sakurablossom: sweater hands holding a mug of tea (hot tea)
[personal profile] sakurablossom
It's important for the HSP to realize that even if you cannot control the Type A environment, you do have the power to control your reaction to it. In this chapter you will learn various techniques, such as meditation and following a daily routine, that will help you cope with seemingly untenable situations. You can always take meditation breaks throughout the day and do slow abdominal breathing. Research consistently has shown that people who meditate experience significantly less stress than nonmeditators. In my research of Type A personalities, I observed that meditators had a decreased heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and anxiety level at a statistically significant level compared to a control group of nonmeditators (Zeff 1981).

Besides regular meditation, practicing specific techniques must be implemented to release the time urgency aspect of Type A behavior. In addition to the techniques offered in this book, you may want to try individual or group counseling, attending a Type A reduction class (usually given to post-coronary patients at hospitals), or attending a stress-reduction class. One of the benefits of the HSP's characteristic of being conscientious is the ability to follow through with integrating new techniques into your life to reduce stimulation. By regularly practicing stress-reduction exercises, you will lead a healthier a happier life.

Attitude is Everything

Before you begin learning the techniques that will help you cope more effectively in this Type A world, let's look at how your attitude affects your sense of well being. The HSP's desire to be conscientious and not make mistakes can create stress. When I was studying how to differentiate various personality types with Dr. Ray Rosenman, I remember listening to a recording of a Type A man. He had a relatively simple job with the post office. When asked if there was a lot of pressure in his job, he responded tensely "definitely." He had to put letters into different boxes depending on the zip code. He frequently became upset if he thought that he placed a letter in the wrong box. Throughout the tape as he discussed his job duties, he became more agitated.

Next, I listened to a recording of a man who was the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation. He calmly stated that his job wasn't stressful because he would simply write down his agenda each morning and complete the activities he had time for and delegate the other duties to his subordinates. If he didn't finish a project, he wouldn't worry about it. While certain jobs can create tension, the attitude that we bring to a job is the major factor that determines our level of stress.

These examples illustrate the importance of developing a positive attitude of acceptance rather than worrying if you have completed a job adequately. One HSP student told me that she would become extremely upset if she felt that she made mistake at work. She would agonize for hours about the possible errors she committed. After working with her for several months, she began to slowly change her attitude realizing that she could only do her best and try to let go of her need to complete each task perfectly. In the chapters ahead you will learn techniques to help you come to this level of peace.

I hope reading about our overstimulating world doesn't overwhelm you! Just take a deep, slow breath right now, and realize that you are learning new coping skills so that you can more easily deal with our Type A society.

The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide - Ted Zeff, PH.D. (pg 24-25)
sakurablossom: a ginger girl sitting on a dirt road, staring at the horizon (6 blossoms)
[personal profile] sakurablossom
I sas recently sitting in my car at a traffic light and noticed a very nervous-looking young woman in the car next to mine. Her radio was blasting loud rap music as she shrieked into her cell phone while simultaneously smoking a cigarette. She then flicked her cigarette butt out the window and took a gulp from a huge cup of coffee. As the light changed she quickly put down the cup and floored the gas pedal while still shouting into her cell phone. The car in front of hers was evidently moving a little too slowly for her temperament, so she began frantically honking her horn.

As an HSP, just watching the stimulation at the traffic light made me so anxious that I could feel the muscles in my body becoming tense as my hand grasped the steering wheel tighter. As mentioned in chapter 1, we are living in a fast-paced, stimuli-saturated world that is particularly challenging for highly sensitive people. As you can see from the story, highly sensitive people have difficulty being around stimulation. In this chapter you will learn many techniques to remain calm in over-stimulating situations.

When I teach classes on stress-reduction, I ask the students what they think is the most common way people cope with stress. Some of the response offered are the following: drinking alcohol, taking medication, shopping, watching television, working, surfing the Internet, and sleeping. Rarely does anyone come up with the correct answer, which is denial. For a non-HSP, it's dangerous to deny the detrimental effects of stress and overstimulation, but for an HSP it can be catastrophic.

I remember waiting in line at a store to pick up some business cards. The clerk was working alone behind the counter while the phone was ringing off the hook as more customers joined the queue. An irate customer demanded that his cards should have been ready that day. The frazzled clerk's face turned red as his voice began trembling with frustration and anger. When I stepped up to the desk, I tried to make him feel calmer by telling him that it must be difficult working all alone in such a stressful environment. In an irritated voice, he curtly responded that the pressure didn't bother him. However, time urgent behavior can create emotional and physical problems in our frenetic, fast-paced society.

Our Type A Society

Drs. Friedman and Rosenman wrote in their well-known book,Type A Behavior and Your Heart that the values of our society encourage Type A behavior (1974). According to Friedman and Rosenman, "Type A behavior has three main components: time urgency, excessive competitiveness, and hostility." Conversely, the Type B personality is characterized by the following traits: a relatively small sense of time urgency, noncompetitiveness, and lack of aggression.

Type A behavior is ubiquitous in America and industrialized countries today. In many studies over the last thirty years, it was found that the majority of participants were diagnosed at Type A while only a small minority exhibited Type B characteristics (Zeff 1981). According to Ethel Roskies, noted researcher of Type A intervention studies, the Type A characteritics of ambition, being goal-oriented, and time urgency are qualities that American society encourages.

While a highly sensitive person could be either Type A or Type B, the HSP is deeply affected by our Type A culture. The HSP can become easily overwhelmed and usually performs poorly when pressured by time, competition, and aggressive behavior. Since the HSP is easily affected by other people's moods, you may have a tendency to internalize the mores of our Type A culture.

Even the non-HSP can be negatively affected by time urgency pressure that is endemic in today's work place. According to Dr. Rosenman, if a Type A person succeeds in a task, it is in spite of the Type A behavior, not because of it. Interestingly, D.C. Glass reported in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology (1974) that the Type A subjects were less successful than the Type Bs in performing job-related tasks.

The Need to Disengage

As an HSP, you'll need to utilize specific behavior modification exercises to disengage from the Type A environment. Techniques such as mediation and deep breathing will help you disconnect from the fast-paced world we're living in. Unfortunately, most people don't want to modify their lifestyle, even if it's causing them tension and anxiety. However, one of the few groups of Type A people who have always been willing to attempt change were those who experienced a heart attack. When the dotors told those patients that if they didn't make immediate changes in their lifestyle they would die, the post-coronary heart patients participated in a Type A modfication program. Ah, now there's motivation to change! Likewise, HSPs should act as if their life depends on modifying Type A beliefs. If you don't implement lifestyle changes, you may be damaging both your physical and emotional health.

The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide - Ted Zeff, PH.D. (pg 21-23)


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May 2012

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