The Signposts of Workaholism
- We find it hard to love and accept ourselves. Work has become our means of
gaining approval, finding our identity and justifying our existence.
- We use work to escape our feelings. Thus, we deprive ourselves of knowing
what we truly want and need.
- By overworking, we neglect our health, relationships, recreation and
spirituality. Even when we are not working, we are thinking of our next task.
Most of our activities are work-related. We deny ourselves the enjoyment of a
balanced and varied life.
- We use work as a way to deal with the uncertainties of life. We lie awake
worrying; we over-plan and over-organize. By being unwilling to surrender
control, we lose our spontaneity, creativity and flexibility.
- Many of us grew up in chaotic homes. Stress and intensity feel normal to
us. We seek out these conditions in the workplace. We create crises and get
adrenaline highs by overworking to resolve them. Then we suffer withdrawals and
become anxious and depressed. Such mood swings destroy our peace of mind.
- Work has become an addiction. We lie to ourselves and to others about the
amount we do. We hoard work to insure that we will always be busy and never
bored. We fear free time and vacations and find them painful instead of
- Instead of being a haven, our home is an extension of our workplace. Our
family and friends often arrange their time with us around our work, vainly
hoping we will finish it and then can be with them.
- We make unreasonable demands upon ourselves. We aren't aware of any
difference between job-imposed and self-imposed pressure. By over-scheduling
our lives, we become driven, racing to beat the clock, fearful that we will
get behind, and binge-work in order to catch up. Our attention is fragmented by
trying to do several things at once. Our inability to pace ourselves leads to
breakdown and burnout. We rob ourselves of the enjoyment of conclusion and
- We tend to be perfectionistic. We don't accept mistakes as part of being
human and find it hard to ask for help. Because we believe no one can meet our
standards, we have difficulty delegating and so do more than our share of the
work. Thinking ourselves indispensable often prevents our progress. Unrealistic
expectations often cheat us of contentment.
- We tend to be over-serious and responsible. All activity must be
purposeful. We find it hard to relax and just be; we feel guilty and restless
when not working. Because we often work at our play, we rarely experience
re-creation and renewal. We neglect our sense of humor and rarely enjoy the
healing power of laughter.
- Waiting is hard for us. We are more interested in results than process,
in quantity than quality. Our impatience often distorts our work by not
allowing it proper timing.
- Many of us are concerned with image. We think that looking busy makes
people think we are important and gains their admiration. By seeking others'
approval of us, we lose ourselves.
Originally appears as pages 7-8 in the
W.A. Book of Recovery. This
literature is also available as a
downloadable PDF file