“The ego desperately seeks security. The soul wants to live. The truth is, real life cannot be lived without risk. We cannot develop depth without pain.” ~ Carol S. Pearson
Workaholism is literally the wisdom of the body in action.
Some people develop workaholic tendencies because they yearn to be seen as the best person through their achievements.
But I’m not here to talk about people obsessing over their image.
A particular strain of “workaholism” that is under-told is the perfectionist’s reliance on productivity.
It has little to do with your talents and achievements being recognized in the outside world, and more to do with your unattainably high standards for yourself and others.
It’s not about winning a glorious trophy at the end of the day so everyone knows you’re real, but it’s about knowing you’ve improved yourself, others, or the environment around you.
It’s knowing that you’ve made the world a better place, and that you didn’t cut corners to get there.
Whether it’s your career, community projects, or personal to-do list that consumes your daily life, your addiction to activity is problematic for many reasons. , an impulsive urge quickly creeps in and the urge to immerse yourself in more activity. Without it, you experience a deep sense of worthlessness.
You have a hard time accepting your work as it is, and your inner critic is never okay.
This kind of “improvement” workaholism is about self-esteem and a sense of security. In the workaholic body, idleness feels unsafe, so inactivity is misinterpreted as useless, leaving a gaping hole in one’s existence. The wisdom of a workaholic’s body knows that not creating, producing, or improving oneself or one’s environment is the same as being an unloved garbage bag.
So your body keeps you busy.
Activity addiction manifests itself in a myriad of ways. They don’t meet your standards, so you’re doing your colleague’s work for them. I clean my house when it’s not dirty. Spend extra energy helping your kids with their homework. You can’t rest, relax, or experience joy unless it’s “earned”.
when the body goes to war
My workaholic perfectionism has taken its toll on my body since my mid-twenties. Being so armed with muscles, I injured my neck from the stiffness, leading to some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
At that time, I was living in rural Japan. Desperate for help, I drove 45 minutes down a snowy country road to meet a non-English-speaking expert, and to this day I don’t know what their specialty is called. . But they treated me at home on a regular basis, giving me the reassurance I needed to stay sane.
And that was just the beginning.
Since then, I have continued to hurt my neck several times a year. After returning home, I regularly visited a chiropractor, physical therapist, and massage therapist. They certainly treated my symptoms, but they didn’t understand why I was chronically stiff and prone to injury.
Then came an injury that changed the course of my life.
In my early 30s, I developed tendonitis and a repetitive strain injury in my right arm from using computers in the office. I worked hard, completing every task, email, and spreadsheet that came across my desk. I kept my body tense and hardly took a break. I was desperate to keep working even though my right arm hurt, so I paid the price with my left arm and injured my left arm as well.
Different parts of my body were fighting with each other. One part was guilty of keeping me in a roaring cycle, while another part sent smoke signals to slow me down and let me rest.
I have been disabled for 8 months.
I had a hard time taking care of myself. Bathing, cooking, cleaning and washing was no longer possible. I couldn’t open the book and read. It took several months before I was able to return to normal activities. For those who have historically kept themselves busy, not being able to work on doctor’s orders has been a nightmare.
Two years later, my doctor agreed that I have a permanent partial disability: I can no longer do an eight-hour desk job. A throbbing hand reminds you of the time to rest.
In my late twenties and early thirties, I also had episodes of suicidal thoughts and general depression. Despite having my dream job in a beautiful coastal town in California, I felt worthless.
My monkey mind was full of chatter. I stuck to ways to make me feel good, but I was clinging to the same old habits and clinging to never-ending mental and physical activity.
Through that difficult passage of time, I believe my psyche was leading me down a dark path of individuation, a transformational process that integrates the unconscious and conscious minds and bodies.
A return to perfection is the birthright of everyone. This is the magical reunion of parts that were separated and abandoned in childhood. I discovered that I had banished my lazy complacency deep within my shadow.
Jung’s depth psychology and pole dancing opened my heart. I was healed by accessing embodied sensual movement, creative inner guidance, creating time for spontaneous play without an agenda, and finding peace in deep stillness.
I’m moving my body easily today. I find joy in places I couldn’t before. I know how to be in my deepest stillness and it feels like a real sustainable joy.
It doesn’t mean you never fall into old habits. In fact, as I move through life, I still find new iterations of old patterns, but I know how to handle them.
The unconscious driver of your mind and body
Often we celebrate hard work and refuse to acknowledge the destruction it does to our mind and body when it becomes a habit.
Many workaholics see their patterns as justifications, always equipped with a list of reasons why a coveted improvement or task must be accomplished despite the obvious sacrifices made. I’m here. They don’t respond well to being told they need to slow down or prioritize their health.
Best case scenario, they agree to work too hard, but don’t know how else to do it.
If this resonates, then maybe you’re beating yourself up by not being with yourself and your loved ones more. You may tend to be the worst critic. As such, they are particularly sensitive to critical feedback from others.
Luckily you don’t have any “problems”. You are not a bad person because you are too busy to show others. You worked so hard that you hurt yourself, so you’re not a self-destructive idiot. Just because you can’t sit still doesn’t mean you’re broken.
Like any addiction, workaholics are coping strategies.
Workaholism is a learned behavior that avoids the pain and discomfort of being completely attuned to deep silence without activity. Work-oriented perfectionists subconsciously hold the belief that they are worthless unless they are busy fixing themselves and the world.
Your workaholic tendencies possess incredible intelligence. Your body is so much more than your conscious or ego persona that you think you know very well. But they are so wrong.
5% of cognitive activity is conscious and the remaining 95% is unconscious.
The 95% primarily governs your actions, inactions, impulses and beliefs. Your endless activities do not come from your conscious thoughts. You may be convinced that your strong willpower and self-discipline are the reason you are so productive. But it’s not. You are the result of unconscious conditioned patterns that influence your behavior in the world.
If it’s not humility, I don’t know what it is.
The urge to work longer and harder than is good for you is your body’s felt sense. Your urges are reactions that, if you pay close attention, don’t want to feel a certain way. Ultimately, to avoid the discomfort of being completely confronted with being perceived as worthless in the midst of a state of laziness, unproductivity, and undiscipline.
Because your body is programmed to keep you busy, so it knows exactly how to keep it from feeling like a useless waste of space.
Your entire body is much smarter than just a fraction of your conscious thoughts.
It’s not your fault you haven’t learned the other way. It’s not your fault that most therapists, mentors, educators, and caregivers don’t know how to actually help you change your patterns.
The great news is that you can change. Your mind and body are not permanently wired this way.
Science and various proven techniques teach us how to transform ourselves in unimaginable ways. Unfortunately, these methods lag behind in formal education and the knowledge base of many healers. However, there are many gateways to using your mind and body to transform yourself.
mind and body practice
It’s not your fault that you’re constantly busy, but if you want to enjoy life as your best self who doesn’t have to work to feel worthy, it’s your responsibility to do the inner work.
If the body has a conditional tendency to avoid stillness because it misinterprets it as dangerous, prove to yourself that constant activity is not the way to live fully in joy, presence and peace. need to do it.
Partner your body and be lovingly interested in yourself.
The exact activity you most avoid—laziness—is one way of knowing your intrinsic, non-negotiable worth. Stir up.
Learn to be in touch with what your body is feeling, known as interoception. This alone will reward you tenfold in your overall health, decision-making, and trust in your inner guidance.
Observe where the physical tension is. Pay attention to where the discomfort begins to stir and what the initial impulse is. In many cases, the urges that arise have a positive intent to crush the discomfort. For a workaholic, the urge is a productive activity.
Your body is great at reacting to these uncomfortable signs at warp speed. This is another habit worth learning if you want to take the risk of being human in an uncertain world. The treasure of life lies in the unknown.
Over time, you’ll see when your activity moves out of healthy, productive territory and into unhealthy, self-sacrificing territory, so you can intervene.
You can heal and transform lives in an incredible way. No matter how hard you try, you are not broken. Trust me, every practice I preach is one I’ve used to transform my life.
Remember, you are a beautiful creature learning to exist in its natural form.