Modifying Type A Behavior: Learning to Listen, Learning to Love

Getting personal projects done on time and done well are important aspects of life for those with Type A tendencies, sometimes so important that they eclipse everything and everyone else. And yet we all know that life is so much greater than any of our present projects and that a flourishing life needs something more than projects that are bigger and better. The Gospel is clear. What we need is God and our neighbor. We need to learn to step out of ourselves and out of our own little worlds and into the world of God and the world of our neighbor, beloved of God. This suggests another kind of … [Read more...]

Stop Multitasking!

In a society that values those who can juggle multiple tasks at once, the title of this blog post is an affront to their sensibilities.  Multitasking is often considered a sign of virtue and hard work.  Yet, researchers have found the opposite to be true: multitasking has a deleterious effect on our meta-cognition as well as our ability to recall information stored in working memory. (Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, Hammerness & Moore; Harvard Health Publications). In other words, it hinders us from thinking about what we are doing and even remembering what we have to do! Since … [Read more...]

Changing Type A Behavior: Happy Memories, A Smile, and a Prayer of Thanksgiving

Sometimes, it’s necessary just to state the obvious: thinking about pleasant things helps us feel pleasant; thinking about peaceful things helps us feel peaceful; and thinking about stressful things can make us feel stressful. And all these endless variety of thoughts have a way of shaping not only our feelings, but also our actions, sometimes directly such as when we decide to eat this or look at that and at other times indirectly such as when our actions are clothed in gentleness and calmness or roughness and agitation. Underlying the Type A behavioral pattern are Type-A thoughts about … [Read more...]

Type A Behavior and Self-Criticizing Thoughts: Problem and Potential

Self-critical thoughts comprise a two-edged sword that can either lead to self-correction for the sake of a healthier lifestyle or to a deep, morose despondency that envelops the person and all those surrounding with a stagnant gloom. Those thoughts can be a positive force for those striving for perfection, but a negative influence on those who accept them as proof of incompetence, unworthiness, and unloveability. In the case of those with a Type A behavioral style, we encounter a third amalgam that combines both the positive force and the negative influence together. For Type A go-getters, … [Read more...]

Type A Behavior and the Answer of Poets and Ascetics

In addition to the practical steps I outlined in the previous post, it is often helpful to select appropriate quotes for repeating to oneself or keeping in mind in order to stay on the right track.  These may serve as a reminder in terms of orienting one’s thoughts toward positive change.  In their work “Reducing Type A Behavior,” authors Bracke and Thoresen provide a couple of short passages that are helpful in re-directing attitudes that have a profound effect on behavior.  The first offered by these clinicians is from the American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For every minute you … [Read more...]

Three Practical Ways to Modify Type A Behavior: Eating, Talking, and Thinking

Throughout this long series, we’ve been discussing how chronic Type A behavior is not a healthy behavioral pattern physically, psychologically or spiritually. The outline for this behavior should now be clear and crisp in the reader’s mind. We’ve seen where changes in orienting beliefs are necessary and where monitoring self can be helpful. It’s now time to turn our attention to some small and simple, yet also concrete and practical, steps that someone with Type A tendencies can take in order to change this way of relating to the world and others.In their work, “Reducing Type A Behavior … [Read more...]

Monitoring Self to Modify Type A Behavior

While Type A behavior is often lauded and promoted in contemporary culture, chronic behavior of this sort has profoundly deleterious effects on the individual. This is why cognitive therapy’s goal is often aimed at changing or altering these behavior patterns by modifying the way a person thinks about those patterns of behaving. Of course, behaviors and reactions often take on a life of their own that is often no longer under the control of the rational mind. Hence, the first step in behavioral change is awareness of the behavior itself. In their work, “Reducing Type A Behavior Patterns: A … [Read more...]

Repentance: the Path from a Type A Jungle to a Christian Paradise

Studies concerning Type A behavior have uncovered its relationship to certain core beliefs about self, others and the world. These core beliefs are essentially stressful and pessimistic lenses for viewing reality, leading to anxiety, hostility, and the fear of failure. As I’ve noted in other blog posts, core beliefs are learned in childhood and become firmly set as one enters adulthood. They are not only the foundational building blocks from which our own idiosyncratic worldview is constructed, but they are also the magnetic compass that we use to navigate our way through the world. According … [Read more...]

To Change Type A Beliefs: From Being An Island to Being a Member of One Another

The statement—“no man is an island”—has been attributed to the 17th century Church of England cleric John Donne and over the years has been borrowed by poets, lyricists, and theologians to express the notion that we are essentially relational beings and our existence as well as the quality of our lives is related to those around us. But for those who exhibit Type A character traits, this dependence upon others is often lamented, if not a point of conflict and tension.  Generally, Type A persons need to believe that their work, their accomplishments, and their destiny are essentially … [Read more...]

Learning to Sit at Christ’s Feet and to Hear His Words

For those whose lives are characterized by Type A behavior, there is perhaps nothing so abhorrent as inactivity or a hiatus between projects or sets of goals. Since their self-image is dependent on their activity and accomplishments, moments for reflection, contemplation, or stillness are perceived at best as idleness and at worst as a dangerous loss of self. Impatience with delays and a sense of time urgency are simply symptoms of overly identifying self-worth with accomplishments and viewing life as nothing more than a series of goal-oriented tasks. Unfortunately, this stance results in a … [Read more...]