Workaholism is a problem. You can for a while be proud of yourself and your stamina. You can even brag that you’re in your fifth year of living without a vacation, your favorite games at, evenings with friends, and despise those who need eight hours of sleep. But any living organism needs a vacation, a rest, a break. And with prohibitive workaholism, we mask psychological problems.


Constructive Workaholism: For the Sake of the Goal

Let us not be maximalists: sometimes workaholism is justified and is not connected with any internal conflicts. It’s objectively necessary – for a foreseeable period of time and to achieve a specific goal.

The price of investment in the case and the desired result is different for everyone.

Some people consider nerves, money and refusal to rest as investments.

Someone would prefer to sacrifice money and hire an additional employee – then there will be more time for rest.

And someone will decide, on the contrary, to take everything on themselves, not to sleep at all, but to save money.

Any tactic is acceptable if there are clear time limits and understanding of the result. Of course, time limits don’t imply a lifetime. Three to six months is a manageable boundary.

Suppose you got a new job on probation – and you are ready in advance to forget about family, food and sleep for three months, while you are getting into affairs. But if the three months are over, and you are still not going to sleep, watch a movie with your loved one, go to the doctor for a routine checkup – then your workaholism is moving into a destructive stage.

The problem is that many people, carried away, don’t notice that the goal is already achieved or unattainable – and run after it, like a donkey for a carrot, until they fall from fatigue.

If there is no clear result and understanding until when such a rhythm of life will last, if you don’t even fully realize what you are trying so hard for, it means that the motivation to work is imposed from the outside. We will deal with these imposed motives that have made you a workaholic.

Manic Workaholism: For the Sake of the Record

This is a typical situation for freelancers and creative people in general. And basically for anyone who has reached a certain level in their field: at some point you realize that you have become a pro – and the work is easy for you. Orders come pouring in from all sides, you grab them, you get paid, you get praise, and it creates a feeling of omnipotence, euphoria.

This excited state of the psyche is called mania. On the crest of mania it seems that you can do a lot of things – and a lot of work really gets done in a short time. It happens that people write their Ph.D. thesis in two weeks.

But because the brain doesn’t rest, neurons overheat – there comes a depressive phase. In contrast, it hits the psyche hard: a person falls into self-deprecation, self-deprecation, self-criticism. It can happen to anyone, no one is immune. In this condition, creativity is greatly reduced: there is simply no resource, you cannot work with the same intensity – and for this you blame yourself. Feelings of guilt exacerbate depression – a vicious circle.

What to Do?

At this stage it is enough to stop berating yourself and recognize the value of what has already been done, to allow yourself to rest. Now you are unproductive in creative terms anyway, you just need to wait it out and recover.

Neurotic Workaholism: For the Sake of Love

It seems to you that you can get love for work – this is a big mistake. You can get professional recognition for work – no more than that. The desire to literally “earn love” is a variation on the Cinderella syndrome. If you are diligent, modest and hardworking, then sooner or later you will be noticed by the fairy and the prince – that’s when you can get dressed up and relax.

But the years go by, unworthy upstarts become princesses, and Cinderellas continue to clean pots and lentils. Where the roots of this attitude toward oneself are not always immediately apparent.

Oddly enough, the problem may come from the parental family. It’s projecting the image of the father onto the employer. If he loves you, you are safe. The career path of such Cinderellas can be traced quite simply: they are girls who were scolded and punished for bad grades.

They finished school with a medal, the institute with a red diploma. Logically, they were supposed to have bright careers. But he who is lucky, and that rides: what the boss would want to refuse a meek performer, who agrees to any additional work just for praise?

Quite often the cause of workaholism is depreciation within their own family. In my practice, it’s more common to see male workaholics tormented by this problem. If a wife starts rejecting her husband because he does not earn enough money, the man finds himself in a situation of double humiliation: he feels both professional and masculine inadequacy.

There is a possibility that he will break down and leave everything – his wife and his work. But it’s possible to go into workaholism. He will work and work and work to prove that he is worthy of love.

What to Do?

This situation is difficult to resolve without the help of a specialist – simply because the origins of the problems are deep inside you and not always obvious. You may, for example, theoretically know that “you shouldn’t be silent about their achievements,” but internal taboos still will not let you perform. It’s better to seek support from a psychologist.

Narcissistic Workaholism: For the Sake of Respect

Narcissistic needs are the desire to constantly find confirmation of their own exclusivity and uniqueness. Everyone needs it from time to time, but for some this need is inexhaustible and hypertrophied. Girls go into workaholism when they do not trust their men. This sad “I am a horse, I am a bull, I am a woman, and a man” is actually narcissism: I am alone for everyone, everyone around me is nothing, but they need me, without me everyone will be lost.

Narcissistic needs are also about recognition at work. “I don’t understand why everyone complains about fatigue, I’ve been living without a vacation for 5 years and I’m cool” is typical narcissist posturing. In fact, they may not be particularly stressed out. But when they talk about how hard they work, they admire themselves and encourage others to share the admiration.

There are also those who use their narcissism constructively, as successful self-promotion. In essence, they are imaginary workaholics. They don’t so much work as they talk about their incredible work ethic.