Workaholism is often compulsive work and activity that's done to block unfelt emotions and overwhelm. For some workaholics it's a drive to prove themselves worthy by their work. Workaholism is a practical defense to avoid intimacy and conflict. Some workaholics are driven by a need to do "perfect" work or they are trying to prove their value to their bosses in a climate of workaholic values.
In some instances individuals are misperceived as suffering from workaholism when they are really turned on by the work they do. They are not driven by compulsive needs, they are not trying to prove themselves as worthwhile, and they are not seeking to avoid intimacy or conflict. They really love what they do. Often times these persons are creative types and are deeply involved in their work. They don't make very good mates for folks who have a high need for attention and intimacy. These work loving persons are really absorbed. Their relationships work better if they are married to persons who also love their work. The test here is that they are energized by their work, enjoy it, and don't burn out.
Cues for workaholism show up when persons obsessively seek more and more work even though these tasks are no longer enjoyable or rewarding. Such folks do not know how to relax.
Someone suffering from workaholism views vacations and relaxing breaks as "time wasters". A workaholic often feels trapped by free time. The difference between workaholism and working hard is the difference between a negative dire need and an enjoyable absorption.
Besides sometimes being subject to perfectionism, workaholics generally undergo burnout and much self-induced pressure. Persons with perfectionism often become involved in workaholism. Remember they're always trying to prove themselves.
In the first variety of workaholism, where the workaholic utilizes compulsive workaholism to avoid feelings, it would be good to discover what feelings are being avoided. These feelings require being fully felt so the compulsion dies away. Often these feelings may have to do with self-attack, anxiety, and loss. Collections of avoided feelings from traumas can be the driving force in workaholic compulsions.
The worksholism that springs from proving ourselves is based on negative beliefs we have about ourselves. We are not accepting ourselves here. We are rating our self up and down by what we do. This can be a key target for belief uncovery and processing. Breaking this self-rating and learning to accept ourselves is key here. Check out beliefs like: I must do _______ in order to accept myself. Or I'm __________ unless I do __________.
The feelings around these beliefs can be targets for processing.
The third type of workaholism motivation is avoiding intimacy and conflict. Learning to fully experience your feelings is useful here as well as learning to manage conflicts better. There are many excellent books on conflict management. Courses too. Also check out your beliefs and feelings about intimacy. Look for what beliefs may be creating your anxiety or overwhelm. The feelings attached to those beliefs can be good targets for integration.
Some general tips on handling workaholism:
Watch out for self-downing and self-labeling. Beware of self-demandingness. Example: "I should do a perfect job". Or "I must prove myself by my work." See the self-acceptance learn-in.
Be aware of starting a job and not allowing yourself to experience satisfaction until the job is completed.
Restructure your schedule and add rest and hobbies. Plan vacations even if that feels like time wasting. Feel your feelings around time wasting.
Be wary of corporate transfers. Uprooting someone from their regular home and family life can disconnect someone from their identities and make them more open to workaholism. Uprooting through transfer can be anxiety provoking. This can turn on compulsive work defenses.
Know your core values. What are your priorities?
Notice your positive, neutral, and not so hot traits and behaviors. What steps can you make to actively accept yourself and treat yourself in a loving and caring manner?
What stone tablets in the universe command that you must do great works and deeds to prove your self-worth?
How can you better delegate tasks and authority to other folks?
We actually do better jobs when we don't feel compelled or driven to do work. Our performances tend to improve when we are not under our whip. We need to allow ourselves relaxing breaks and to let go of demands for super human performance.
Are your long hours really productive? Can you your production be accomplished in a shorter time span without putting yourself under the gun?
What stress breaking measures work well for you? Relaxation exercises? Exercise? Vacations?
The workaholic, in cutting back on their schedule, may grieve lost work and creativity.
Processing the Workaholic Personality Cluster beliefs can be very helpful.
WORKAHOLISM: This cluster can be applied to those persons addicted to work activities to avoid feelings or to establish their self-value. Beliefs are:
I need to be work and to be busy to prove myself or to block painful emotions.
I can't stand relaxing or lolling around.
I must work or I'm nothing.
I can't help my overworking--I'm powerless.
I can't set limits on my work schedule.
I'm no good or a failure unless I'm working.
I'm not a workaholic--I can control my work schedule and handle any problem.
I can't cope without being busy.
I can't stop--why bother?
Once a workaholic--always a workaholic.
I can quit working when I want.
A little overtime won't hurt--what the heck.
I can control my working--I've got will power.
I'm not responsible for being a workaholic--I need to provide for my family. Others make me do this.
I only feel good when I'm working or busy.
I must make lots of money or I'm nothing.
I'm a useless if I'm not busy.
Relaxing and having fun is wasting valuable time.
Free time is a trap.
Even though I'm exhausted, I must work or stay busy.
Even if I wanted to relax, I can't--I must remain busy.
I am driven to succeed.
Relaxing and having fun--there's no time for that.
I must do a perfect job.
My family can wait--I must stay overtime.
No one else can do this job except me.
There is no peace or satisfaction until my job is completed.
I'm not an idler.
Work is my proving ground.
I can't say no to overtime.
The 60 hour week feels right.
Delegate authority? I'm the only one who can do that job.
My family is nagging me to come home before 10 pm--they just don't understand what dedication and excellence are.
Personality Cluster beliefs to be belief processed.
Workaholism often brings burnout. Persons, suffering from burnout, feel depleted and used up. They go through the motions and are beset by numerous stress related health problems. Some of the more common symptoms of burnout are:
Limited contact with family and friends.
Easy to anger.
Routine tasks become difficult.
More aches, colds, and headaches.
Feel pressured and without options.
No sense of reward.
Coversations become difficult.
Lack realistic priorities.
Anyone who's burned out might take stock of the beliefs and feelings that are fueling it. Frequently burnout is the challenge of those suffering from workaholism.
Take it easy, Steve