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Understanding the Dynamics of Workaholism

Understanding the Dynamics of Workaholism

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Are you a workaholic?

Working hard is not a bad thing. In fact, those who work hard often reap the benefits of their efforts. However, when work is all-consuming, it can be an unhealthy component of a person’s life. There is a thin line between a hard worker and someone who struggles with workaholism. Knowing the difference between the two will help you identify if your mindset has become unhealthy.

Work is essential for our well-being and identity. Most of us need to work to sustain a lifestyle that is desirable. A healthy mindset around working means knowing how to have a balance between working and maintain relationships with family and friends. Workaholism is an addiction that changes people’s personality and the values they have. Workaholics put work first because they have a distorted view of reality that makes them believe that working is the only way to happiness.

The Hard Worker vs. the Workaholic

A hard worker is emotionally present for their family, friends, and co-workers and manages to maintain a relatively healthy balance between work obligations and personal responsibilities. They may have periods of overworking to make a major deadline or an emergency situation; however, the extra hours are temporary. After the specific goal is met, they can return to a more balanced schedule.  Clinical psychologist Barbara Killinger, Ph.D., specializes in Workaholism and she suggests that every worker makes a resolution to save 25-percent of their energy to bring home every night. She also recommends blocking off weekends and not giving in to temptations to work on days off.

Workaholics struggle to make these distinctions.  Their minds are saturated with thoughts that pertain only to job performance and working gives them an adrenaline-high. Even after achieving one goal, they only move on to the next one and then a more ambitious one afterward. Staying stagnant is considered failing.

Workaholics eat fast, talk fast and cram as many tasks as possible into their schedule. While they tend to have good multitasking abilities, over time even the best multitasker will falter. This leads to even more performance anxiety and growing internal chaos as they focus on controlling every action and everyone around them. They must do things better than everyone else

What Causes Workaholism?

Insecurity and fear often are the root causes of workaholism. Workaholics may have had to provide for a long time or may have struggled financially in the past. They feel that they must work hard in order to maintain their financial stability. Many workaholics grew up forced into adult responsibilities because of unfortunate circumstances such as parent’s illness, death in the family, or parent separation. On the other hand, a workaholic may get their intense drive from growing up in a family that placed high importance on accomplishment and academic achievement.

Here are four common Fears Workaholics Have

  1. Fear of Failure: Workaholics have a major fear of failure. They strive to be high-performers, and a failure would be considered a betrayal of their image. The ultimate fear is to be fired or let go. Any sign of failure will result in a very high emotional reaction.
  2. Fear of Boredom: Workaholic bore quickly. They make snap decisions and enjoy the adrenaline rush of over scheduling obligations. They use work as a distraction when life starts to unravel. Their blunt, sharp responses make others nervous.
  3. Fear of Laziness: Workaholics feel alive when they are pumping adrenaline and are attacking new goals. Anxiety is provoked when nothing is scheduled. Their expectations are high because they very much detest laziness.
  4. Fear of Discovery: Workaholics worry about the visibility of their insecurities. They want to continue to work hard to “look good” in the eyes of others. Taking a long vacation could jeopardize their coveted reputation of being a hard worker. There is also a risk that their mistakes and cover-ups will be exposed. Workaholics want to create the illusion perfection to others and in the process have a distorted view of themselves.

Overall, workaholics struggle to have a work-life balance and put others as a priority. It takes time to let go of the desire to work hard. It is even more difficult to understand the difference between workaholism and working hard, however aiming for a healthy balance is key. If your workaholism is taking over your life, we can help. Call now.

Author: Shernide Delva

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