Yesterday I shared the story about self-medication in professional sports. When we think of self-medication, we think of substances like drugs and alcohol. However, self-medication to move away from any pain, even subconscious pain, can come in many forms: gambling, sex, food, and yes – even an over emphasis on work.
There’s nothing wrong with finding passion in what you do, all day, every day. Aside from the same narcissism that likely exists in most industries, I can honestly say that looking back I loved at a minimum, bits and pieces of every single day in the office in my sports career. That said, I’d stay late night, bring work home with me, be on my phone during the weekends, etc. All “seems” normal when you justify those actions based on doing work you’re passionate about. But the question becomes, when does this behavior become unhealthy?
It becomes unhealthy when you neglect dealing with things in the back of your mind. When you fail to address personal/family/friend issues and sweep them under the rug. When you fail to go to therapy or practice self-care because you don’t have “time.”
Our good friend and #SameHere Alliance Member, NBA referee for over 20 years, Bob Delaney, told me that after he left his job as an undercover NJ State Trooper, he went to work as a ref to escape the pain of his PTSD from his job as an officer. 20+ years running away from it, doing something he loved – as a ref – but all catching up with him eventually.
Learn from him/us. Don’t let work be a form of self-medication. Take care of yourself by finding time for yourself even if it feels like every second of the day is filled with passion. Things often lurk underneath when we are that focused for that long.