Workaholics, we all know them and we secretly want to ring their necks. These work-obsessed people are our fathers, our sisters, our husbands, our bosses or even ourselves. What is a workaholic, you ask? Well, Barbara Killinger, PhD explained it best, "I define a workaholic as a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success."
What's really sad is that workaholism is socially respectable and even encouraged in many fields like law, medicine and on Wall Street. Because we live in such a prestige-obsessed culture few people see it as an addiction but don't get it twisted, it very much is one. "Workaholism is the best-dressed addiction in the country," says Bryan E. Robinson, PHD author of Chained to The Desk: A Guidebook For Workaholics, Their Partners, Their Children, And The Clinicians Who Treat Them. It's such a good looking addiction that rarely anyone seeks help.
One of the classifications of an addiction (and believe me, I'm in recovery from many) is using a substance or thing (like work) to avoid pain. I'm sure we've all been told at one point when going through a tough time, "just throw yourself into your work." Well, if you do that you're not feeling your feelings and you're using work as a way to "cope."
It's laughable that society thinks that workaholism isn't as bad as alcoholism/drug addiction but it is just as destructive to your body, mental health and family. "A workaholic will die faster than an alcoholic any day," says Diane Fassel, PhD author of Working Ourselves to Death. By overworking yourself, you're creating massive levels of adrenaline, which encompasses the whole body and taxes the heart. Workaholics suffer from anxiety, ulcers, fatigue, sleep disturbance and depression.
When workaholism goes too long unchecked the workaholic becomes more and more obsessed with their job and they become very myopic. They won't delegate work to others for fear of them "not doing it right." They become isolated and live in fear all the time, because behind every obsession is fear.
Then let's talk about their family who suffers greatly. The children of workaholics suffer from worse depression than children of alcoholics. They are forced to act like adults because of the absent parent. And ladies, if you're married to workaholic you have a much higher chance of getting divorced.
How does one become a workaholic? Well, for some it's a childhood where they had to be the adult in the family whether it was from having a sick parent, experiencing the death of a parent or divorce. Other workaholics come from type-A families where love was given only when they excelled in academic or other pursuits. You remember those kids in high school, the ones who cried when they got an A- while you were super stoked with your B-.
There are three types of workaholics: The pleaser, the controller and the narcissistic controller. The pleaser is the person who doesn't know the word, "no." They bend over backwards because they desperately want to be liked by their boss, co-workers and clients.
The controller needs to be as Janet Jackson says, in "control." They're intense, charming, sociable, tough, impulsive and full of themselves. The narcissistic controller is probably the worst out of all three. They have zero empathy for anyone and are ruthless in their drive for their own success. If left in power too long they become tyrants (hello, Donald Trump).
If you don't fit into the three categories then here are some signs that you may be a workaholic:
• You're first in the office and last to leave
• You work through the lunch hour
• You don't have hobbies
• You get stressed out when you're not at work
• You don't take vacations
• Your work has negatively affected your family
• You go to work even when you're sick
• You're too accessible
So, if you feel you're suffering from workaholism what is the solution? Well, it's the same as any other addiction. The first step is to admit that you have a problem and get help through Workaholics Anonymous, rehab or therapy.
It is important to get to the root of why you're working yourself to death. You will never know true happiness until you stop basing your self-worth on your "success." Also, by working so damn much you're missing out on all the beauty, creativity and joy of life. I guarantee you: you're not going to be on your death bed, thinking, "I should have spent more time at the office."