Back in the 1980's, I got my first job after completing my college degree. I was determined to prove myself. It was a job that I loved, so at first it didn't bother me working more hours. But after awhile, it took its toll. I had trouble sleeping and I was often anxious about whether I was good enough or smart enought, a problem that had its roots in my childhood. I was afraid of failure and thought that by working harder I could protect myself from that. At the time, I didn't realize the depths of my fear and the effect that it was having on me.
Workaholism, according to Gary Zukav in his book, The Heart of the Soul, is a "flight from emotions." It is an escape from feeling our emotions.
I know a woman who is constantly working on one project or another, always running, compulsive in her need to control situations and take charge. She shares with me how exhausted she is and even sends me her agenda for the day so that I can see how hard she works and how many things she needs to accomplish. She seems to thrive on chaos and drama.
On the other hand, this woman's marriage is in a sad state of affairs. It was perhaps a marriage that should not have occurred, but now that she is in it, she is hesitant to get out because of her two children and finances.
Gary Zukav would say that this woman's workaholism is an escape from pain and sadness. How many of us have used our work or another addiction to escape from our emotions? Whether it's alcohol and drugs, shopping, or gambling, it is all about escape.
Are you using any of these escapes in your life? The most important thing is to first acknowledge it, to be able to awaken from the self-induced trance that you have been in. Be willing to be an observer in your own life. Talk to your friends and family. Have they noticed this behavior? Be honest with yourself about your life and whether it is really working for you the way it is. And be willing to let the feelings and emotions come up from deep inside you where they have been suppressed. I recommend finding a good therapist or spiritual advisor.
I have heard the analogy of holding a beach ball under water. It takes a lot of energy to suppress that ball and it takes even more energy for you to suppress the emotions that lie within you. It is draining physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Once the emotions have been released and the pain has been acknowledged, action may then be necessary. Once the realization occurs that the workaholism is an escape, the person will need to deal with the situation that may be contributing to the pain.
God is the power and the presence within us that enables us to work through these issues, to strengthen us as we go through them and to see the good that is there for us. It's all about transformation.