Having graduated college in 2008 during the Great Recession, the job market was bleak.
After searching for months and working odd jobs, I finally found what appeared to be the right opportunity and began my career in real estate.
As the market began to rapidly recover and grow, so did the opportunity with my position and therefore income. This quickly became an addiction.
As my role and pockets grew, so did the responsibility. With more responsibility yielded longer hours, mounting stress, and a decline in my personal well-being. With long days, numerous networking events, lack of sleep and a poor diet, I was burning the candle at both ends.
I neglected myself and I began to realize I had an addiction.
This realization didn’t come overnight and I slowly became aware that I had to check myself in to rehab—but how?
Stage 1: Awareness and Early Acknowledgement. My first stage was marked by a growing awareness there was a problem. Remaining calm when a real estate transaction went awry was a gift I wasn’t quite able to master. I began a toxic relationship with stress by thriving off of it and putting work before everything that mattered to me in life.
In my mind, real estate had a direct correlation to wealth, success, but worst of all, stress. When work wasn’t stressful I didn’t feel like I was doing my job properly because these always went hand in hand. I was working crazy long hours and neglecting my family members, my friendships, and myself.
Stage 2: Awareness to Action. My second stage was realizing that I had an addiction.
“Hi, my name is Rony and I am a Workaholic.”
This stage was important because it made me look beyond myself and realize that friends and family members were negatively affected by my actions. I worked 16 hours days, went out for drinks with clients after work, came home late and woke up early to do it all over again. It was a very unhealthy and toxic cyclic pattern. I flaked on friends and family on numerous occasions, either because I was too exhausted or put all work engagements as a priority. The struggle was real.
Stage 3: Exploring Recovery. After finally accepting my addiction and moving past denial, I felt motivated to overcome this addiction of work and stress running my life. During this third stage I began to educate myself about the recovery process and what it means to live a “sober” life free from stress.
So, I found yoga. I began taking yoga classes to keep me sane and balanced in a career path that mimicked that of a roller coaster ride.
Stage 4: Early Recovery. This period was a time of both great significance and significant risk.
During this stage, I began to balance my life. I learned how to remain stress and anxiety-free for the long term through a consistent yoga practice, morning meditation and a healthy diet. I cut back on drinking and I learned to protect myself from outside negative energy that was weighing down on me.
The recovery stage is a time of great vulnerability. As a previous addict of my real estate career, this stage marked a period of change.
I began retracting from people within the industry, cancelling happy hours, and disengaging with people who were linked to that stressful lifestyle. Relapse is far from uncommon during this early recovery stage. But it was important to me to keep my own health, family and friends in mind in order to not relapse into old patterns.
The most important steps in early recovery were to develop new coping skills and healthy habits, committing to following through with plans, not overbooking myself and, most importantly, rebuilding damaged relationships externally and internally. I experienced major growing pains during the stage four, which was not easy because my ego wanted to get the best of me.
Externally, relationships had already been severed and internally, I lost a sense of who I was.
Stage 5: Maintenance. By this stage, most addicts have completed a great deal of work and have made great progress. I had to learn that being a workaholic and being tied to my real estate life was comfortable to fall back into, but not necessarily the healthiest for me.
I work day to day to guard against relapse and have to continually monitor my thoughts and behaviors. Yoga is now my support system. Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or anxious, my trigger is to step onto my yoga mat and focus on Asana and breath work. Recovery is much more than overcoming an addiction; it is complete mind, body and spirit awareness.
Fast Forward Three Years After:
Yoga is a necessity to my day-to-day life. I fell in love with it so much that I got certified and began teaching full time. My compassion and connection to my students has enabled me to be an understanding teacher, especially in Los Angeles where many struggle with the “rat race” of working long hours to obtain monetary success.
As a society, we are never fulfilled but rather want to achieve more, gain the next promotion or make more money, but when is it ever enough? Yoga has taught me to be content with what I have and what is important in life; my health, my happiness and my family.
I am fortunate to have gone through these five stages and walk from the depths of addiction to the freedom and promise of long-term abstinence from stress, real estate and being a workaholic. I am in such a better place now than I was at the peak of my real estate position and “monetary success.”
I wouldn’t take back or change anything about what I endured because it molded me into the hardworking, disciplined and passionate person that I am today.
As a full time private yoga teacher, leading international retreats and teaching aerial silks, I am proud of the decision I made to step away from a career path that no longer served me. Instead, I have chosen a path that yields a better quality of life through my dharma of teaching and spreading yoga locally and internationally.
Author: Rony Ghoraishy
Assistant Editor: Esther Fiore; Editor: Sara Kärpänen