Monday, May 31, 2010

Type A Personalities and Frustration

Last night I finally looked up Type A personality traits.  I have always known I am something of a perfectionist, I like routine and schedules and planning and get great satisfaction from checking items off of my to-do list.

But I've been frustrated lately.  There just hasn't been enough of me to go around.  It's a horrible feeling, and I've taken it out on my family some too.  I have a short fuse when I'm tired, and I've been tired a lot lately.

So, I thought hey, I'll look up Type A personality traits.  It was kind of I really? Will it explain why I've been struggling so much?

Well, in a word, DUH.

I did some reading but the first place I clicked was and found this.  I've highlighted the bits that are particularly pertinent to yours truly.

Type A characterized by:

•Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little of it they have to spare.

•Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse’, for example.

Additionally, Type A behavior often includes:


•Strong Achievement-Orientation

•Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years
Physical Characteristics:

The following physical characteristics often accompany TAB:

•Facial Tension (Tight Lips, Clenched Jaw, Etc.)

•Tongue Clicking or Teeth Grinding

•Dark Circles Under Eyes

•Facial Sweating (On Forehead or Upper Lip)
I realized that I am very much a results based achiever.  I see things that need to be done and unless they are completed, I have failed.  It is why I struggle with time management - I get frustrated because I've made my list and planned things out and yet - still not done.  So when I'm trying to keep up with the house and the kids and the yard and promotion and WRITING - I often feel like I've failed because while I succeed at one, two, three, or even four things (on a good day), if ONE has slipped, I haven't gotten the results I wanted. 
It's not that type A is all bad.  Drive and ambition are good things.  Hard work is a good thing. If I weren't so stubborn, I would have given up on a lot of things long ago, and I'm so glad I didn't.  And I DO know how to relax.  I love to relax.  It is why I do not work evenings or weekends unless absolutely necessary - and let me tell you, absolutely necessary means my editor tells me it's an emergency and she needs it by Monday full stop.  I enjoy a glass of wine, a bath, a walk in the sunset, a cup of tea on the deck.  I do not take work on vacation. 
There are also times I can let things go.  If it doesn't get done, the world isn't going to end.  But eventually that doesn't work anymore and the frustration mounts and I get tired and short tempered and overwhelmed.
Have you ever noticed how your partner can drive you crazy because you are like yin and yang?  There's a reason for that.  It's called balance.  If I'm the high strung crazy lady with the never ending to-do list that blows her top, my dh is the low key, work through it and keep it in kind of guy.  Yeah, that might drive me crazy sometimes but he keeps me balanced.  And he's been away a lot lately for work, and I think a big part of my frustration is that he's not been here to keep me balanced.  Yes, I've missed the helping hands.  But more than that, I've missed the person sitting next to me on the couch in the evenings, or his face across the table at dinner, or the snuggle at the end of the day before I go to sleep.  The to-do list doesn't matter then.
This weekend showed me I reached the point where I really need to chill out.  Not sure how well I'm going to do with it, because I still have a huge list.  Sometimes I just forget that it's okay to just do the best I can and give myself a break.


  1. Bev Pettersen11:54 a.m.

    Aw, Donna. It's so hard and life is always so busy but I'm constantly amazed at how much you do. Bet that post was somewhat therapeutic to write. Yay for Type A people--they get things done!

  2. Ah Donna - I feel your pain. I am an A Type as well. It isn't always a good thing. I've got a dentist appointment tomorrow to get another crown - have now cracked 3 teeth because of clenching. And yes it is frustrating because we can't do everything we want to. But clap yourself on the back - you DO get amazing things accomplished! When you REALLY want something it is bloody well GOING to happen. :)

    Fellow A Type

  3. I admit, I am very much Type B and am sometime jealous of Type As who seem to have much drive to "get it done."
    I have learned to search for my own motivations (aka treats :-)) and that I work well with frequent breaks rather than powering through work.
    It's good that you took the time to understand yourself. It takes all types to make the world go 'round. :-)

  4. I need my partner there to keep me balanced. It's funny cause we're both so independant and we spend our evenings in our seperate rooms (he likes to watch horrors *eww*) but knowing the other one is there - it's a really nice feeling. He has a month of night shift coming up soon and I'm so not looking forward to it (the overtime wage however will be much appreciated)

  5. Hugs, Donna. It's the same in this house (though my personal Type B did something VERY stupid with my computer, which is not a good idea at any time but even worse if it's the day before a book is due, cough). Hang on in there!