Going with the Flow When You’re Type A

I am, for better or for worse, very Type A. I was joking with a friend that he was Type-Lower-Case-A and I was Type-Upper-Case-A. He then added that it was more like upper case, and bold, and italicized… and possibly with an exclamation point at the end too.

In a lot of ways, I’m glad I’m this way because I think it’s why I can get so much stuff done. Sometimes I’m envious of people who seemingly breeze through life. I always wonder how they get things done without being crazy controlling, but I guess that’s one of the greatest mysteries of life for me, haha.

While I’ve gotten significantly better about not being that controlling in my life, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I constantly have to work on letting things slide and going with the flow. My first reaction to any situation is to start a to-do list– taking a step back and (gulp) letting things just happen is not easy for me.

The thing though is that feeling like I need to be in control all the time is exhausting and frustrating even for me. (I wish I could let go sometimes!) And it’s 10x worse for everyone around me, so I do my best to put my need to be in control aside! Just because I’d like to know exactly what’s happening at every minute, it doesn’t mean that everyone else should be subjected to that as well.

Go with the flow

I think the first time when I really had to address the control issue head on was after college. All the way through school, being Type A was always a perk. My homework was never late, I  knew when the tests were, and I had my schedule mapped out perfectly. Starting a job though is when I realized that being Type A could be a problem. Of course, there were many benefits still, but I didn’t want to (and frankly couldn’t afford to) be that brand new employee asking my boss for more guidelines every two seconds. Long gone were the days of spelled out syllabuses and super precise essay instructions.

It does take practice, but I love that I can use my Type-A-ness when it’s a good thing and flip the switch off (or rather dim it down?) when I need to. It’s better for everyone!

But would I be Type A if I didn’t have a strategy for going with the flow? Here’s how I do it:

ONE // Control what you can control

This sounds completely counterintuitive, but hear me out. Whenever I feel the most out of control, whether deliberately or not, I try to focus on what I can control. This doesn’t mean going into list-making mode or trying to put things into order. Instead, I remind myself that the best thing I can control is my attitude. I prioritize that over everything else.

Traveling and your plane is delayed? You absolutely can’t control that (and don’t bother as we’ve seen in viral videos as of late 😳), but you can control your anger. Remind yourself that everything is going to work out and that focusing on what you can’t control, like a mechanical error or overbooking situation, won’t change anything. But at least you can be in a good mood while sitting in the airport! Treat yourself to a new magazine, get a giant burger and fries at one of the sit-down restaurants, whip out your computer and get a leg up on some work.

Has your office turned into a hostile working environment? There’s not much you can do about office politics, restructuring, or just poor management. You can control how you deal with it though. You can let it eat you up, or you can choose to rise above it.

There is something oh-so-satisfying for anyone (Type A or Type Z) to know that only you can control your attitude. It’s the first thing I reach for, metaphorically speaking when I’m in a situation where I feel out of control.

TWO // Volunteer to do something

So this whole thing is about how to go with the flow. Not, how to take over and drive everyone insane with a to-do list and a minute-by-minute schedule. But when the going starts to get rough, and you feel like you just can’t go with the ~flow~ for another five minutes… volunteer to do something productive and helpful. I would say that 80% of the time, this is me volunteering to get food or coffee for everyone else. Snacks and coffee go a LONG way.

Whenever I start to feel people dragging, either in a work environment or while traveling with friends, low blood sugar is almost always to blame. Or lack of caffeine. Or both.

Getting out of a slow-paced environment and having a task, however small, to complete always makes me feel better. (I sound insane typing this out, but I know there are other Type As out there who know exactly what I mean!!) And once the food and coffee hit everyone’s’ systems, the creative juices start to flow again and the energy levels rise.

THREE // Breeeeeeeathe

Someone wrote me at length about how breathing was not going to help anyone after I mentioned it once in a post. While I can’t speak for everyone, breathing exercises have been an incredible self-management tool for me. I hated it at the beginning, but once you figure out a routine that works for you, you can start to really get the hang of controlling your breath and ultimately getting your whole self back into control. Don’t underestimate the power of the breath! Controlled breathing is something everyone should learn.

My favorite is the 5-5-5 where you breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and release for five seconds. In a very short time, I feel calmer. Now that I’m better with the exercises, I can almost get a euphoric feeling of calmness really, which makes going with the flow feel second nature! It’s like tricking myself right out of my Type A-ness. It doesn’t hurt to throw in some mantras if you have any favorites.

FOUR // I think the final key with going with the flow is to “fake it ’til you make it.” At the very least here, you’re not going to drive everyone you’re with crazy with your micromanaging. I just remind myself over and over again, that everything is going to be okay in the end. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t the most efficient. It’s never that big of an issue when things don’t go as planned.

Do you have any tips to share?! Anyone else out there struggle to go with the flow? Or any Type-B-ers want to chime in with their secrets?!!?!

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I can totally relate with this! Thank you for all of the tips and next time I feel out of control I will definitely try that breathing exercise!


I can absolutely relate to this. I am majorly Type A and I often have a very difficult time going with the flow (struggling with that on vacation right now). Thank you for the tips, definitely going to use these!

Taylor |

Kristen from Pugs & Pearls

You’re speakin’ my language! I’m definitely a Type A. Somehow I’ve been able to tone it down over the years, but there are still occasions when I feel very out of control. I really like the tip to focus on what you can control. More often than not, you can’t do anything about it-so why get all worked up! Loved your tips, and keep them coming!

Randi Shaffer

I love the tip on trying not to focus on what you can’t control! I’m so ridiculously Type A that it’s not even funny… and the worst part is that my boyfriend is laid back and low key. For example, I plan all my meals out a week in advance, and then get irrationally irritated when he wants to take me out to a spontaneous dinner because, yunno, the half an avocado I planned on including in dinner will go bad! (Seriously, I know this is ridiculous.)

What works for me is scheduling time to be “Type B.” (I know, that’s the most Type A thing ever.) I’ll push to get all my chores/ tasks/ activities done in advance of a weekend, and then set aside a block of time to be “Type B,” and do fun spontaneous stuff and ignore responsibilities for a few hours to a day.


Katie | Katie's Kronicles

Reading this I feel like my boyfriend is totally type A and I am type B all of the way. Although I know the pain of planning out things like meals and having food go bad is the worst! When that happens I just try to remind myself it’s not so bad that I can eat it for lunch instead and it usually always works out in some way or another and that I got to have fun doing something out of the ordinary.

Katie |


Thank you for the opposite perspective on this! I always feel like such a horrible person for complaining because it’s such a sweet gesture. I’ve been getting much better about shutting up and throwing my dinner in the freezer for later, but habits are hard to break! 🙂


Thank you so much for this post! I’m going through a situation at work today and have a similar personality type so this was perfect timing for me. It’s a great reminder to rise above the craziness and stay calm. Love your blog 🙂


Breathing exercises have been a game changer for me too. I find that they can help me focus in on seeing a situation from an outsiders perspective, gain clarity and be able to control my thoughts/ feelings. I remember being skeptical at best until I was stuck in an elevator that went up a couple floors then dropped and the emergency break kicked in. I shut down started counting my breathes and was in complete control until the NYFD came to save the day. Ever since then I have been a believer!


Breathing and relaxation strategies are absolutely crucial, and are a large part of what I use to teach kids how to manage their anxious or worrying thoughts! That helps, along with realizing that not being able to control everything gives you the freedom to work with what you can. I learned that the hard way teaching middle schoolers, and it has been super beneficial in other areas of life!

Taylor Martin

Hi Carly! Love this post. My entire family is type B, so I will never know how I ended up being so Type A, hah!

In regards to the breathing exercises – I teach and take yoga regularly and I love sharing how breathing is the most critical part of our practice and how we are not to take it for granted. It can instantly help you feel grounded and level your anxiety at the same time.

Thanks again for sharing Carly!



It’s like I wrote this myself! I need all of this sometimes when I need to go with the flow!


Oh my gosh as a fellow Type-A personality, I love this! Volunteering to do something helps me feel more in control of the situation too and totally agree that breathing can help so much- sometimes just taking a step back to refocus can be so helpful!


Jessica - Room for Gelato

Carly, thank you for this post! Coming from another Type-A person who loves control, your tips are spot on. I travel quite a bit and would break out in hives when something wouldn’t go according to plan. Taking 5 deep breaths has been the biggest life changing strategy. 🙂


I can totally relate to many things you said in this post, Carly! Like Randi commented, I also find “scheduling” time to be Type B works incredibly. I make time on weeknights for laundry and food shopping, so that way come the weekend I can be more spontaneous. Another thing that helps me is when I’m feeling stressed or want to control the situation, writing what I’m feeling down or the things I what/need to do. Then I’ll either crumble up the paper and throw it away or hide it away for when I’m reading to tackle those tacks. Writing things down helps get them out of your head so things don’t seem so urgent. I’m going to try to work on breathing techniques like you suggested!

Chandler Quarles

This is so great! I can relate on so many levels. Random: Have you ever taken the Enneagram personality test? I’d be curious what type you are. I’m very type A too (and also an Enneagram 3: the achiever), but learning more about my type has been really insightful in knowing how to be a more balanced human! And I love enneagram because it’s so detailed and shows what a healthy version of each type is like and an unhealthy version.


Control what you can control is the mantra I ALWAYS tell myself in situations like this! Especially when it comes to traveling, or things that I just have no say in. That tends to be when I get the most frustrated, or feel the most anxious, but I’ve been working on reminding myself that being frustrated will do absolutely zero to help the situation…and that seems to usually calm me down once I accept that! Love this post!

Olivia | Prep Essentials


When I took calculus in high school I developed all of academic related anxieties. My teacher was the most difficult calc teacher in our state but she was also extremely good at her job, and knowing that we were stressed out all the time would try a variety of things to help us calm down, the most common of which was to remind us to breathe. To this day I still use that as a coping mechanism when I’m hyper-stressed.


I read your blog daily, but never comment. Today’s post really hit home for me. I am very type A and its recently become a very big issue for my boyfriend. He has children so normally he appreciates me being so on it with school trips, baseball games, household needs, etc. Sometimes when I get high strung about keeping to a schedule or cleaning the house, he has to remind me to just breathe and that kids will be kids. I can be overbearing and he is very laid back. We’ve been at odds about our respective demeanors so I really appreciate your post and the tips. Thank you!


This is a great post! Thanks Carly! I especially love your tip to focus on controlling your attitude. This is always something I struggle with, but absolutely one of the best ways to ease anxiety. Another thing I try to do is remember all the times when I have done something spontaneous/unplanned and ended up having a great time.


This is awesome advice! I’m not sure what type I am, but I know it usually feels better for me to get my hands on a project instead of just chillin. “Chillin” isn’t in my vocab, frankly. LOL

Much love,
Ashley |


I LOVE THIS POST!!! I struggle with being too controlling in a lot of aspects of my life. But I too have learned these steps and it makes not only myself happier, but everyone around me happier too. Going with the flow is one of the hardest things to do, but it can also create some of the best memories! You are seriously so awesome and I love reading your blog every day!

Hayleigh Shobar

I so feel this post!! Learning how to let go of things beyond control and take a deep breath have been so valuable for me. It’s awful to feel your blood pressure spike when you get stressed but being mindful of those times makes it easier to get over them!


This is better than therapy! I use the 5-5-5 technique all the time. Another thing I do is put things I’ve already accomplished on my to-do list and check them off, so I can see that I’ve been productive anyways and take a breath. Have you ever done the Myers-Briggs personality test, Carly? I’d be interested to know what you are!

Christina //

Kaylee K

I am weird because I can go with the flow and go along with another person’s plan, but the SECOND I have a plan and things don’t go accordingly, I become type A, ha! Especially something like a delayed flight really just gets to me. I enjoyed reading this so thanks for sharing!



I really enjoyed reading this post because of how much I could relate to it. I’m definitely a recovering Type A, although I often fall back into old habits. I love your suggestion to only try to control what you can control because it’s such a positive and productive way of approaching unexpected situations.



I too also suffer from extra Type A, I have to have my lists and plans scheduled a head of time, and it gives me severe panic attacks and anxiety when I don’t have future planned out or if my plans change at the last minute. I seriously need to work at being able to accepting the unpredictable.

Alex C

Carly, you hit the nail on the head about being Type A! At first, I was always so proud to be so hyper-productive and I really appreciate the edge it gives me at school, but as I’ve started dealing with feelings of anxiety, it feels more like a curse sometimes. Your tips are very helpful though and it’s always nice to know other people are in the same boat 🙂


I’m generally Type B, but I certainly have my Type A moments. When I feel stressed or unsure or out of control, I first question if this will matter in five years, or even one year. Then I remind myself that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is that I learn something new or am reminded to be patient with others, for example. It helps! Keep it positive.


5-5-5! Whenever I’m doing guided meditation, I feel like I’m going to burst. I can’t breathe that slowly for some reason, perhaps I need more practice.
Mind The Medic


I’m a major type A personality as well and I hate it and I try and try to not worry and relax and not be impatient but I don’t know how and it’s so frustrating. Ugh.


Though I was once a skeptic too, breathing exercises are absolutely a tool that can be utilized to reestablish a more stable mindset. There is are a number of scientific studies that would corroborate this, but on a more simplistic level, if you are in the midst of an intense workout and forget to breath, your muscles might cramp or you may become light headed; similarly, if you are emotionally becoming anxious and overwhelmed and begin breathing only shallowly, your brain will equally be unable to function well due to lack of fresh oxygen. Such techniques certainly provide focus and comfort, but they have scientific benefits too!

Bridget Sciscento

I am very type-A and until this year thought that breathing exercises were silly and ineffective, but I recently began deep breathing more often and truly feel calmer. I wish I had tried breathing techniques earlier–my first three years of college.


Breathing absolutely, 100% helps me! When I get super wound up (whether it be from stress at work or because I’m anxious being in a big crowd or whatever), I literally hold my breath. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it until I’m about ready to pass out, which uh, doesn’t exactly help with the stress. Taking a couple deep breaths can make a huge difference.
And I’m sorry, but anyone who says something to the tune of, “X doesn’t help ANYONE with their anxiety!” doesn’t know jack about anxiety. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone else, and what works for everyone else won’t always work for me. Finding effective ways to manage is such a personal thing!