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Volume 06 | June 2008 | It Is All About Perception

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Part 1 - Welcome!
Part 2 - Feature Article - It Is All About Perception

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Part 1 - Welcome!

Dear Partner of a Workaholic,

Welcome to this our sixth newsletter written especially to support Partners of Workaholics who have excessive work habits. In this newsletter we will provide support for those of you who have to deal with a partner whose excessive work habits means they work all the time and ignore you.

Living with someone who has an addiction can be incredibly difficult, particularly when it begins to impact on your own sense of self worth. Over time the partner begins to feel they are disappearing, they walk a tight rope trying to keep the family going and feel undervalued and alone. Resentments and a sense of not being enough grow and are incredibly corrosive to a strong sense of worth. 

If you are the partner of a workaholic you have a choice. To leave or to stay in the relationship. If you are to stay in the relationship you can choose whether to continue with things as they are or make a conscious decision to change things. Simply hoping that they will change or doing more of what has already failed is unlikely to make much of a difference. Choosing to work on yourself, building your self esteem and changing the way you handle things are far more likely to make a lasting and positive difference.

This month’s article focuses on the difference a change of perception can create and how the way we interpret other people’s actions and words can change the way we feel about them and our situation.

Recovering Workaholics will feature in The Daily Mail on July 1st in the Health and Leisure section. There will also be a short interview on BBC Radio Stoke this month.

Some of you may have heard the feature on Woman’s Hour on Thursday 25th April which focused on the difficulties living with a workaholic creates. If you would like to hear that feature please visit the BBC web site at

Are You The Partner of a Workaholic?

  • Do you feel as if you play second fiddle to their work?
  • Is it left to you to make excuses to the children, to family and friends because they are late or too busy to attend?
  • Do your partner’s excessive work habits impact on your life and your relationship?
  • Do you send the evenings on your own – even when they are in the house?
  • Is your partner too busy or too tired to pay you the attention you need and deserve?
  • Is your life being affected because of the demands of your partner’s work?
  • Do you feel your own sense of self and your confidence are being eroded because they pay more attention to their work?
  • Are you feeling lonely and left out even though you are in a relationship?

If the answer is yes to three or more of the questions above you may be in a partnership with a workaholic.

You may be thinking:

“I didn’t need to see those questions in order to recognize that things between my partner and I are difficult because of his or her work. What I need to know is what to do about it!”

Workaholism is no different to the other “….holisms” in that the problem can very difficult for partners and families to deal with.

In the first instance you may recognize that there is a difficulty and be worried. Your worries may be for them, their long term health and well being. You may worry about the fact that the children hardly see their father/mother or that when they do they are too tired to show a real interest in them. Your worries may be about the impact work is having on your relationship and how it makes you feel about yourself.

Unless your partner accepts for themselves that they have a problem, it is extremely difficult to make them face it. Your concern may simply be ignored or be misconstrued as nagging. Until they acknowledge that they have a difficulty and they determine that they want to change their lives, you will need to deal with the impact it has on them, you and the rest of the family.

Am I saying things are hopeless? No of course not – quite the opposite in fact.

What I am suggesting is that you need to understand what being a workaholic is about. Each person will have their own personal reasons for becoming a workaholic but if you have read the information on the website you will know that there are a number of reoccurring themes. I suggest you watch and listen for the clues your partner will undoubtedly offer, as to why they have become a workaholic.

When we work with an issue which appears to be outside our control it often feels insurmountable. It is my experience that we need to work on these external things by working on ourselves. There are things we can't change, but what we can do is change the way we feel about the issue and how it makes us feel. The paradox is that as soon as we make the mental shift in ourselves there is frequently a shift in the underlying problem too.

Being the partner of someone, who is too busy to notice your needs, can begin to make you feel less attractive and really knock your self confidence. The reality is that in the majority of cases being a workaholic is about them and not you.

I suggest that you work on ensuring that you feel good about who you are and confident enough to help them to deal with their issues as and when they are ready to.

When I first began Recovering Workaholics I created it for people who wanted to redress the work/life balance in their lives. Those who wanted to enjoy their work but who were keen to create a life full of passion, enjoyment and fulfillment. It soon became evident that there were many people who were partners of workaholics and were desperately trying to manage the impact that their partners work habits had on their relationships and their lives. Sometimes the loneliest place is when we are with others.

Partners often contact me saying how alone they feel and how difficult it is to solve the problem because ultimately the change is down to someone else.

The article this month is designed to let you know that whilst you may feel very lonely, you are by no means alone. If there are particular issues or examples of difficulties you would like to explore through this newsletter please contact me and I will do my best to cover them in future newsletters.

It may feel like a huge challenge but you can help your partner to change their beliefs and behaviours but before you do so you need to examine and adapt your own.

If you would like some help to do this coaching can help.

Recovering Workaholics is a growing concern. We offer 1:1 coaching, and training to facilitate those who want a truly satisfying life. Understanding what drives us to work to the point where love, happiness and fulfillment are the poor relation is the first step to creating a life you truly love. We can help you work towards achieving your “dream” life.

We also offer support for those who are facing retirement or who have recently retired or experienced redundancy and who are finding it difficult to adjust to the change.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in working with us please let me know by contacting me at

Make 2008 the year when you took consistent action to make a positive difference to the quality of your own life and for those who share it with you.

With best wishes,

Gina Gardiner
Helping you create a life you love!

Recovering Workaholics
Tel in the UK: 01708 703 959
Tel from outside the UK: +44 1708 703 959

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Part 2 - It Is All About Perception

It Is All About Perception

Before we start to consider why it is important to focus on your perceptions lets clarify what I mean by perception. Through out our waking hours we take in millions of pieces of information. We take in information through all our senses. What we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. By itself that information makes very little sense. We interpret that information and give it meaning. It is the meaning we give it which is “perception”. 

The way we choose to perceive things is governed by our values and beliefs, our upbringing and life experiences. Having chosen a particular stance, we look for evidence that we are correct. Because we continue to interpret things in a very specific way we can always find evidence to substantiate our belief. We then interpret subsequent events in the same way and our perception becomes entrenched.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Fred is walking in the park. He sees a dog on the far edge of the park. He thinks to himself, “What a fabulous dog, it reminds me of Bobby my childhood friend. I loved playing with him,” Fred has learned to like dogs. His experiences with dogs in the past have confirmed his belief that dogs are friendly and that he is right to be anticipating a pleasant experience with this one. The dog approaches him barking excitedly and jumping about. Fred greets the dog with confidence and the dog responds positively. Fred’s initial perception that this was a friendly dog was confirmed and his beliefs were deepened.

By contrast Dave is walking in the same park. His mum was very nervous around dogs. She considered them to be dirty and dangerous. Every time Pete went near one when he was little, she would warn him against touching them and as a result he began to be extremely nervous around dogs. As the dog comes near him bouncing around and making a noise, the dog picks up his emotions and starts to feel anxious, the dog’s initial curiosity and changes to wariness. Dave begins to walk faster to get away and the dog begins to chase him. You can imagine the rest. Dave’s belief that all dogs are dangerous is confirmed.

It is no different in the relationships we have with others. We can find the proof we are expecting in pretty well any conversation or in the way others behave if you look for it. 

Clients will often site examples as proof that their partner thinks more of work than they do of them, or that their partner doesn’t care, or that there is another agenda going on. 

When I ask “Is there just the possibility that there could be a different motive or reason behind the words or actions which have been so wounding” the initial response is often that they know their first impression was correct. This sense of certainty creates a set of responses which continue the cycle. There is no space for any change in the pattern which becomes more and more entrenched.

When the client is prepared to explore the smallest possibility that their partners behaviour may not be created to hurt them, and that it is more about their partner’s addiction than their partners wish to hurt or wound the cycle can be interrupted.

Workaholics are driven by their needs. They need the certainty, variety, significance, connection and the opportunity for growth or contribution which their work offers. They are often distressed that they are failing in their relationship with their partner or children and escape into the world where they feel more powerful and in control. In my experience many workaholics fear failure and constantly look for opportunities to achieve. If the world of work offers them a much greater sense of achievement it will have a significant attraction.

Let’s be clear I am not suggesting that as the partner of a workaholic that you have to put up with everything and act as a doormat. What I am suggesting is that you start to be curious about what is truly going on. Be prepared to put old perceptions to one side and explore whether your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or whether what is going in is driven by something quite different.

In order to influence any one else the first stage is to understand their world, to step into their shoes and to perceive the world through their eyes, to appreciate how they are feeling. To get beneath their behaviours and language and try to understand what underpins their beliefs and behaviours. To be open to what drives them to be the people they are. Doing this will change your perception and it is this which can make a significant difference to the way we feel about them and provide an opportunity to make a lasting change. It is not an instant thing but a process which

By changing the way you respond to someone not only do you have a completely different feeling about the situation, you also offer them the opportunity to change too. Your motive must be about changing you rather than changing them. In making an active choice to change your perception to what is happening you stop being a victim to circumstance and as a result feel far more in charge of your own destiny.

Working with a coach can be incredibly helpful when working on developing a healthy sense of self worth but there are things you can do to help yourself. Try the ideas above. We would love to hear how you get on and if you have other ideas which have worked for you.

To arrange some coaching support please contact me by email at or
Phone in the UK 01708 703959 (or International +44 1708 703959).

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Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

If there are any topics you would like covered in future issues please let me know on or complete the feedback form at

What do you think?

Warmest wishes,
Gina Gardiner

For any further information about Recovering Workaholics or to discuss your coaching needs contact or
Phone in the UK 01708 703959 (or International +44 1708 703959).

Gina Gardiner recognized by "Investors in People" as creating an "innovative and exemplary training program for emerging and middle managers" and by Ofsted as an “inspirational leader”. Her experience includes that of “Change Management” and in supporting organizational leaders in developing strategic vision and creating a “can do” culture.

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Copyright © 2008 Author: Gina Gardiner -