Workaholism, or addiction to work, is an addiction like any other. The only difference is that it is a socially acceptable addiction. In some cultures and societies, it is actually venerated.
But the negative consequences of workaholism can be quite detrimental, like any other addiction: it negatively affects the person's health, social life and the lives of their loved ones.
But how many ads out there are asking people to moderate the amount of hours they work? I have yet to see one. I grew up with a workaholic father and know too well the negative impact it has on the workaholic, and on their family members. I have also come to realize certain factors that seem to underlay people becoming workaholics in the first place.
I first came to the conclusion my dad was a workaholic when I noticed he lost interest in all hobbies outside of work and that didn't have any friends outside the office. Work — nothing else — was his life.
Below are six signs of workaholic behavior that I recognized as a result of my personal, painful, experience of dealing with my father. If you're noticing the tendencies of workaholism in a loved one, here are some things to look for:
1. You don't admit to being a workaholic.
Similar to other individuals suffering from addictions, workaholics resist talking about their tendencies, and instead try to rationalize them or find their way out of the conversation in the first place.
2. You feel afraid.
Many people who are workaholics will justify their behavior by saying that they do so much work because they have to — not because they want to. But this, too, is a defense mechanism. Really, workaholics are acting out some sense of fear. The fear is often of losing their job or lack of financial security, but can even be something more personal.
3. You suffer from low self-esteem and work is how you feel better.
Often times work becomes an escape from a self-esteem problem workaholics are not even aware exists. They get their significance and social approval from work. It's fine if work is one of many sources of happiness and confidence, but it shouldn't be the only thing.
4. You are not happy at home.
Workaholics dive head first into work so that they can escape from a miserable life at home. It can be a vicious cycle of misery in both places — but work is still an escape.
5. You are not familiar with balance and restraint.
In some cases, workaholics may actually love what they do, more than they love anything else — including their family. That said, they don't know how to introduce balance into their lives by resisting the constant compulsion to work.
6. You don't know who they are outside work.
Workaholics identify wholeheartedly with their work. Their identities are their jobs.
No, you cannot solve the problems of your parents (or those of anyone else but yourself) but recognizing them is the first step …
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