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Monday, August 10, 2015

Stress + Type A Personality

If you know me personally, you probably know that I am a textbook example of Type A personality. For those who aren't aware of the terminology, some common characteristics for Type A Behavior (TAB) are:
  • Competitiveness
  • Time urgency, impatience
  • Hostility, aggression
  • Perfectionist tendencies
TAB is common amongst many successful people, high-achieving students, my family and friends. While we have many traits that help us to aim higher and work hard towards our goals, there are downsides to perfectionist behavior. If uncontrolled, it can really affect your personal and work life.

And then on top of being Type A, my Meyers Briggs is an ESTJ. A lot of the ESTJ characteristics intensifies, or overlaps with, those of TAB, which isn't exactly great.

I'm the type of person who must be organized, have a sense of security, and make sure that everything (my academics, career, outfits, literally everything) is in order. I knew that this behavior of mine would really wear me out one day, but I didn't think that that day would visit me so soon.

There were a lot of reasons I was physically and emotionally stressed this summer: the incredibly hot weather in New Orleans (I was dehydrated most of the time), my job, not knowing many people in my neighborhood, preparing for junior year, and other personal matters. As a result, I felt really isolated, misunderstood, and undervalued. I wasn't happy and I couldn't really pinpoint the reason why.

One thing that took me a while for me to learn is that you can't blame others or anything for your stress. Yes, work or school or certain people can annoy you, but it is your responsibility to make sure that your stress doesn't ruin you. Your hardships should not affect your relationships, your work performance, or your priorities. This is easier said than done, but it is really important to keep that in mind.

It is possible to live happily as a Type A perfectionist and find peace. Here are five tips that I formulated this summer:

1. Maintain your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

People with TAB are usually hard-working, determined, and success-oriented individuals. Don't lose that attitude! Those characteristics are what got you to where you are today and will help you get to wherever you want to go in the future. However, do make sure that your goal-oriented tendencies don't get out of hand. Try to be more patient, less aggressive, and understand that things take time to achieve. Not everything happens overnight.

2. "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger."

That is actually a verse from the Bible (James 1:19). Regardless of personal religious views, this is great advice that can help you be less aggressive and maintain your relationships. Listen to what people have to say. Take time to organize your thoughts and formulate them into a nice, constructive sentence. Be empathetic and understand the other person's point of view.

3. Be responsible.

In other words, don't blame others for your problems. Be responsible in how you handle stress and hard times. You're not the only one who gets frustrated from work and trying to balance work and life. Life will throw you (and everyone) lemons, but you are accountable for how you handle them. Are you gonna squirt those lemons into people's eyes or make lemonade?

4. Control yourself.

Control yourself! By that, I mean that despite your inner feelings, make a conscious choice to put on a smile, keep calm and carry on. Try to be aware of how your actions affect others. This will eventually come naturally to you with more practice.

5. Try to be happy.

Release that negative chi. Be happy with what you've got. Don't take your anger out on others. Otherwise, you are the only one who's going to lose. Try to relax; read my tips on how to relieve stress. Find a healthy outlet for your feelings and frustrations, something that won't hurt people, especially your loved ones.

As I mentioned earlier, TAB is common amongst successful people in our society, but one thing that made them successful in the first place is their ability to handle stress and negative energy.

My five tips in this post are really easier said than done. I myself haven't mastered any of them, but I am really trying to make these changes in my life. I hope they can help you too.

With love,

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