Over the last few years, studies have been published against the notion of spirituality and the people who practice it.

Various studies have also expanded on this, in a positive light, and delved more into social anxiety and the way it affects people’s emotional intelligence, empathetic ability and IQ levels.

This isn’t surprising when you consider how anxious people are constantly analyzing and reflecting on their surroundings, formulating ideas and constantly processing information.

The studies

In a recent study on verbal intelligence, it was found that when people who reported suffering from social anxiety took part in psychological tests, their test was higher than those who didn’t suffer from social anxiety.

Similarly, those who suffer from General Anxiety Disorder and depression scored higher on verbal-linguistic testing than those who didn’t.

A further study from the SUNY Downstate Medical Centre in NYC stated that those participants taking part in an IQ test who suffered from severe anxiety actually scored higher than those who didn’t have anxiety.

Furthermore, when tested, people who suffer from social anxiety were found to exhibit prominent empathetic abilities, meaning they have greater psychosocial awareness than their counterparts.

How social anxiety is linked to heightened intelligence and empathy

Taking into account these studies, it does make us wonder why exactly this may be the case. As people with social anxiety are constantly processing the world and their surroundings, they’re noticing the parts of the world that aren’t as they’re supposed to be.

They’re actively seeing dangers around them that others might not see, at least not straight away, and in order for this to happen, their brain must be intelligent enough to be able to carry out these actions.

High levels of anxiety can be paralyzing, but with that comes a great ability to perform in certain situations and what can seem like a negative emotion can actually be attributed to higher levels of intelligence.

People who are able to empathize to the height of their ability are able to intuitively ‘predict’ situations, which can only be an advantage in many situations. Going back to the introduction, this is where spirituality comes into play.

Higher intelligence and an ability to being highly intuitive have often been seen as being ‘spiritual.’ And with spirituality, comes much criticism through lack of understanding.

As more studies in this area are published, society and the media are becoming more understanding of spirituality as a field and anxiety as a mental disorder. Anxiety disorders are starting to be perceived as less of a problem and more of a working tool.

So if you’re socially anxious, bear this article in mind the next time you have unwelcome thoughts and take control of your emotions and surroundings.

Christina Lawson, B.A.

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