The Problem - Characteristics of Workaholics

  1. It is very difficult for us to relax. We often, if not always, feel the need to get just a few more tasks done before we can feel good about ourselves and allow ourselves to relax. When we do complete these tasks we find just a few more that we need to complete, and then a few more.... These uncontrollable desires often result in frantic, compulsive working. We are powerless to control this pattern.
  2. We are so used to doing what we are expected to do that we are often unable to know what it is that we really want to do and need to do for ourselves.
  3. We often feel that we must complete certain tasks, even though we do not want to, yet we are too scared to stop.
  4. We often feel resentment about having to complete tasks when we would rather relax or play. At these times we procrastinate, usually wallowing in self-pity and self-judgment. We become absorbed by our "stinking thinking," cannot concentrate on the task at hand, and yet are too scared to give up the task for a moment and allow ourselves the space we need.
  5. Our sense of self-esteem is based largely on our perceptions of how others judge our performance at work and in other areas of our lives.
  6. We often think of ourselves as either the most intelligent, capable people we know or the most incapable and worthless people we know.
  7. It is hard for us to see ourselves honestly and accept who we really are.
  8. We often betray ourselves by giving in to the demands of people whom we perceive as being in "authority."
  9. We operate out of the mini-crisis mode, using this as an escape from experiencing our true emotions.
  10. We do not often experience true serenity.
  11. We have an obsessive desire to understand everything in our lives, including our every emotion. We cannot allow ourselves to experience emotions that we do not understand, fearing our loss of control.
  12. We have an underlying fear that if we give up control and allow our emotions to surface, we will become raving lunatics for the rest of our lives.
  13. We judge ourselves by our accomplishments and hence have the illusion that we must always be in the process of accomplishing something worthwhile in order to feel good about ourselves.
  14. We cannot sit down and just be.
  15. We often go on intense work binges with the illusion that we need to get the praise of our fellow workers and bosses in order to feel OK.
  16. We have the illusion that people will like us more if we appear more competent than we actually are.
  17. Often when we are praised by others we tend to discount ourselves as not worthy of their praise.
  18. We tend to schedule ourselves for more than we can handle, believing people will like us more if we can do more and do it faster.
  19. We are often dishonest about our past experiences and our present capabilities, tending to not mention our failures and to exaggerate our successes. We believe that people will not respect us or like us just as we are.
  20. We hurt inside.

Originally appears as pages 5-7 in the W.A. Book of Recovery. This literature is also available as a downloadable PDF file