The term “Type A” has been a badge of honor worn by successful, results-driven individuals since the 1960s. Because they are very “logic driven,” Type A individuals can have a stagnant sense of wonder. Society at large often teaches them to minimize their sense of perceiving something unexpected in order to chase their next big achievement or goal. They often miss the beauty of small miracles in their everyday lives.
The key lesson Type A people need to learn is that somewhere, somehow in life something will happen and they will have to rely on others. These people are conditioned to think that if they take a certain action, it will guarantee a certain result. For example, a young Type A woman may believe that if she dresses pretty, gets a good education, and has a good job it will help her snag the perfect husband. Many single, mid-thirties women who have lived Type A lives now realize this just isn’t true.
Type A’s who eat right and exercise but get stricken with cancer are forced to reach out to others for a change. Life often reveals its wonder through the compassion of family and friends the Type A may have overlooked during his or her busy life journey prior to the illness. Some of these folks experience a heightened sense of wonder when their condition goes into remission. They feel a rich sense of joy and gratitude that they never felt doing their Type A tasks. Remission reinforces an awareness in them that the unexplained is often more important than the explained.
Once upon a time, I was a Type A. However, despite all my actions and accomplishments, I was laid off due to a bad economic cycle. During the mornings, which in the past would have been consumed with getting ready for work, I would sit on my back deck. I noticed for the first time some of the cardinals and sparrows playing in my back yard. I started taking morning walks to inhale the fragrance of trees permeating the air just after sunrise. I volunteered at a local church to help young children with math, marveling at how quickly they picked up concepts, and how they instantly expressed their new confidence with a hug or a laugh. I realized I had denied myself experiencing these moments of wonder by focusing only on goals that were helping businesses reach their bottom line.
During the forced reassessment of my life, my “true” friends stayed and those who were friends because of my title and status fell away. This weeding out process allowed me to invest more time in the friendships that nurtured me instead of the ones that had been superficial. The situation really made me appreciate the friends that remained.
Also, life may force Type A’s into situations so difficult that no matter what action they take, it doesn’t seem to help. These unexpected twists of fate may be telling them to rely on something other than themselves. Many struggle during this period, trying to break the ingrained habit of self-reliance by continually trying to take control. Life however, is a persistent teacher and will keep repeating the lesson until the stubborn Type A person finally realizes her or his constant goal setting is futile relative to the bigger plans of fate.
Type A’s don’t want to “wonder” what’s going to happen. They want to know what the end result will be. They want safety and guaranteed results. Very little growth can be achieved when we live our lives by left-brained formulas for success. The stretching of the spirit usually is the result of strife and pain that most people would not knowingly welcome, especially Type A’s. Life’s greatest gifts often come from unexpected but meaningful events – surprises from loved ones, spontaneous acts of kindness from strangers, and rebounding from disappointments. The sense of wonder a new mother experiences as she examines the perfectly formed feet and toes of her newborn can’t be anticipated. The sense of wonder a person may have as he or she anxiously awaits a blind date can’t easily be managed. The sense of wonder stirred by the aromas from the kitchen as your host lovingly prepares a feast that resulted from an impromptu invite can’t be purposely designed. Wondering if the person you have a crush on has the slightest bit of desire for you is a curiosity that can’t quickly be answered, no matter how urgently you would like it to be.
If you are an ex-Type A family member dealing with family members who currently embrace Type A, independent philosophy can be a challenge. Everyone has their path in life and just because you were shaken off the Type A train by your experiences, it may not be time for a family member to get off their Type A train yet due to lessons that still may need to be learned.
Families are often a reflection of what we are or what we used to be. You may see your past behavior in them and feel uncomfortable. You may try to accelerate their enlightenment by preaching to them about the detriments of stress and being Type A. However, they may still have things to work out on their path from their Type A journey to a place with more spiritual wholeness and letting go. It may not be your place to interfere. Give them the grace to make this phenomenal discovery. You had yours. Let them have theirs.