We all want our lives to be stimulating, meaningful, and useful to others. It’s satisfying to be able to solve problems, help others, and be productive overall. But for some people, the pursuit of stimulation can become an unhealthy habit, a compulsion—almost an addiction. When someone continually craves a heightened sense of stimulation in this way, it can be harmful to themselves and others. Consider these four examples and how they can impact interactions with others, both at work and at home.
Drama – Someone who craves drama loves stirring up passion, adventure, and controversy to make their life more interesting or to create problems to solve. A drama addict can smell potential scenarios a mile away. This person enjoys the producer role and likes to create new opportunities whenever possible. Drama is very seductive.
Obligation – This is an excessive and unhealthy need to do good, help, or even crusade for someone or something. I am not suggesting that doing good deeds for others isn’t admirable; however, some people seek out situations where they will be seen as a hero. They crave the starring role of rescuer because it feeds their ego.
Worry – When someone sees the possibility of problem or disaster in any given situation and allows it to magnify in their mind, it’s an extreme form of worrying. This type of stimulation creates a high degree of friction within the person, causing the adrenaline to flow freely. Everyone has worries in their life, but this is more than that . This type of worrying is done at the cost of joy, creativity, and peace of mind.
Busyness – Compulsive busyness has become an epidemic in our culture. We seldom hear anyone say the words I don’t have enough to do or I’m not busy. And while many people moan bitterly about how busy they are, some seem to wear it as a badge of honor. They judge their value by their busyness.
So how do we help ourselves and others escape from these unhealthy obsessions? Here are ideas for how to break free:
Instead of Drama:
- Spread good news, not rumors or gossip
- Choose to be compassionate
- Stick to the facts—refrain from embellishing
Instead of Obligation:
- Learn to say No
- Set clear boundaries
- Make time in your daily routine to do something for yourself
Instead of Worry:
- Praise yourself when you do things right
- Celebrate daily what is going well
- Ask others to be specific about their expectations of you
Instead of Busyness:
- Make white space a priority in your schedule
- Under-promise and over-deliver
- Give yourself more time than you think you will need
As coaches, we are in a unique position of helping our clients recognize and overturn negative compulsions such as these so that they can achieve their full potential. We also have a responsibility to evaluate our own needs in these areas and take steps as necessary.With a little bit of work, anyone can break away from unhealthy, negative pursuits and move toward a more positive future.
About the Author
Judith Donin is a Senior Consulting Partner and Professional Services Mentor for North America with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Judith’s posts as a part of Coaching Tuesday here at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.