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Getting to Know My Neighbor in Type B

As a self identified "Type A" behavior "enthusiast", getting to know my neighbor in "Type B" might help me get a handle on why I too often feel like I am banging my head against a wall at work.   

But before I get too far, after all, there are a bazillion "self assessment" tests out there from, "What potato chip flavor are you?" to "Which Prince outfit are you?"

In the 1950's, two cardiologists, Friedman and Rosenman used Type A and Type
B as a way to describe behavioral responses associated with how male patients with heard conditions responded to stress in their waiting room.   

They observed that some of the men actually wore down the edges of the seats from sitting poised on the edges of the seat and jumping up frequently, (labelled Type A) while others were able to relax in their seats and the wear on the chairs was focused more evenly (labelled Type B).  

They went on to investigate further, testing and proving at that time, that men who were considered to exhibit Type A behavioral responses were twice as likely to develop heart disease.

While there are a number of factors at play in this experiment, including not factoring in women or exploration of stress reducing strategies employed by the subjects, the "Type A" and "Type B" continue to act as a guide and are presently, more considered as responses to stressful situations unique to a particular individual.  

Type B Behavior

"Type B" behavior includes working steadily toward something that may or may not be a well defined outcome.  Creativity and ideas flow freely and plans are adapted and changed without much stress.  

There is more "go with the flow", to find great solutions with little concern and they are very slow to anger.  It may take much longer than expected to complete something but that is considered part of the process.  

Perhaps the biggest contract to "Type A" behavior is  "Type B"'s ability to shrug off the physical or mental stresses associated with not achieving a goal.  They tend to say "Oh well, I did my best." 

Can you Be Both Type A and Type B?


I have to agree with this shift in belief from "Type A" and "Type B" as personality types that can predict heart disease to looking at them as behaviors in response to certain situations.  

I believe this because I exhibit both types of behaviors in response to different situations and my ability to successfully manage the resulting stress.

For example:  

After two years off work, loads of therapy and self-reflection; good medication, meditation and yoga, my return to work was graceful and peaceful.  I had a fabulous tool box of stress relievers and I watched as some people spun at work in frustration, indecision, and misery.  

The organization had part of me, but I was not part of it.  I did what I could and let the rest go.

At home, I took up knitting while I was off.  As I learned and made mistakes, I often ripped out completed projects because I thought I might try them again with all I learned after my first attempt.  My family couldn't believe I was ok starting over again --but for me it was the creative process--not to the goal or the outcome. 

I was not ripping them out because they weren't perfect, I just wanted to apply what I learned and try again.  

I have a giant bin FULL of wool to prove that I don't need to finish everything I start (thought I do need to stop buying wool....but I get caught up in the creative "what if...."  --typical "Type B" behavior.

When my role at work shifted, and the demands on my time due to a colleague quitting meant pressure on my time, I continued to dive headlong into my toolbox for stress relief.   However, meditation started to feel like it needed to hurry up and I found myself watching the clock in yoga class.  

And then I stopped being able to get to sleep at night.  



Back were the long rants--scripting and re-scripting the perfect tirade my mind became consumed with trying to figure out a way to prove to everyone that their fuckshittery was debilitating to getting things done.  Eating and writing became a waste of time and lunch hours reverted to grocery shopping or plowing through in hopes of leaving early--which never seemed to happen.

I met with a former colleague for lunch just this week and she told me that she works harder and longer for less pay at her new job...but what she has saved in her mental health is priceless.  

Perhaps instead of looking for what is broken in me that I succumb to stress in my current workplace, I consider that it is just not for me.  It's not a failure on anyone's part...it is just a bad fit.  

The good money, the excellent benefits, the flexible hours---these call at me and my logical self squints at me when I consider leaving saying, "ARE YOU CRAZY?" 

And being off work with a note from my psychiatrist proves, maybe I am, but maybe........ because I continue to try to make it work.



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