gift they’ve been given, I’m sure they’d like nothing better than to be able to take a few minutes each day and tune everything out.

Featured photo credit: Backlight of a teenager depressed sitting inside a dirty tunnel via shutterstock.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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