Are you "enjoying"
TOXIC (poisonous) success?
(toxic success = a lack of delight in daily living and the illnesses that go
hand-in-hand with too much juggling, too much work
and too little play; taken,
with thanks, from Dr Paul Pearsall's book of the same name)
Did you know it's not really about having a Type A personality? No. It seems
that Type As (the driving, workaholic types)
survive heart attacks twice as
often as Type Bs (the more relaxed, less ambitious types).
Type A is NOT a risk to health. No - the danger of Type A is that it KILLS Type
Bs. Its actually much more dangerous to be
a Type B LIVING with a Type A!
Except, that is, for hostile Type As. Yes, hostility - the three components are
and aggression - has proved to be very dangerous to the health
of such Type As.
Angry hostility (actually not an emotion but an attitude) places us in a double
bind: both holding it in and venting it are bad
for the heart and the immune
system. Research indicates that people who suppress angry feelings
are more likely to get
cancer (Type C) while people who are frequently angry at
others (often a Type A behavior) are more likely to get heart attacks.
It's not just any kind of hostility and anger
that bodes poorly for the health of one's heart, but rather a particular kind:
cynical hostility. It is characterized by suspiciousness, resentment, florid
displays of anger, antagonism and distrust.
These people have difficulty making
friends or maintaining relationships.
However, there are gender differences in the way
Type A is expressed - and hence differences in the health challenges.
A Type A
personality in men is fairly consistently related to cardiovascular
(heart/circulation) responses to stressful
challenges or competition whereas
Type A personality in women appears to be related to measures of daily stress
and tension. Male Type As find challenging response time tasks stressful (this
translates to deadlines at work) while
female Type As find verbally challenging
interaction (meetings, presentations, debates) stressful.
here for more on health issues.)
Furthermore, there are gender differences in
emotional reactions. The Type A personality for men involves a competitive
orientation toward life (including suspiciousness) whereas the Type A
personality for women tends to bring up reactions of
guilt and anxiety.
For those who tend to get angry, the secret is to
learn how to express
it without allowing your thinking to create
anger responses (either internally
or externally). For some, the inner change is to be LESS tolerant and forgiving,
to learn how to
express angry feelings in an appropriate way. For others (particularly male Type
As), the change is
to become MORE tolerant
and forgiving, to learn how to give up the hostility habit. Work through victim
attitudes. Here is a
twelve-step approach to doing so:
1. Monitor your hostile and/or cynical
2. Confess your hostility and seek
support to change
3. Stop cynical or hostile thoughts -
think of something else
4. Reason with yourself
5. Put yourself in the other person's shoes
6. Laugh at yourself
7. Practice relaxation
8. Try trusting others (start with small
things where you have little to lose)
9. Force yourself to listen more
10. Substitute assertiveness for aggression
(and find out the differences!)
11. Pretend that today is your last
12. Practice forgiveness (yes, just bite your
tongue and do it)
time you have a thought, there is a corresponding neuro-chemical activity that
creates emotions and physical
changes in your body. It can't be otherwise. Thus
the outcome is inevitable. Lopsided habits in thoughts create
imbalances in emotions and physical systems which then make the body vulnerable
So, Type A can be VERY good for you - its not stress of itself that is
dangerous. Being a workaholic is NOT a risk.
Being competitive is not a risk to
your health nor is being under stress. Stress is good for you! We have to have
We humans would die without ANY stress to challenge and interest us
its actually the stress that comes from having
a lot of responsibility without
power that kills.
It's DIS-stress that kills. You are the only one who can determine what amount of
work or stress is comfortable for you.
Some people thrive on 60 hours, some are
wasted after 35.
The stress that causes our problems is better defined as DIS-stress. In that
context, distress is like the warning light
going off in a car, telling us the
engine is too hot. Without it we will damage the engine, our mental health.
So DIS-stress is a signal that we are no longer in control. At what point did we
end up working in a constant state of
emergency and believing we cannot get
anything done without it?
This belief is destructive it spreads crisis-consciousness and heightens
stress levels. We end up unable or unwilling
to stop and draw a breath, stop and
think calmly about the overview or about different choices.
Over the long term, such stress builds up. This long-term, accumulating stress
results from the build-up of demands
and lifestyle changes this is the chronic
or drip-by-drip source of stress.
Living an overactive or striving life with inadequate time for rest and
reflecting over a long period can lead to dis-stress.
Some early warning signs
can be any of the following:
Physical - headaches can increase in frequency and intensity when under
pressure; muscle tension, most commonly
in the head, neck, shoulders and back;
significant weight loss or gain, skin dry skin, spots, irritation, rash;
problems of any kind including ulcers and stomach disorders; low
immunity to coughs and colds; and even heart palpitations
and some chest pains.
Emotional signals can include feeling irritable and short tempered, depression
or a general feeling of gloom,
loss of confidence; feeling drained and
un-enthusiastic; a sense of alienation.
Mental signs can include - lack of concentration, poor short term memory,
indecision even about little things,
bad decision making, and persistently
Behavioral signs can include tired all the time or disturbed sleep patterns
this could be insomnia or needing more
sleep or waking up tired; drinking or
smoking more than usual; withdrawing from friends, family or office
and even finding it difficult to relax.
Other signs could be - mannerisms like twitches, frowning, scowling or
nailbiting. Still others include things like poor
time-keeping and lack of
punctuality, becoming less sociable, making more mistakes than usual, poor
tendency to procrastinate, failing to meet deadlines, reduced
productivity, poor quality.
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