Is Workaholism a Real Addiction?

Is Workaholism a Real Addiction?


So, what is workaholism? Well, if we think about somebody that has
a drink for the first time, that person may have the drink and then think, “Oh, this is kind
of fun and I may do it once in a while, or maybe I’ll do it occasionally, or never, I
don’t like it.” But alcohol takes a place in their life. Somebody else has a drink, and they immediately
get a secondary benefit. They either are able to be a certain way socially
that they couldn’t be before and they want that, or there is a break from some sort of
pain or something that’s haunting them and that’s nice to get. In either of those cases or other similar
experiences, alcohol takes a different place. It takes almost a medicinal place in that
person’s life. Well, work can actually be the same thing. In some cases, people that show up with workaholism
have this internal binary thinking that I’m either making money or I’m gonna go broke. So, that’s like that second group of drinkers
that are getting this benefit. They are not working as a way of enhancing
their life. There’s this fear, sometimes rooted in tragedies
that happen in families or just coming from a particular group where there was a lot of
pain as a result of not having a lot of money or means. And so, this can be a really strong force
that demands that you work really hard all the time. Another ripe area for workaholism is if there
are–this image that really helps is this tsunami, this avalanche of things, emotional,
physical, relational experiences that are haunting us, that are sort of chasing us. The image that’s often used is like, if you’re
running down some train tracks and there’s a train coming at you. Well, if that’s the case, you just don’t stop. You have to keep running because if you stop
you’re gonna get run over. And work, like alcohol or drugs or any other
addictive behavior, can give you a certain escape from that. It’s like running on the track. Now, of course, there are an infinite number
of presentations that can happen for any person and I wanted to share a story of a client
that I worked with recently. He is an incredibly successful person, and
this person some years ago realized that they were part of that first category of people. Because of things that had happened to him
as a teenager, he had this deep-seated fear of being bankrupt at any given time, no matter
how much money he made. And when he realized that that was motivating
him, he reports that since that happened he has been more successful than he has ever
been before. He works more than he’s ever worked before. But work is no longer a burden to him. And the reason I tell you this story is because
finding out what motivates our behavior, what motivates us to work in the way that we do,
can give us a certain freedom. If that freedom means working less, or maybe
moving and living in a cave somewhere as a yogi? Fantastic. And if that freedom means working more but
having work not be a burden, that’s just as great.

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