Lifestyle tips: Making your life less stressful

Do you value planning over spontaneity, or vice-versa? Counsellor Elisabeth Wilson explains how to make both work for you

Most people have heard of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, but few realise that his ideas still have lots to teach us today. In this 24/7, madly pressurised society, one of his theories about how people relate to deadlines could make life a lot easier for you.

Jung’s idea was that we relate to time either as a “P” or a “J”. I won’t bore you with what P and J stand for – they’re short for terms derived from psycho­babble and it’s irrelevant.

What’s important is knowing that Js like things to be organised. It’s essential for them to manage their lives. They want to reach decisions, get closure, move on. They need a plan and they need a timetable to achieve the plan. If you are a J, your energy will be leached away if you’re not allowed to follow your plan.

The Ps among us value spontaneity and flexibility over organisation. They need the freedom to go with the flow. They’d rather experience life than control it and they feel confined by definite commitments. They are energised by their resourcefulness – or, to put it another way, they pull their finger out only when missing a deadline could mean the imminent arrival of their P45.

Now take a minute to dwell on where you and your boss fall on the P/J axis. One P friend of mine transformed her working life by throwing a sop to her J boss. She started ­showing her complex schedules of work. She never followed them and continued to get results in the same haphazard way as before but, because her boss feels there is some control in her office, she’s off my friend’s case.

If your boss is P, what could you do to impress them with your spontaneous, off-the-wall ideas? Hint: lining up your paperclips in order of size is less likely to impress than suggesting everyone stands during meetings so they’re over faster and your P boss can pile even more into her day.

Elisabeth Wilson is a counsellor, psychotherapist and author of Stress-proof Your Life (Infinite Ideas, £12.99)

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