I’m assuming if you’re reading this article, you’re also a Type A. Welcome. You’re in good company.
Let’s be real right off the bat: sometimes being Type A is hard. Sure, we’re really good at doing well in school, excelling at our jobs, achieving our goals, etc. etc. but we’re really, really bad at letting life happen & going with the flow. And while it’s good to have our strengths to help us out in most areas of our lives, if we can’t go with the flow & accept the unpredictability of life, we’re going to be miserable. No matter how organized/color-coded our planners are.
Personally, as a Type A pseudo “adult,” this go with the flow thing has really become a challenge in the real world. I want all the answers. I want to know how it all plays out. I want a plan that I can follow. I’m good at plans. Plans make me happy. But life never goes according to plan (duh).
True confession, in the past, I’ve tried to find the answers via Google. I’ve literally Googled “how to be patient,” “how to trust life/the universe,” “how to not freak out when everything isn’t going according to plan and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing,” etc. etc. And honestly? All the articles I found were bullsh*t. They didn’t help at all. (They said things like “just let it go” and “be patient.” OKAY, SURE RIGHT. GOODBYE.) So I decided to write my own guide about how Type A’s can go with the flow (which is hilarious because of course Type A’s need a GUIDE on how to LET GO. The irony is not lost on me).
Now, this is not a comprehensive cure-all guarantee. Obviously, my experiences are very different than yours, but here are a few things I’ve learned (the hard way, mostly) & some things I’ve personally done to help myself cope with uncertainty and “let go” just a little bit. I hope it helps. If not, you can put me in the bullsh*t category with all the other Google articles ;) Enjoy.
Recognize the mess
Life. is. messy. It’s complicated. And complex. And sometimes just one big, hot mess. As Type A’s, we hate messes. We want things orderly, according to our plans. Messes make us anxious. All we want to do is clean it up.
But life is a mess. It can be a beautiful mess, but it’s still a mess. First, just recognize it. I’m not asking you to accept it or be okay with it or feel good about it, just recognize it. Call it what it is. And now let it overwhelm you. Like really let all the anxious feelings come in and maybe even dwell on them for a while. Recognize those feelings. And now let them pass (because they will pass).
As Type A’s, I don’t think we’ll ever be truly satisfied that life doesn’t fit into boxes or schedules or plans. But simply recognizing that life IS a mess gives us an “answer” as we constantly try to “figure it out.” And truth be told, while we may hate the mess, the messy parts of life are what makes it exciting. We’d probably be really bored if everything went exactly according to our plans. Every other part of our lives–from our apartments to our social plans to our work schedules–is neat & organized, so let the the ebb and flow of life be a mess. Balance, right?
Create structure where you can
As Type A’s, structure & planning gives us peace of mind, so create it where you can. A big area where you can create structure is routines. Morning routines, nightly routines, work routines, home routines. Routines are completely in your control. Yes, sometimes things happen and mess up these routines, but for the most part, they are steady, constant and can ground you when other uncontrollable parts of your life get crazy. Create routines that make you happy and feel calm. If there’s part of your routine that pisses you off, change it. Feeling bored of your current routine? Shake it up. Again, this is one area that all Type A’s have control of so let’s get our peace of mind where we can get it.
You can’t change people
Listen, you can’t change people. Period. Inevitably, at least once in your life, someone will piss you off or make you sad or break your heart. People will make decisions that you don’t personally agree with or may not even remotely understand, but you can’t control them or their actions. You can only control yourself. I know, it sucks. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone just acted the way you wanted them to?
One way to accept that you can’t change/control other people is through compassion. I’ve found that when I’m angry or hurt by someone, by stepping into their shoes and attempting to see their point of view (like sincerely attempting to understand even if I totally don’t), compassion comes easier & it helps those negative feelings dissipate. It takes a lot of practice, but it does make it easier.
Don’t bang on closed doors
~When one door closes, another one opens~ K. *eye roll*
Take it from a girl who banged on a closed door for months. MONTHS. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It’s hard to accept that this door is closed with you so want it to be open, but you can waste your time trying to pry it open, or you could wander down the metaphorical hallway and find something better/more fun to do.
Sometimes the Universe closes doors & honestly, you just have to accept it. No matter how hard you bang on it, it’s not going to open until it’s meant to. Instead of pissing off the Universe (what good will that do you?), you might as well flow with it. I promise, it’ll save you a TON of frustration. And here’s the thing–sometimes that door re-opens. It may be at a really unexpected time in a really unexpected way, but yes, sometimes that door re-opens. And then there are other doors that remained locked forever (usually for good reason). If you’re stubborn like me, go for it, try to bang on the door and force it open for a while…but then just let it be. Often times it’s when you forget about banging on the door, it re-opens or you find a window.
In general, Type A’s care a lot. We’re worriers, anxiety-ridden messes most of the time & that usually comes with a lot of emotions. Personally, I’ve always been very emotionally driven/aware. So I started playing this game with myself called “What’s really wrong, Kasia?” I personally like figuring out why I’m feeling a certain way. The only person you can truly depend on to be honest with you is yourself. So get honest.
To do this? Dig deep. Dig reeeeaaallly deep. When you’re upset about something, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling xyz, right now?” The answer may be ugly. The answer may scare you a little bit or make you feel uncomfortable. (Don’t worry, no one will know the true answer but you. And maybe your therapist.) But I’ve found that once I can name what’s making me feel a certain way, it’s easier to deal with and move on. Simply identifying what’s causing you emotional turmoil makes you feel like you’re in control (Type A’s love control!) & you can make moves to fix it.
Healing is not linear
So don’t make it linear. As a girl who’s had her heart broken a couple times, I can tell you firsthand that healing is not a linear path and often comes with perceived setbacks, roadblocks, detours & breakthroughs. There is no shortcut for healing–the best way to get “over it” is to go “through it.” Even though you want a clear, straight path from “feeling bad” to “over-the-moon happy,” your heart is complex. Pain is complex. But the whole healing journey, for lack of a better term, is meaningful. Don’t force healing to be linear. Instead, approach it with kindness towards yourself. Recognize the twisty-turny nature of it.
Patience isn’t waiting around–it’s an action
I’m not patient. Honestly, I don’t think anyone is truly patient. I think some people are probably better at it than others, but if you tell me that you’re fine with waiting x-amount of time for something you really, really want instead of getting it RIGHT NOW, you’re a liar.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always happen the way you want it to (ha, shocker) & you’re forced to be patient. As a doer/fixer, stretches of stagnancy where I feel like I’m running into brick walls over and over, not getting what I want really frustrates me. I don’t just want to sit here and be patient.That just doesn’t work for me (or most Type A’s).
There’s a quote that my bestie Danielle shared with me: “Patience is also a form of action.” I literally have it written on a sticky note on my desk so I can see it every day. By practicing patience, I’m actually doing something. I’m saying, “Alright, I see it’s not my turn yet, but I will get there eventually.” It turns patience from sitting around, doing nothing and waiting into an action. Sometimes patience is actually a step towards getting what you want. And that small shift in perspective actually makes patience doable–and makes going with the flow a hell of a lot easier.
Type A’s out there, I feel your pain. And although we can’t change our Type A nature, we can all learn how to go with the flow just a little bit more. I think we’d all be a lot happier in the end. &.
P.s. Have advice on going with the flow? I’m always looking for it. Drop me a comment below.