Are you a neophile?

A neophile is a personality type with a strong affinity to novelty. Neophiles hate repetition, routine and tradition. They become bored easily and may have a dislike of commitment. We all know people a bit like this, they’re really hard to pin down and appear to lead exciting lives moving from one adventure to the next. The neophile is the extreme sports enthusiast who can’t sit still or the person who works in a dangerous job that takes them around the world. Whilst they might be annoying because you can’t get them to come for dinner, it is these people who have discovered new lands, invented machines and taken humans into space. However, it’s not all glory. The neophile could find it hard to be in a long-term relationship missing out on the joy of deep and meaningful companionship. They may be attracted to a life of danger and engage in criminal activities and they have a higher tendency for substance abuse.

On the other end of the spectrum is the neophobe: someone who fears change, who thrives in routine, dislikes meeting new people and will not step outside their own comfort zone. They are dependable, sensitive and organised. However, the neophobe, without challenge and change, will fail to grow and develop. Without pushing their boundaries their internal walls become closer and closer. We can see this in people with social anxiety, agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Most of us don’t sit on an extreme end but you might identify with some of the traits. Humans can naturally be resistant to change for very good reasons. We don’t like change that harms us, or if there is no benefit to us, especially if it involves more work. For example, the collective eye roll at work when talk of restructure is in the air, which will quite probably mean more work for less pay. Most of us do however like positive change and variety. Overeating at a buffet is a common trait because of the variety of choice, and moving into your first home can bring great feelings of achievement and pride.

Unfortunately, life inevitably involves positive and negative changes and unless you are a full blown neophile this can sometimes be hard to cope with, especially if you err towards the other end of the spectrum. If you like life rigidly ordered and struggle to cope with change you will become frustrated. The world will not meet your expectations and people will not play by your rules. This is where developing your ability to think flexibly can help.

Flexible thinking is a cognitive ability that is a result of both nature and nurture. It is the ability of the brain to transition from one concept to another, to overcome responses that have become habitual and to adapt to new situations.

Learning to think flexibly will help you in social settings, make you a better problem-solver and keep you cool in times of change, allowing you to go with the flow and adjust to new situations. Trying new things and attempting to understand other people’s perspectives will help you to develop. Essentially, improving flexible thinking means stepping outside your comfort zone, for example accepting a party invitation, breathing deeply when someone messes with your ordered cupboard and reading a different genre of book. By not resisting new ways of doing things you will gain a new perspective on change. Remember practice makes progress.

Sometimes it can be hard to push ourselves. If you would like help to step outside your comfort zone, hypnotherapy can help you to push yourself gently in a direction that will enable you to grow.