#HeyLauren: Are We Addicted to the Hustle?

"Hey, Lauren" is our new bi-monthly column from licensed psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri.  Dr. Hazzouri is a TV show host and founder at Hazzouri Psychology, where she’s carved out a successful niche treating women who are psychologically healthy—but trying hard and not getting satisfaction in various aspects of their lives. Through her life experience and training, Lauren’s developed a program that allows women to live meaningful lives and feel fulfilled doing it. Lauren is founder of HeyLauren.com, a project for women, where she provides evidence-based insights on job stress, relationship woes and everything in between. 

photo credit: Kelley Raye

photo credit: Kelley Raye

An advanced google search for “hustle” and “women,” results in 13,500,000 quotes, images, and articles attempting to inspire us to Hustle Hard (insert muscle emoji) with messages like: “Real woman hustle, “Good things come to those who hustle,” and my personal favorite, “If she ain’t got no hustle, then she ain’t worth shit.” (insert blank face emoji.) While the intention—to motivate us to try our best—is clear, the tactic is warped and the message falls horrendously short of empowerment. 

Over 40% of household breadwinners in the U.S. are women ( U.S. Bureau of Labor), and women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S, making up 30% of privately owned businesses.

So, in many ways it appears that our #Hustle mentality is working for us, but at what cost? My concern is that the #Hustle is another of our reactions to the patriarchal system that we are attempting to overcome. As a clinician, I see women everyday (just like you!) hustling their tails off to meet deadlines, prove their abilities, close the big deal. At the same time, they’re exhausted, feeling less than satisfied, exhibiting a nervous energy that hardly makes life enjoyable. To me, the #Hustle is simply a glorified manifestation of perfectionism in the workplace, and it needs to be viewed as such before we #Hustle ourselves directly out of the very game we’re equipped to dominate when in tune with ourselves, unaffected by the noise, and achieving balance.

"It appears that our #Hustle mentality is working for us, but at what cost?"

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The #Hustle is appealing, of course. I’d go as far as to say it’s addicting! We’re human-beings, and humans tend to repeat anything that feels good. For women, especially, nailing the presentation and bringing home the bacon feels SO damn good. Let’s face it— while becoming increasingly common, doing so remains against all odds. So, it can feel intoxicating. I get it! Let me be clear, I’m not preaching mediocrity for the masses. Mediocrity makes my skin crawl. Instead, I’m suggesting that balance is best. While it may seem risky, I’m willing to bet that your performance and quality of life both improve when you hop off the #Hustle hamster wheel and into you. When you’re in tuned with yourself, your voice, your relationships, and your community, there ain’t no telling what you can accomplish. Bottom line—the #Hustle is limiting your potential. It’s certainly not fueling it. 

To increase life satisfaction and performance simultaneously, let’s take a page out of the overcoming perfectionism handbooks that is guaranteed to have you #Hustling toward your health. With health and balance working for you, the sky’s the limit!

Here’s how:


There are ways of thinking—Black and White thinking, Catastrophic Thinking, Awfulizing, and The Shoulds— that are synonymous with the #Hustle and lead to hamster wheel hell. In lieu of internalizing these negativistic thoughts, recognize the debilitating patterns and let ‘em go. It’s typical practice in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to swap the “irrational” thoughts for more “rational” ones. Because your thoughts make complete sense, given the patriarchal society you’ve unintentionally internalized, I choose to call them self-destructive vs. self-promoting thoughts, instead. NOTE: Even changing the language is a necessary part of working counter to the current of pathologizing women and gives us permission to be ourselves—as we are, today. 


Your time matters. Your relationships matter. Your community matters. We’re all in this together, and we need you. It’s important to keep your character—honesty, accountability, responsibility, and integrity—in tact. Doing so will allow you to easily set boundaries and save yourself for the living part of life. Meeting deadlines and slaying the day are fine and dandy, as long as you can do that, while feeling the value and meaning in your presence. 


Enough with the procrastination, too! You spend as much time talking about the #Hustle as you do #Hustling. Most of the time, it’s because you’re afraid your product won’t be “good enough”. I suggest a cognitive shift. Crush your “to-do” list with a Do it to get it done mindset. The result will surprise you! In dropping the self-prescribed standards, you’ll engage in a lot less bitching and a lot more doing. You’re welcome!

"Crush your 'to-do' list with a do it to get it done mindset."

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Compulsive behaviors are born out of pain, low self-esteem, and the like. The answer is NOT to continue with self-destructive patterns. Instead the answer is to let go of past upsets and disappointments and treat yourself as you would a loved one. The #Hustle can’t hold a candle to self-compassion when it comes to feeling good. So, if you’re going to compulsively do anything, I motion for compulsive self-care seven out of seven days of the week. 


Fear, guilt, and shame fuel the #Hustle mentality. The answer is exposure! You’re afraid to take the day off? Take two! Worried you’ll let your team members down? Well, you’re a team member, too. Even more— when balanced, your work is on time, on point, and on top. So, really, run toward discomfort! The key is to get comfortable being uncomfortable. 


There’s no such thing as a make or break situation. Nothing and no one can make or break you, other than you. So, take it all in stride—one day at a time. We’re all on a quest to “meet our purpose”, but you are your purpose. Without you, you’ve got nothin’. And, you’re integral to the big picture. So, it’s high time to treat yourself with the value you possess between your head and your toes. 

Following these tips will allow you to shine through the #Hustle with ease, balance, and grace, keeping in mind that yes!—your contribution to the world is ultimately important. BUT, You are your contribution! #HustleToYourHealth and the rest will follow (ten-fold!). 


Dr. Lauren’s on a mission to bring psychology to the public. She contributes to a variety of online publications, provides candid talks to women’s organizations across the country, and was recently cited in Forbes. Lauren’s next appearance is on September 9, when she will deliver a Ted Talk entitled Life Works. Her talk is said to highlight various aspects of the book she’s currently writing on “how to do the human-being thing really well.” 

Dr. Lauren is the 2016 recipient of The Psychology in the Media Award from The Pennsylvania Psychological Association and is a member of The American Psychological Association. For more from Lauren, visit @dr_lauren  and sign up for her weekly newsletter at HeyLauren.com.


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