What is the type A personality?
Type A personalities tend to be competitive, driven and critical. They work hard toward their objectives and tend to experience a lack of enjoyment once they accomplish their goals. These individuals are more likely to live life with more urgency, are inpatient, and get easily upset when things do not go according to plan. They also tend to link their self-worth with their accomplishments.
What are some of the key traits/characteristics of this personality type?
People with type A personalities tend to be high achievers and go to extreme lengths to achieve their goals and follow through on what’s important to them. Their determination and willpower typically supersede what others around them are willing to contribute to tasks, distinguishing them from their peers. They are so driven and self-sacrificing, that once they decide they want something they are likely to accomplish it at any cost.
Despite these strengths, people with type A personalities tend to have a significant imbalance when it comes to managing work and their personal life. Once they commit to achieving a goal, most other things in their life will be sacrificed to achieve it. They usually are highly involved in work, to the extent that it prevents opportunities for friendships, romantic relationships and activities for enjoyment.
How to manage a type A personality?
First identify the negative traits of your Type A personality that you would like to change. For example, maybe you notice that you are constantly stressed and worried, are isolated, or treat others in an aggressive way. Identify goals and associated behavioral targets to work towards them. For example, make a point to reach out to 3 friends, from your past or present each week by text, check in with them, and consider making plans to meet up.
Another tip to manage stress is to practice mindfulness and grounding techniques. This means engaging in strategies to help ground you in the present moment. The easiest way to do this is to ground yourself through your 5 senses. When you find your thoughts are racing, list 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. The theory is that your senses help you reconnect with your environment, pull you out of the chaos that has been created in your mind, and provides proof that the anxiety smoke detector in our mind pulled a false alarm. Basically, it’s an exercise proving that the threat-level in the environment is disproportionate to your reaction.
Third, be more self-reflective so you can live in a way that coincides with your values. Writing helps to reflect on your actions, thoughts, and emotions instead of living on autopilot. Writing is the practice of considering your reactions. Are you proud of your actions from this day? How could you do better? Writing helps to externalize and organize your thoughts. And in turn, you can begin the process of cognitive diffusion, which is when we make the distinction that we are not our transitory thoughts or emotions. Start small. Keep a notepad by your nightstand and do this for 10 minutes before bed. Keep a running note in your phone for a situation you want to try to see more clearly or further examine.