Perhaps it’s because life is a never-ending journey of self-discovery, but there is just something about personality types and tests—think Meyers-Briggs, Enneagrams, and love languages—that we can’t get enough of. Another quiz worth taking? The type A personality test.
Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York City, describes type A personalities as competitive, driven, and critical, with a tendency to link their self-worth with their accomplishments. “They work hard toward their objectives and tend to experience a lack of enjoyment once they accomplish their goals,” she says. “These individuals are more likely to live life with more urgency, be impatient, and get easily upset when things do not go according to plan.”
- Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University
As with everything, there are pros and cons to embodying the type A personality. On the bright side, Dr. Romanoff says type As are high achievers and determined as hell, often going to great lengths to achieve their goals. “Their determination and willpower tends to supersede what others around them are willing to contribute to tasks, distinguishing them significantly from their peers,” she says.
That said, a type A’s insatiable drive comes at a cost. Dr. Romanoff says that once a type A sets a goal (usually work-related), it becomes the most important thing, and they will sacrifice other areas of their life, such as friendships, romantic relationships, and activities they enjoy to achieve it. A type A’s tendency to be “on edge” and try to control how things pan out can also affect their health. “When things do not go according to plan, they may have strong physiological reactions, leading to chronic high blood pressure (hypertension),” Dr. Romanoff says.
If you identify as a type A personality, you probably read the above description and thought: “Wow. This is so me. I feel seen.” First of all, same. Second, thankfully, there are ways to better manage the traits and behaviors associated with the personality type to create more balance in your life.
Below, Dr. Romanoff shares three actionable tips. But first, don’t forget to take this short quiz from Psychology Today to learn if you’re indeed a textbook type A personality or perhaps a more laid-back type B personality.
How to manage your Type A personality
1. Identify the traits you’d like to change
First, Dr. Romanoff advises identifying the type A traits you’d like to change, such as feeling constantly stressed and worried, isolating yourself, or aggressively responding to others. From there, she recommends setting a goal and behavioral target you’d like to work towards. For instance, if you’ve been hyper-focused with work projects and haven’t made time for friendships, a goal could be to reach out to three friends each week to check in and perhaps make plans to meet up.
2. Practice mindfulness and grounding techniques
For type As, it can be challenging to be truly present in the moment, which is why Dr. Romanoff recommends practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques. Specifically, she suggests using your senses to connect the present. “When you find your thoughts are racing, list five things you can see, five things you can touch, five things you can hear, and so on throughout your senses,” she says. “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 provide proof that the smoke detector in your mind pulled a false alarm.”
3. Incorporate more self-reflection
One of the tricky aspects of being a type A personality is that you’re not always aware that you’re being type A. To remedy this, Dr. Romanoff recommends doing more self-reflection to cultivate that awareness and begin living in a way that aligns with your values. Journaling is an excellent self-reflection tool to try.
“Writing helps to reflect on your actions, thoughts, and emotions instead of living on autopilot,” Dr. Romanoff says. Reflect on whether you're proud of your actions that day and what you could have done better. This ritual, she adds, helps organize your thoughts and realize that you are not your thoughts and emotions, a process called cognitive defusion.
To begin this practice, Dr. Romanoff suggests keeping a running note in your phone of any situation that comes up during the day that you want to journal about and try to see more clearly or further examine later. Then journal on that for 10 minutes before bed.
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