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The Center for Work Addiction Recovery

Over-Doing Close Up

When we are over doing and under being, we are in the process of losing our sense of self-ownership or spontaneous aliveness to the act of doing, working, or achieving something external to ourselves that we feel we should do, or achieve. Most often those of us who are compulsive doers have a feeling that we have lost touch with what we want to do, say, or be and are acting upon what we thing we should do. Many times the compulsive doing process takes us away from painful feelings and/or experiences and was developed in childhood for this purpose. Frequently these painful feelings involve rejection and abandonment, fears of either, or both. Often caretaking and controlling are the mechanisms of this compulsive process.

Compulsive doing is often defined in terms of an individual's behavior on the job (e.g., long hours, irritability when interrupted, doing several things at once, inability to delegate). In reality, compulsive doing affects our entire lifestyle. As compulsive people we may or may not work more than others or be high achievers. Compulsive doing is an inner experience which cannot always be identified by our outward behavior.

Compulsive doers like to control and caretake the environment and other people in such a way as to become out of touch with our spontaneous self Because the focus is on external things the relationship to our internal preferences and needs is lost. Over doing tendencies make it difficult to enjoy activities, be playful, or have healthy relationships. Often this can lead to the poor management of personal resources and, as a consequence, to the development of stress-related illnesses. Eventually, if left unhealed, the compulsive approach to living has a destructive impact on organizations, family systems, and environment.

Some characteristics of a doing imbalance include:

"Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others. And for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude."

- Anne Morrow Lindberg

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