The Psychology of Being a Workaholic
There is a difference between being total in work and being a workholic. People who are total in their work fall in love with what they are doing. They may work long hours, but they truly enjoy and are inspired by the work they are doing. That is not the same thing as being a workaholic: the person who feels they must, should or have to work every single day. Musts, shoulds and have-tos are all based on perfectionism and behind all perfectionism lies the base emotion of fear.
In Western psychology, we can talk of the person being neurotic and anxious. Anxiety often pairs well with depression, and mood swings including restlessness and paranoia can be seen. The person appears highly controlling and manipulative, always seeming to play the game of "impression management " in order to put their best foot forward. Indeed, there is a breakdown in communication in that the person will deny others in order to be right. Seemingly narcissistic and lacking in empathy, s/he abhors laziness. Fear of failure is critical in driving the person to perform and to push him/herself everyday. Unfortunately, this adrenaline-response pattern leaves the person feeling chronically fatigued and creates a host of physical health problems including high cholesterol and hypertension.
What is behind this pattern of fearing failure, boredom, laziness and guilt? Western psychology says workaholism is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, for which treatment involves medication and psychotherapy.
From an Eastern psychological perspective, workaholism is an addiction no different than drugs or alcohol. It keeps the person distracted from their worries and fears. It keeps the person in a constant state of tension, where rest and relaxation are seen as forms of laziness and boredom.
And yet laziness is completely misunderstood. To be zen is not be lazy, but to have an openness and trust in life. Yet how can one have such trust when "the part" is telling the whole universe that it knows best? Who knows it best is me! This is what is behind the control, that the part thinks that it is greater than the whole...quite a presumptuous position which leads to resistance and a pattern of being unable to let go.
Let go is related to fear, particularly fear of the unknown. When I am in control, I can control events they way that I want them to be. One misses much because one is never in the present moment. Instead, one is attached to being engaged in work so that one doesn't have to face the fear that the only thing permanent is insecurity, that the only thing awaiting one at the end of this journey is an encounter with death, that not to do anything and to be silent means that one must face and be with oneself...and what an odious task, to have to be with oneself. Fear of being with oneself means that one must face the hurt and pain that is inside, that one must face this lack of self-respect, self-worth and self-love...Who is this self that we speak of?
The secret that the workaholic has not figured out is that s/he is trying to be total. Working every day, can one be totally involved? If one can be so totally here now, so totally involved in the present moment, then this moment is itself perfection.
To be so totally aware in this present moment means that one no longer functions as an ego, but is a pure flowing, a pure witnessing. If one can be totally aware, totally present here now while working, then one can be totally aware everywhere and in everything.
That is the truth that the workaholic is seeking: to dissolve as an "I-am-this-ego," and go beyond the concepts of self-concept, self-esteem and self-worth.
Who am i?
I am that...and beyond.
Read more on Workaholism Western viewpoint HERE
Read more on Workaholism Eastern viewpoint HERE
~ By Asoka Void
Asoka shares her experience & wisdom on psychology, meditation, life and the beyond..
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