I grew up in a family of workaholic males. My father has since retired but my brother is still hard at it, doing long hours and essentially prioritising work above many other things in his life. Prioritising it above the fun stuff, the lovey-dovey stuff, the stuff you wish you had done before you died stuff, and the ‘only happens once’ stuff. The men in my family are no different to many in Australia and I think it can have a pretty damaging impact on society.
Luckily, I myself, do not suffer from workaholism (which is less fortunate for my employer). If I am doing long hours, it’s probably because I am booking my next holiday or organising a social event. To me, a job is just a job. I like to perform well at them, and I like to do meaningful jobs that can benefit society in some way, but my job does not define who I am.
It seems to me that there are two main reasons for people becoming workaholics and they are both emotionally based. The first pertains to feelings of being unworthy and the second is related to unhealed emotional wounds or trauma. The first group of people use their jobs to enable them to feel good about themselves where they otherwise may not. They use their work to feel like they are good at something or to be held in high regard for something they do. The second group of workaholics use work as they would any other drug or addiction – to avoid dealing with unhealed emotional wounds. They keep their minds busy by taking on large workloads and almost impossible deadlines so that the emotions have no chance to arise.
So why give a shit?
Because whether we like it or not, how happy or sad the people around us are, impacts us. This is no different in the work environment. If our co-workers are sad, they walk around like human energy sinks, sapping energy from the office (and even you). Everyone has had that dick of a boss that seems to enjoy making other people's life hell and no doubt you'll remember how unpleasant they made the place. On the other hand, if our coworkers are happy, they make the office a more enjoyable place to work and you like enjoyable places don’t you?!
Dealing with our emotions is important people! It should be a requirement that every person on earth has to sort out their emotional baggage by the 31st December each year. That way, we can all be happier and enjoy each other’s company more. There would be no more grumpy old guys yelling at kids for walking on their perfectly manicured lawns, or random people mumbling abuse at you in the street for no apparent reason.
The other downside of workaholism (besides the obvious negative effect on families and social life) is that work alone is not completely fulfilling. It’s the masculine energy – the go, go, go and no rest. It’s the left brain and it’s unbalanced. In my experience, fulfillment comes through balance. When you are in true alignment with yourself, your masculine AND feminine needs are met. Without balance, you always feel like there is something missing.
So here’s to clearing out our emotional closets, working less and funning more!
Are you or anyone you know a reformed workaholic? How did you recover?