6 Signs You're Too Emotionally Attached To Your Job

In a world that more or less teaches us that being in love with your job is the ultimate way to live, it's understandable how we can confuse finding happiness in our day-to-day work with becoming obsessive over the idea that it should supplement some sense of existential fulfillment. Unfortunately, it's become the norm to embody classic signs of unhealthy emotional attachment with our jobs — it's essentially what we think of as a "dedicated, driven worker," somebody who has committed their time, their thoughts and their emotional wellbeing to their work.

The thing is that striving to find meaning and happiness in work is important, and it is possible, as well. Yet, it cannot be found without striking a balance. We are not robots, we are human beings, and like it or not, life cannot just be about work all of the time. It is simply not sustainable. Yet, most people find that it is very difficult to detach from that habitual, stressed out, work-all-the-time-because-I-care-about-my-life delusion, and that's because it ultimately quells a whole host of other anxieties — related to living outside of our means, or not finding real fulfillment anywhere else.

The point is that our unhealthy emotional attachment to work stems from not having healthy emotional attachments elsewhere. We are sold the idea of the American dream, and forget to consider that it may not always be what we want for ourselves, and that must take precedence always. Here are a few signs that will let you know whether or not you've become emotionally attached to your job:

You're Constantly Scared You're Going To Get Fired

This fear is usually the product of actually being afraid that someone is going to take your validation away from you. You can always get a new job. You can't always be affirmed by this particular company, by this particular person, for this particular work.

Your Anxiety Motivates You

Usually, when people self-generate emotion (even those they claim to dislike) it's because they feel it serves them in some way. Very often our anxiety is how we motivate ourselves to over-perform to the level that we need to feel safe. Why safe? Well, because in a hyper-competitive environment, it's not just people who do a good job that survive, it's people who are exceptional. We cannot forget that our jobs are our livelihood, and our livelihood is our survival. There are some deeply rooted instincts bound up within this.

You Define Yourself By Your Work, And Nothing Else

It's totally fine to do that in general (it is a huge part of who you are!) but it is not the entirety of who you are, and if you do not have any self-concept beyond your job, that's usually a solid indicator that you're too attached to the idea of what it makes you.

You Use Your Job To Prove Your Worth, Rather Than Know You Inherently Have Worth

When you imagine how other people think of you, you're able to compensate for however they may judge you with the idea that because you are a successful such-and-such, you have redeemed yourself in some way.

You Are A Quintessential Over-Worker

People who over-work not only perform less well than those who are able to work intelligently and within a reasonable time frame, but they are also usually running away (or distracting themselves constantly) from a personal life issue they do not want to have to reconcile yet.

You Don't Take External Criticism Well

If your boss criticizes you, you see it as a means of improving yourself so to better ensure your job. If anybody else criticizes you, it threatens the foundation on which you perceive yourself to be "acceptable." It's a small distinction — but it says a lot.

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