Is “Type-A” for Anxiety?

 
Can your Personality Type actually increase your anxiety?
 
You might have heard the term “Type-A Personality” before, but let’s see if you fit this personality type.
 
 

Type-A Personality Quiz

  1. Do you hold yourself (and other people) to high standards?
  2. Are you a high achiever?
  3. Do you consistently feel as though you’re in a hurry?
  4. Do you often have tense muscles, or find yourself clenching your jaw?
  5. Do you ever find yourself thinking of other things when people are talking to you?
  6. Do you believe that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself?
  7. Do you believe in the importance of multi-tasking almost all the time? For example, reading while eating, or sorting through mail while talking on the phone?
  8. Do you hate to be surprised?
 
If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, read on!  (Your personality is probably prominently a Type-A Personality.) 
 
“A” For “Anxiety”
 
Sometimes I joke with my clients that the “A” in this personality type really stands for “Anxiety”. While that’s not entirely accurate, there is a bit of truth to the fact that those who have a Type-A Personality tend to suffer from more anxiety than those who have other personality types.
 
Even though some personality traits can increase anxiety, it’s important to realize that personality traits are not categorized as either “good” or “bad”. In fact, Type-As have quite a few personality traits that are extremely positive and can be quite helpful.
 
The goal is to understand how to hone your personality traits so that they benefit your life in a positive way, without the negative side effect of increasing anxiety.
 

Independence and High Standards

If you are Type-A you are generally very independent. Because you’re constantly striving to do your very best, and because you set high goals for yourself, you’re probably able to achieve great things in your life. However, when taken to the extreme, this trait can drive you to become a workaholic, or to create a life in which you’re constantly exhausted.  When you have never-ending To Do Lists and push yourself a lot, you are actually elevating your own stress and anxiety.
 
If you learn to hone this quality, you’ll find that you’re able to focus on your work without overdoing it and becoming over-stressed. You can learn to give yourself a break while still feeling good about the work you do.  You might even get better at asking for help instead of having to tackle everything yourself.  However, it’s hard to do these things when you’re stuck in Type-A thinking.
 

All or Nothing Thinking

Type-As usually see situations as either black or white; there is no gray area. When you face problems in your life, you’re probably very practical.  But you may over-analyze a situation, trying to find the perfect (black or white) solution.  This is a setup for anxiety!
 
But once you hone this personality trait, you’ll be better able to analyze a situation and find solutions in the gray area without going into analysis paralysis.  You’ll learn how to stop a project when it’s good enough, instead of driving so hard on every last detail. You’ll also learn that the “gray area” really isn’t such a bad place to be … at least it is the place of less anxiety.
 

Decide to Change Your Mind

The negative aspects of the Type-A Personality are derived from the way you think.
 
It’s the way the neural pathways in your brain are programmed. As a holistic counselor who specializes in anxiety treatment, I often work with clients whose Type-A Personality traits definitely contribute to their anxiety.
 
Change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your life! Di Philippi, Holistic Anxiiety TherapistIt’s not about leaving your Type-A Personality behind completely – after all, that’s who you are! But it is possible to change your way of thinking which will lead to less anxiety.
 
Will it be challenging to shift your thinking? Yes, it will. And most people have a hard time doing this without some help. However, keep in mind that your thought patterns were formed over time, so they’ve become habits.
 
Questioning your Type-A thoughts and habits is the path to less anxiety.  Learning how to see things differently paves the road to more peace and calm.