Sunday, May 27, 2007

For Workaholics

Working can be a way of avoiding issues, creating barriers between the people that we're in relationships with, a way of escaping other details of life, in general - in the same way that substances like drugs and alcohol can be used for avoidance, blocking relationships, erecting barriers, and denying life's other details, too.

Here, like with 'shop-a-holics,' we are focused on the 'behaviors' of people who might not be using substances like drugs or alcohol - but who exhibit similar behaviors, for similar reasons as drug addicts and alcoholics do.

A lot of people won't accept 'working too much' as an actual problem, however, the behaviors that people obsessed with work display and experience - often inhibit their enjoyment of life, their actual contribution to society in other important life-realms besides the work/job fields, and their abilities to connect with people and hone healthy relationships with people.

There are good reasons to incorporate a 12-Step approach where 'Workaholic' behaviors are present - even where the presence of mood-altering substances is not a factor - because 12-step information and practices can help the workaholic to start dealing with avoidance, escaping, barriers and relationships again.

Workaholics have the behavior of 'working compulsively'
Shoppers have the behavior of 'shopping, spending compulsively'
Addicts and alcoholics 'use compulsively'
Sex addicts compulsively engage in sexual activities or obsess in the mind, compulsively, about sexual-related things.

Just because some of these things don't include 'substance abuse' - this doesn't mean that they aren't troublesome and in need of correction in our lives.

"Behavior-holic" behaviors can cause the same kinds of damage that drug and alcohol abuse can in the lives of the individual as well as that individual's family, friends, co-workers, community extensions, etc.

Workaholism currently is not considered very seriously to be a problem and this is a dangerous assumption - for ANYTHING that interferes with a person's capacity to engage in healthy relationships and cope reasonably with life situations, should be taken seriously.

Of those who aren't struggling with whether 'workaholism' is, indeed, an issue to be taken seriously, 12-Step literature and principles are often a helpful 'tool.'

Here are some questions to ask yourself, if you're worried that your attitudes concerning work and job activities, your behaviors surrounding work and job-related details might be a problem in your life:

1 Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
2 Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
3 Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
4 Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
5 Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
6 Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
7 Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
8 Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
9 Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won't otherwise get done?
10 Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
11 Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
12 Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
13 Are you afraid that if you don't work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
14 Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
15 Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
16 Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
17 Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
18 Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
19 Do you work or read during meals?
20 Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?

If you answer "yes" to three or more of these questions you may be a workaholic. Relax. You are not alone.

If you answered 'yes' to several of the questions, WELCOME TO MY WORLD!


Since I stopped using drugs and alcohol, my life hasn't been perfect, by any means. In particular, my BEHAVIORS and ATTITUDES didn't become perfect just because I put the substances down. Some of the above 20 points weren't really in my life when I used substances, nor were they part of my life during early recovery...I actually TURNED TO SOME of those behaviors and situations in the 20 points after I was sober and clean for a while, ENJOYING RECOVERY - after I had enough clean time to APPRECIATE RECOVERY!

I STILL learned or turned to some of those workaholic behaviors...because even if they aren't 'substance abuse' factors...those things are EASY FOR ME TO FALL INTO - because I still don't have excellent coping skills for all of what life can throw at I run and jump into 'work' - which for me is my STUDIES...

Admittedly, though I am clean and sober, I am working on incorporating the information about 'workaholic' tendencies into my life...because - in the absense of the substances I learned to rely on for years - I will still find 'behaviors' to use that feel 'familiar' to help me HIDE from responsibility sometimes, avoid relationships sometimes, ignore parts of life that I am uncomfortable dealing with!

It helps for me to snoop around and check out all kinds of 12-Step literature, whether it's about Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Cocaine, Marijuana, Shopping/spending irrationally, Gambling, Workaholic info - anything and everything...because the literature is aimed at dealing with the behaviors, the situations behind the behaviors, the REASONS why people engage in or exhibit these unhealthy behaviors and how, why, sometimes WHEN people often rely on these types of things - instead of selecting healthier, more socially accepted behaviors.

I don't know everything about WHY or WHEN I use different unhealthy behaviors but if I turn to 12-step and other types of literature for help, I don't have the hopelessly confused attitude and feelings that accompanied me for the whole of my life during my active addictions...

The literature doesn't explain everything to me - but it sure gives me a head start on knowing that life isn't hopeless.

If you've been thinking that maybe you're working too hard and it is affecting your life in adverse ways, your relationships, your finances, even...maybe it wouldn't hurt to check out some 12-Step literature to see if anything helps. You may not find all the answers you need - and the literature won't solve your every problem, but maybe it will help you put things in perspective and help you decide if you can or you SHOULD try to do something about the way you're engaging in, thinking about, or your attitude toward WORKING - possibly 'overworking.'



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