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Fear of Work!?

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  • Fear of Work!?

    I can't believe this is a REAL phobia

    Ergasiophobia - defined as "a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of work"

    And if you do a google search on it, you'll find clinics that are trying to cure this!

    I don't want to sound "insensitve" but when did procrastination turn into something so scary?

  • #2
    I have to say I have been battling this for over ten years. My efforts to combat it were responsible for me finding my way to David Allen’s book and this site. It has also led me to read Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Anthony Robbins, Covey, and anyone else I could get my hands on.

    The symptom is that I must somehow get over a massive, and I mean massive, wall of fear, each and every morning, before I can start work. If I don’t get a grip on myself at the start of the day, I will spend the day skidding wildly from task to task and finish up utterly exhausted, and deeply depressed and fearful.

    (But if I do manage to start the day off correctly, I can get a ton of work done – I have no problems with ability or stamina).

    Then the battle begins all over again the next day. And the next. And the next.

    I am constantly trying to figure out what causes it.

    My best self-analysis is as follows: during the recession in the eighties and early nineties, I worked for several particularly vicious individuals. (Their own shortcomings have since been proven to all by the failure of their businesses). Their one and only management tool was to daily threaten the sack to their staff – me included. The slightest error in our work, (and not even errors, just differences in approach towards the same objective), was instantly cited as a reason for dismissal. With a new mortgage, this caused me endless agony.

    Now, if association is as powerful a force as Anthony Robbins says it is, then I have been conditioned to believe that presenting completed work to a superior, and using initiative, are causes of deadly consequences.

    But what else are we employed to except present completed work to superiors and use our initiative? And these are the very things I am terrified of.

    Well, that’s my tale of woe.

    In the context of GTD, I have to say that clarifying the next action has been a wonderful help for me. It’s like finding the start of a huge ball of twine that I have to untangle.

    I am also am trying to identify my feelings as specifically as possible in the context of what Anthony Robbins calls “limiting beliefs” in order to help myself form new attitude habits.



    • #3

      I think the definition of success is making oneself do what one would rather not. Thats hard work!

      I dont know if I'm afraid of it or not, but I know that I'd rather not do it (work). Fishing is always preferable to solving problems and dealing with ambiguity.

      "Do what you love and the money will follow" sounds great, but I've never found work to be something I could love. Its a necessity.


      • #4
        Re: DM

        Originally posted by Anonymous
        I think the definition of success is making oneself do what one would rather not. Thats hard work!

        I dont know if I'm afraid of it or not, but I know that I'd rather not do it (work). Fishing is always preferable to solving problems and dealing with ambiguity.

        "Do what you love and the money will follow" sounds great, but I've never found work to be something I could love. Its a necessity.
        Actually, I think that the above is the definition of Courage!

        I don't have a fear of work - I just don't enjoy it (I suppose that's why it's work). People who make a living doing what they enjoy never "work" - they can't tell the difference between work and play. That's where I'd love to be.


        • #5
          I actually love hard work. I just find it very hard to get over the mountain of fear so that I can get started.



          • #6

            Wow, thank you so much for sharing. I hope I didn't sound too insensitive!

            I remember I was researching procrastination (I know it's not the same thing as Ergasiophobia, but I assume it's similar) and I came across a very interesting comment that said, "procrastination is a symptom of some underlying fear, and the way to only really stop it is to understand and confront this fear."

            I have to say that I am somewhat of a perfectionist and sometimes when I put off doing something I say to myself that it's because I'm too busy with something else (or that I'm just lazy at the moment) but perhaps there's something more to it?


            • #7
              No problem remyc! I’m just trying to convey the frustration: the fear can be like a bubble that I’m trying to break through to get to the “normal “ working day that everyone else seems to live in!

              In my first post above I described what I think might be the root cause; however, self-analysis is difficult. You really have to catch yourself unawares going through thought patterns.

              I came across a process once called “The 5 whys” for tackling problems: each time an answer is received, you treat the answer as an excuse, and hit back with another “why”. The theory is that five whys are enough to get you down to the root cause of the problem.

              I tried this, and it got me as far as the explanation I gave about previous bosses. I’m hoping now that the next step is to de-programme myself from such a negative thought habit, and let the real me come through.



              • #8
                I would say to find a good psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders, and try to understand it from this point of view. It couldn't hurt. Maybe you just need to quench the adrenalin for a short time in the morning. There's some drug that does just this for people who are anxious public speaking or job interviews.

                In spite of my own peculiarities, I stay away from psychiatrists, but my dear father-in-law who just passed away this week was such a psychiatrist, and he was immensely competent and compassionate. He treated anxiety disorders among other things. He's the one who told me about this so called "interview pill."

                Aside from that, keep up the weekly reviews, it couldn't do anything but help.



                • #9

                  I've got a real problem with this definition:

                  Ergasiophobia - defined as "a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of work"

                  I mean, what's so abnormal and irrational about it?


                  • #10

                    With all due respect to Rita Emmett and her very well-written book, I don't believe in the theory that fear of this or that is the main cause of procrastination. On the contrary, fear is one of the few things that actually gets me to Do something.

                    There is only one reason that I won't Do something I am supposed to Do, and that is because I don't want to Do it. Whether it's immaturity. lack of discipline, or (one for the psychologists) Oppositional Defiance Disorder (a hallmark of intelligent people - yes, that one suits my self-image), or whether the item on the list is not properly thought out, or the item on the list was Processed according to the book but subsequent events have changed everything, the bottom line is a there is a certain resistance that needs to be addressed. Whoever kept asking "Why?' probably came closest to a common-sense approach.

                    The issue is between me and my list and my intuition tells me that accomplishment is likely to be the best therapy.



                    • #11
                      What you say is probably true for most people. However I would say there's a difference between a massive wall of fear and not wanting to do something. I don't want to wash the dishes at night sometimes for example. I never want to add another part to the test bed after I fix a bug at work.

                      On the other hand, I've faced a massive wall of fear very few times in my adult life, mostly having to do with public speaking thanks to our civilized society and my median status in it. If I had to undergo something like that every day, I might consider whether willpower might not be enough. Though I can vouch for the fact that sometimes willpower can do wonders. I used to have to check my alarm clock to see if it was set after I had already set it, sometimes more than once a night (among other compulsive behaviors). Then one day I read a book that said the solution to this was to stop checking the clock, sweat it out for a few nights, and the problem would be solved. It worked for me though I had a couple of bad nights. It might not work for someone who had a similar problem, but worse.



                      • #12

                        I'm not denying the presence of a feeling of fear, but I am not satisfied with having a label and not delving further into the causes. Fear is often a manifestation of conflict of wants (want-to vs want-not-to). It's the underlying wants that need to be addressed. "Why?" seems to be a good question.

                        I have a book from the library (glossed but not yet read - seemed relevant after this thread got started) that deals with the subject of writing as long as it takes to embrace the emotion, challenge it and, finally, resolve it.

                        "Write It Down, Make It Happen" by Henriette Anne Klauser.



                        • #13
                          ergasiophobia and procrastination

                          Just this very morning, I checked out a set of tapes by Neil Fiore from the library, "Conquering Procrastination". I'm only just finished with the first of six tapes -- but Fiore seems to have some interesting things to say. I won't summarize here, but suffice it to say that, after having read many of the books on the subject (including the condescending and almost offensive "Eat that Frog" by Brian Tracy as well as Rita Emmett's rather neutral "Procrastinator's Handbook", and Burka and Yuen's "Procrastination" among others) I'm pleasantly surprised by this one. It's a little touchy-feely for my taste, but I can deal with that.

                          Regarding ergasiophobia, like most psychological disorders, a lot depends on degree. Cris might have been somewhat compulsive, but until it was disturbing her life (by disturbing her sleep, and thus her health) it was just a part of her complex personality. Which is what makes Cris an interesting and intriguing person. (Forgive me Cris -- I'm presuming that your compulsiveness was limited to alarm-clock checking, and that you're interesting and intriguing. ) My five-year-old son walks around in circles for hours at a time. It's slightly autistic behavior, but since it doesn't affect him developmentally in any other area, or cause him any anguish (he doesn't think of himself as a bad person because he is comforted by walking around in circles), I'm mostly unconcerned. Have I taken him in to be checked by a professional? No way.

                          However, those who, like Don, feel a "massive wall of fear, each and every morning" I think should go and investigate getting outside help. I think it's admirable to confront our own weaknesses, and say "hey, I could use a little help with this," and get the help. Maybe the competent medical authority will suggest an SSRI (like Prozac or Zoloft) -- and in today's cultural zeitgeist against them, I think you'd be a braver person still for following your doctor's advice. It takes a seriously tough person to recognize their own weakness.

                          To some degree, we've all dealt with it. That's why we read GTD, or listened to the tapes or went to the seminar or whatever. But for some of us, at various times, it's not just a question of willpower or discipline.


                          • #14
                            Re: DM

                            Originally posted by jkgrossi
                            People who make a living doing what they enjoy never "work" - they can't tell the difference between work and play. That's where I'd love to be.
                            Robert Frost, in his poem "Two Tramps in Wood Time" wrote "My object in living is to unite/ My avocation and my vocation/ As my two eyes make one in sight." The whole poem is about exactly what you describe. It's one of my favorite poems.

                            And it's why, a couple of years ago, I thought I'd start a business doing what I enjoy, and that I'd be able to achieve that magical state where "work" was only the stuff I enjoy.

                            And lo and behold, it didn't happen. I was successful, even more than I'd ever hoped, but there was a whole lot of ugly, nasty, unpleasant busywork that I hated.

                            So, seeing an opportunity to leave that business and write for a living (which is what I'd always dreamed of doing since I was a little kid), with enough money in the bank to spend a couple of years not worring about money at all. And, yet again, I discovered that there's still more of that stupid, annoying "work" crap to deal with.

                            In the end, I think that there'll always be work -- the bad kind. I can limit it, and learn to deal with it, but until we rid the world of taxes, mortgages, doctors, in-laws, lawns, birthdays, neighbors, snow, the flu... we'll be stuck with unpleasant things to do -- and good reason to have a system like GTD to help me get those things out of the way as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.


                            • #15
                              Wow, terceiro! You nailed it. GTD is pure instrumentalism. This is fodder for a whole long post which has been incubating ever since I read DA's new book.

                              I am not a Freudian. But Freud speaks of the reality principle. You nailed it because you are not projecting infantile fantasies on the world. Life includes pain and suffering. GTD is about getting through pain and suffering.

                              I am not a Marxist. But Marx speaks of alienated labor. You nailed it because you explained that we have to engage in activities where we do not identify ourselves with that activity. We are not identifying with the activity; we view the alien activity as other than what we are about. GTD is about getting through alienated labor.

                              GTD is also about doing what Marx talked about in the German Ideology where he described congruent, unalienated activity as fishing in the morning, hunting in the afternoon, and something else, which I don't remember, in the evening.

                              But few of us need a lot of help relaxing. We need help dealing with the busy-work, the taxes, the customer complaints, the budget gap, the employee crises, the computer crashes, the leaky roof, etc.

                              terceiro, a bit of advice. Please don't write any books explaining how you got it all and you still weren't happy. Well, you can write them. But don't expect them to sell. I'll buy it. I am fascinated by your story. But the reality principle doesn't sell.