Why do we become addicted to our work? Why do we allow our work and employers to entrench themselves so deeply into our psyches that when we’re in the shower, we give effort to our work, we complain about work to family, and we work when we sleep? Does it fill that void otherwise filled with insecurities and self-loathing? Do we yearn for the stability that comes with employment and the fruits of our labor?
It’s fine to work and be employed.
It’s just now there’s the hidden factory of labor associated with checking emails off the clock, working through projects tangentially related to work in our free time, and obsess over details when we should be relaxing. It’s free, undocumented labor for one, and we allow it because we’re addicted to the perks:
Money, stability, and status.
In exchange for our time, a resource all too many of us waste with our own time, and especially the time of others, we get the opportunity to potentially do more. It’s just that there’s a hidden variable that keeps us devoted to our work: stress and stress relief.
We sacrifice our weeks to live for the weekend because, like an individual actively using a substance with no motivation to change, we simply see no alternative. Each company offers just about the same raw deal. We seem destined for this endless grind.
That’s good and fine in moderation.
What I’m seeing more addict-coping cycles in the workplace of use, binge, relapse, repeat. It’s difficult to break the pattern when there are seemingly no options available. Living in squander is alright for that high: living in comfort is alright for that weekend life high.
It’s becoming increasingly worse.
Work is the only thing on some people’s minds. I use my writing to detach from my employment and even that is just transference. The work center of the brain is still actively engaged. At least, once I run out of ideas or click publish, I can put it down.
Then I can operate with an empty mind.
A mind that is free of preconceived notions of work and reality, like a body free of toxins, can respond quicker and more efficiently. It can recover faster. I’m seeing an increase in the number of career workers that sacrificed their bodies for their drug of choice: money.
Do we live to earn money now?
Is our only option to join up with some company willing to pay us for our time? Up until the proliferation of the Internet, yes. Now we do have more opportunities. The problem is this always-on, call me anytime, go-getter attitude can lead to self-destruction.
That same self-destruction as addicts.
If we can start to break away, even minutes at a time, by remembering that we don’t live for our work, we can start to reprioritize. Find the work that doesn’t overwhelm us, doesn’t leave us wishing for Fridays, which in turn prevents us from self-destruction.
Let’s start an Employees Anonymous.
|Sources: My professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: Thoughts about how thoroughly we become addicted to work. I’m guilty this myself through letting it distract me. Each day, pressing things will carry me throughout the day, but that means you never fully “get out” of that mindset.|
|Photos: Victor Steinbrueck Park, between Pike Place Market and the waterfront, is a great place to watch traffic go by, as people dangerously cut each other off to get to get to work just a little sooner. Above, heavy traffic. Below, light traffic.|
|Written On: June 5th|
|Last Edited: June 5th|