From the Docs


What is a Type A personality? It can refer to a personality pattern associated with high achievement, multi-tasking skills, impatience, competitiveness and a need to control. Individuals with Type A personalities may feel more stressed than the average person, particularly because of a tendency to engage in achievement-oriented, and often urgent, behaviors. They are typically good at being timely, accomplished and efficient. That being said, they also frequently have a need to control — situations, people, time and other instances.

If you identify as a person with a Type A personality, you are probably good at managing and controlling most things around you. However, the truth that some people have difficulty accepting is, they have no control over many things. This lack of control can lead people to either become what we call “control freaks” or “worry warts.”

The bottom line is that they experience an increase in overall anxiety, which may take the form of ongoing stress, tension and/or worry. “Control freaks” often think that the more control they have, the more they can prevent negative outcomes. Relatedly, “worry warts” worry about anything and everything, as though thinking about all of this can help prepare them for any and all possible bad/worst case outcomes and keep them and their loved ones safe.

Unfortunately, none of this thinking is true and all that is happening is an increase in anxiety levels, which as we know, can lead to other negative health consequences (e.g., frequent headaches, digestive problems, depression, sleep issues, weight issues, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, among others).

So, how can Type A personalities cope with having no control?

• This is much easier said than done, like a lot of things, but the first thing you can do is learn to accept what has happened. Process with yourself, or with another person, how you can come to terms with whatever happened. Remind yourself that you cannot change the present situation. Some things you can tell yourself include, “I can’t change what has already happened” or “Obsessing about it will not change the outcome.” If you identify with any spiritual or religious bases, some people find, “This is destiny/God’s will” to be helpful.

• Be patient with yourself. Control what you can when you actually can, while knowing it can sometimes take months to accept situations you cannot control. Depending on what it is, it might involve a grieving process (e.g., loss of a loved one).

• Try to do something else instead. This could be something you actually do have some control over or a self-care technique (e.g., exercise, mindfulness, grounding yourself, etc.). It might even be a brand-new hobby altogether.

• Ask for help and support from loved ones. Be very direct about your wants and needs because no one can read your mind. It is your responsibility to share what your thoughts, feelings, wants and needs are. This includes how others can support you.

• Try to manage your stress level. Slow your breathing, take deeper breaths, move more, work on your sleep habits, use some grounding techniques, talk to someone, start therapy with a professional, etc.

• Get into or create a new routine. Try to structure your days to give you a sense of control and safety. This could be anything from meal planning, scheduling appointments, scheduling times to spend with loved ones, etc.

• Avoid self-medicating with alcohol or other substances. Even though these could help you feel better “in the moment,” using these actually disrupt the healing process and can cloud your judgment, especially since they can stop you from coming to terms with what happened.

• Do not make any major life changes. Your judgment may not be in the best place, but writing out all of the ideas that might come to you to revisit when you are feeling better could be helpful.

• Finally, don’t stress about stressing! When you notice that you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself what your stress is trying to help you accomplish and how you can try to cope.

If you need help with this or would like to speak more about anything mentioned here, feel free to reach out to the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB). PSB provides support to all members of the Sheriff’s Department, as well as their significant others. If you would like a confidential appointment or consultation with a PSB psychologist, please call the office at (213) 738-3500. To obtain additional information, you may also visit our intranet site at