6 Types of Spiritual-workaholics

Palace of Fine Arts, sunny day
As my regular readers know, I'm a proponent of spiritual inner work. Actively identifying and working on releasing ego attachments can be a very important part of the spiritual path. Without work, most people stay in their ego patterns. Human beings are very much creatures of habit.

However, any good thing can be done to extremes. Spiritual work can become a crutch or a means to a goal people don't truly understand. It must be done with the mindset that we are perfect as we are. This runs counter to the way people think of work. They often think of getting somewhere or moving forward, and that usually requires a sense that they don't want to be where they are, feel what they do, or some other form of rejection. Rejection is the basis of hate, and if someone comes with this kind of thinking to spiritual work, then they are enacting a kind of self-hate on themselves.

It's not always so dire a situation of actively self-hating oneself through spiritual work, but there are a number of ways people end up becoming spiritual-workaholics. So I thought I'd identify a few and then offer some tips on how to get back on the right inner track from a space of acceptance--the essence of true love.

1. Spiritual Release Addicts

The first time someone discovers what it's like to release an issue held in the body can be profound. Firstly, it makes the processing of releasing issues that may have been only conceptual real. Secondly and more importantly, the openness and rush of unblocked energy can be awesome. This makes some people want to do even more to feel this rush again.

To be sure, discovering how to release deeply held issues is a great thing. It inspires a lot of people to do more inner work, but like all good things, this can be taken too far. The person can get caught up in the release experience rather than learning to reside more at peace with all kinds of experiences. Additionally, not all releases feel great. Some are quieter, and some released issues only reveal deeper pain that may not go away very quickly. So the release addict may sometimes avoid parts of their work if it doesn't give them a "good feeling" release.

The way out of this addiction is to stop and slow down, which is going to be the big over-arching advice for all the different types of workaholics. This person also needs to acknowledge different kind of spiritual experiences that don't feel as good and not try to rush to the end or force a release. As they let go of a need for a certain type of release, deeper truths can get revealed.

Avoiding Parts of Your Spiritual Work

2. Self-punishing Spiritual-workaholic

The self-punishing spiritual-workaholic uses the spiritual path as a kind of self-immolation. It's like how some religions have people whipping themselves to somehow purify themselves, but God does not need us to punish ourselves. God's infinite love embraces us exactly as we are. It's that love that the self-punishing spiritual-workaholic needs to remember.

The essence of this person is that they don't like themselves. They are likely to believe that spiritual work will help them to feel better and make whatever pain they have go away. This is true. It can. But it's how the self-punishing person uses spiritual work that is problematic. They are likely to do too much. They are likely to try a variety of techniques--possibly in close proximity to each other--and may destabilize themselves from working too hard. Seriously. There are people who have come to me who have gotten physically ill from doing too many types of spiritual work.

Getting back on track usually means doing less (as it does for most workaholics of almost anything). It also generally means focusing on unconditional love. Even if there is a lot of pain in this person's life, they need to stop moving so much and just practice accepting themselves and everything else as it is first. Hopefully in slowing down, they can begin to discern what spiritual work helps and let go of what doesn't.

If you need help distinguishing this, you can reach out to me via my contact form.

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3. High-achiever Self-improver

Self-improvement has become a popular passion for many people, and that's great. There are a lot of things we can improve at. We can improve computer skills, speaking abilities, basic accounting skills, political canvassing skills, relationship skills, and so much more. This is a really useful path.

However, on the spiritual path, it can become problematic very quickly. The self-improvement mindset can be useful to get someone started, and the more unconscious someone is, the more it helps. For instance, alcoholism is a huge issue. There are clear steps in improving the person's health and overcoming addiction. But even with that, acceptance is key for any healing to begin. Again and again, we come back to love and acceptance in the present moment no matter how conscious or unconscious someone is.

Yet, later on, there is much less to achieve. How does one achieve oneness? One does not. Letting go of attachments and delusions is much less an achievement than an un-achievement. We stop believing in false things. We stop holding on to beliefs. This reveals the space of oneness within and around us that has always been here. Additionally, the ego mindset that wants to achieve must go. If it doesn't, it continually makes up new issues and attachments to overcome. Or it creates unnecessary goals to further improve skillsets that don't need improvement. Or it chews on the same old issue again and again when that beast is already dead. So the deeper on the spiritual journey someone goes, the more a mindset of improving or achieving must go too. Otherwise this mindset becomes an inhibitor to true spiritual realization.

Thus for this spiritual-workaholic the key ingredient is letting go. The improving mindset can help you only so far, and then after that, it needs to be dropped.

Surrender, Surrender, and Keep Surrendering

4. The Spiritual Loner

The spiritual loner thinks s/he has to do everything on her/his own. This spiritual workaholic understands the part of needing to do the spiritual path on her/his own. This is a realization that some of the other spiritual workaholics who are constantly seeking external support need to realize. But taking responsibility to do one's own work is only half the story. We are all interconnected, so we also never really do anything alone. Furthermore, help can be critical at times, and the loner is likely to think that help is unnecessary, a weakness, or some other kind of excuse.

Because of this, the spiritual loner can get stuck behind his/her blind spots or slow down in progress simply because of the blockages they have.

The way out of this trap as a spiritual loner workaholic is to seek community and seek additional support. S/he may not need a lot, but a little bit at the right time can facilitate a big jump ahead in inner work.

Spiritual Transformation and Seeking Spiritual Help for Your Process

5. The Fixer and/or Person of a Million Issues

To be sure, this persona can be found in some of the other work-aholics. All of these types of workaholics can have overlap. So the self-punishing workaholic is very likely to also be a fixer, but it's absolutely possible to have this type of person not be so self-hating. They may have other core issues that they're addressing. They may also be a really, really successful problem-solver in their life overall.

Problem-solvers get a lot of rewards. They get jobs (think of things like IT support among many others) to solve problems, and many social circles appreciate the person whom they can go to for fixing a broken car engine, a failing marriage, and so forth. Truly, this is a popular and respected persona.

That's why this persona can walk into the spiritual work, and just like the self-improver, they can have some very helpful beginning successes with this mindset. Yes, the spiritual fixer and/or person with a lot of problems may have 99 issues, but a work ethic ain't one.

However, the truth is you are not a problem, and eventually, this mentality of fixing things runs up against the reality of your perfection. But the fixer mentality has no space for perfection. It always needs a problem just as the self-improver always needs something to improve. Learning to stop working and just be becomes particularly important for this person. That tends to reveal deeper issues and fears from which the constant fixing was distracting them. Once those issues are revealed, the spiritual fixer's path starts to evolve into something new that is beyond the broken issue/fix-it paradigm.

You Are Perfect

6 The Spiritual Traveler

For my last type of spiritual-workaholic, I'm picking the spiritual traveler. In today's modern age, spiritual seekers have tons of access to information about spiritual events all around the world, and the spiritual traveler absolutely delights in this. It lets her/him find out about many different spiritual teachers, communities, and places, and from this knowledge, she is hopping onto planes, trains, and automobiles to go find the latest one in her quest for enlightenment or whatever spiritual goal she has.

This person is the most spiritual thrill-seeker of the group, but she does know how to work. She's not like the more superficial spiritual tourist who just likes to pass through places and take pictures of themselves with spiritual gurus and masters. No, no. She's working. She's working to understand herself through all these different mirrors that she finds, but there's a terminus point in this traveling. Eventually, she'll hit a point of limiting returns, and the only thing left is to sit and be with herself.

For many people traveling can be a great way to get started in understanding oneself, but ultimately, you are. All of you is right here, right now wherever you are. You cannot find yourself out there. You go within to find yourself right here. In this way, turning more fully inwards to go towards the eternally still places of presence within is the way out of the trap of the constant movement of the spiritual traveler.

Deepening into Stillness and Inner Peace

Returning to Rest

All of these spiritual workaholics need to appreciate the role of rest. Human beings are not meant to work constantly on anything, and things need time to repair and re-align themselves after being worked on. The work ethic is a useful thing, but as I've mentioned many times, it can be taken to extremes. At which point, the work ethic is now, in and of itself, a serious issue. It leads us to ask, "Why do you have to work so hard? Are you afraid of what would happen if you stop working?" These questions can also help people out of the workaholic trap so that they can go deeper.

In general, sitting a spiritual workaholic down to do nothing--not even meditate--can force up some of the hidden issues. Whether it's scarcity fears, feelings of worthlessness, or something else, things reveal themselves whenever we step out of our habitual ego patterns like over-working. If you do this or rather don't do--hahaha--you may discover the next layer of work that is needed and discover deeper spaces of inner peace.

Embracing Life's Contractions and Time's for Rest