Most workaholics are so focused on satisfying their other-dependent needs that they have no time or energy left for anything or anyone else. They don’t even have time to notice how unhappy they really are.
They may even deny their unhappiness. On the flip side their unhappiness is a catch-22 situation. Being the “workaholic” that they choose to be actually rewards them with approval from others for sacrificing themselves for the family, for being a dedicated and loyal worker, for the lifestyle it provides, or being a pillar of the community.
While maintaining an image that is socially acceptable, the “workaholic” can avoid unpleasant family obligations or unhappiness at home, accumulate all of the bells and whistles that it takes to look good to others, and simply enjoy being the martyr. Looking good to others and receiving approval from others may give the workaholic the illusion of happiness. However, the illusion of happiness doesn’t last because it is the result of other-dependent needs. The drawback is that workaholics have to be on the job to perpetuate the good feelings and the rewards they derive from working.
Make no mistake: it’s the kudos and validation, namely in the form of approval from others and their self-perceived rewards, that reinforces the continuance of the behavior.
Much like the “workaholic’s” attempt to alleviate his or her other-dependent needs through work, there are individuals who try to satisfy their other-dependent needs in other ways. Some receive recognition and validation by being able to drink everyone else under the table or doing more drugs than their friends. Others receive approval from their peers by being recognized as the toughest member of the gang or even by committing a more heinous crime than someone else. The consequences of satisfying other-dependent needs for these individuals can be extreme.