Blood Pressure - Type A and B Behavior

Research has proven that Type A personalities have much higher rates of high blood pressure and, consequently, more heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes than do Type B personalities. Not all Type As have heart attacks, nor do all Type Bs avoid them.

In addition, Type A people don’t seem to have ulcers, but they are ulcer carriers. Type A people pay a high price for their behavior. The life of a Type A personality is characterized by high discharges of adrenaline and cortisol.

They are likely to also have high levels of cholesterol, blood fat, and blood pressure, as well as high blood levels of the clotting chemicals that increase stroke risk.

These risks increase with age, so the sooner you do something about them, the better chance you have of neutralizing them. Type As are competitive. They have a very hard time listening and preventing themselves from taking control in conversations.

They never have enough money, a large enough home, enough friends, or enough anything else for that matter, because they are constantly competing; everything is a score to be beaten. Type As cannot relax.

A vacation with idle time stresses them because they interpret it as time with nothing to do. At social gatherings, they will not only turn a conversation around to the topic they want, they will dominate it as well; or they will eavesdrop, slowly inject themselves into a conversation, and then take it over.

Type Bs are the opposite of all the above. They enjoy recreation and can have fun doing nothing. They are not all wrapped up in their accomplishments and often don’t mention them unless asked. They seldom become angry or irritable. Relaxing or pursuing a hobby that kills time does not make them feel guilty.

If you recognize yourself in the description of Type As, compare what you have to lose to what you have to gain by changing your behavior. If that is not enough to convince you, think of what it will do for your health. You will:

  • Avoid high cholesterol and the need for cholesterol-lowering drugs in the future.
  • Avoid high triglycercides.
  • Avoid high blood pressure and taking drugs to lower it with all their side effects.
  • Avoid high blood sugar.
  • Avoid high levels of blood-clotting factors.

About 70 percent of personality is genetic. That genetic base is shaped, changed, and honed by our parents, peer group, and the practical needs to get ahead and earn a living.

If you can overcome half that inherited part (35 percent) and change the remaining 30 percent, you can convert about 65 percent of Type A behavior to Type B.

This is a pretty healthy blend that should allow you to succeed beyond all but a small percentage of the population and to live long enough to enjoy your success. Deciding to go from Type A to Type B is only the first step, but it is an important decision you won’t regret.

Making the change requires focusing on two behavior patterns from which most of the others follow: time urgency and aggressive competitiveness. In Type As, these patterns are compulsive; they do them as automatically as ducking from a flying object.

Time Urgency

Time urgency manifests in different ways—finishing other people’s sentences during a conversation; feeling fidgety while waiting, even when nothing can be done to speed up the process; arriving early for meetings, flights, and so forth; driving fast, always wanting to “make time”; and an inability to relax and enjoy unstructured time.

Decreasing time urgency means managing your time more effectively and working more efficiently. Set goals or priorities by the week or even the month, and use those to determine your daily priorities. Use a calendar rather than a stopwatch.

It is important for Type As to have a daily “to do” list based on the week’s priorities. Set time aside each day for the unexpected. If the unexpected doesn’t occur, use that time for meditation or other stress-relieving techniques.

Don’t use the time to get ahead on other projects unless they’re important for concrete reasons, not just those in your own mind. Screen the outside world. Put the answering machine to work.

If you’ve got a task scheduled and do not want to be disturbed, hang a sign that politely says, “Go away.” Stick to your guns, and people will eventually get the message. After all, you’ll have to train people to treat you as a Type B; they’ve only known you as a Type A.

Uncontrollable situations often trigger Type A behavior. When such situations occur, assess your priorities, in writing if possible, and compare them against your goals. Consider these three points:

  1. Can anything fail because it was done too well or too slowly?
  2. Should you decide when your workday will be finished before it starts?
  3. Should you work overtime on your project?

Each question can be usually answered no. You can’t control the uncontrollable, but you can control the way you respond. It will be tough at first, but it will slowly become your habit.

The second Type A behavior you’ll need to change is aggressive competitiveness. Type A people quickly become hostile and move into a competitive mode. When those feelings start surfacing, use them as your signal to relax.

Ask yourself some pertinent questions: “Am I trying to get this person to do something against his basic needs or personality?” “Am I forcing an imaginary deadline?” “Am I becoming angry or anxious because this is not moving fast enough according to my internal deadline?”

Recognize that many people either consciously or subconsciously try to precipitate an argument. So, you must instantly decide if entering the argument has any relevance to your objectives and priorities. In short, will it bring you anything you want or need?

If the answer is yes, then you need to figure out how to do it without anger. If the answer is no, shut up. We live in a Type A world, and living as a Type B takes courage. In addition, being a Type B is difficult for someone who is naturally a Type A personality.

Once you get started, however, you’ll find the change is an autocatalytic process—that is, it feels so good that it drives itself along. Now that you have decided to go from Type A to Type B behavior, approach social situations with the objectives you have established here.

Use them to listen to others and expand your awareness of Type B people. You will slowly find social situations more interesting and realize there are people all around you who are fascinating and who have accomplished impressive things.

Going from Type A to Type B is like asking people to give money to a worthy cause—most people mistakenly say, “Give ’til it hurts!” but the smart solicitor says, “Give ’til it feels good!”