Home > abandonment, Outer Child > Twenty Ways Your Outer Child Sabotages Your Success in the Workplace:

Twenty Ways Your Outer Child Sabotages Your Success in the Workplace:

Susan Anderson © May 2011

We all have an Outer Child – a hidden nemesis that is always interfering in our best laid plans – especially when we’re trying to advance.

Outer Child is the part of your personality that acts out in self-defeating patterns – that puts its foot in your mouth at a business meeting, , breaks your diet, and gets attracted to all the wrong people.

Outer Child’s antics really kick up at work.  Consider this:  The workplace creates a giant stage on which to prove your adequacy, find your position in the in the pecking order, and gain recognition and approval you’ve been craving since junior high school (admit it).  Work, then, becomes steeped in all of your emotional issues – both conscious and unconscious – a lot of them stemming from that most primal, universal of human fears – abandonment.  Overtime, you invest the workscape with more and more of your hidden insecurities, egoistic needs, and dreams.  This investment of primal emotion creates a fertile breeding ground for Outer Child to act out in ways that block your efforts to move forward.

Here’s how it works: You have an Inner Child, an Outer Child, and an Adult Self.  Your Outer Child acts out your feelings – your Inner Child’s feelings inappropriately.  Outer resorts to knee-jerk reactions and outmoded defense mechanisms that have become maladaptive.  If you have a lot of self-defeating patterns, it means your Outer Child is too strong, your Inner Child is too needy (of your attention), and your Adult Self is too weak.  This is reversible!

The first step in overcoming your Outer Child’s interference is to take its inventory – keep tabs on what it’s up to.   Do any of these traits describe your Outer Child?  Or a colleague’s?

  1. Outer Child prefers to go on facebook and read blogs than to take future-oriented actions.  Ha!
  2. Outer Child procrastinates.  It lives by the creed, “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.”  In Outer Child-speak, “till tomorrow” means indefinitely… or never!
  3. Outer Child is a hedonist – a slave to the need for immediate gratification. This explains its penchant for procrastination.  Outer likes tackling the more pleasurable, effortless, familiar tasks first, and puts off doing the more challenging tasks till “tomorrow.”  Outer likes doing what it likes.
  4. Outer excels at avoidance.  Outer is adept at avoiding things that are difficult, unfamiliar, and anxiety-producing.  Unfortunately, these are usually the very things that help you gain forward motion in your career.
  5. Outer Child gets learned helplessness at the most inconvenient times – especially when there’s a new learning curve with some new computer program… 
  6. Outer Child is an attention seeker.  Its motto:  “Negative attention is better than no attention at all.” 
  7. Outer Child is a master rationalizer.  Outer rationalizes that you are justified in your work slowdown, as you are conserving energy for a big initiative just around the corner.  Or that it’s prudent to forestall taking a positive action, as this gives you time to build better thinking-momentum and enhance your readiness.
  8. Outer Child avoids confrontation.  Outer will leave you at the short end of the stick to avoid risking anyone’s anger and disapproval, even if it’s someone you can’t stand.
  9. Outer would rather switch than fight. Outer is famous for appeasing both sides, letting conflict grow, leaving people fight it out for themselves.
  10. Outer Child hunkers down in the comfort zone and refuses to budge, even when your “Adult Self” absolutely vows to push forward into unfamiliar territory. Nope, Outer isn’t ready.
  11. Outer Child schmoozes, fraternizes, and clowns around when you should be setting boundaries and establishing your role.  Outer undermines your work persona.
  12. Outer Child is passive.  When action is called for, Outer would rather become obsessed about what you should be doing and harangue you with guilt about it – anything to avoid actually doing it.
  13. Outer Child becomes testy and critical when it sees coworkers taking actions you should have taken, especially when they get good results.  Outer’s sour grapes are a convoluted form of shame.
  14. Outer Child has social issues. Outer over-socializes when you should be creating credibility or taking leadership.  Conversely, when Outer feels intimidated by someone’s power or position, Outer under-socializes instead of forging bonds with key people.  Outer keeps you out of the power block.
  15. Outer Child grovels for approval rather than ask for what you want, i.e. a promotion, even though years of groveling has proved fruitless.  Outer Child likes banging your head against a stone wall.
  16. Outer Child is a people pleaser, making it easy to be taken advantage of.  Outer people-pleases when you should be establishing your power.
  17. Outer Child talks about people behind their backs.  Outer hates it when people talk about you behind your back.   Back biting is Outer’s way of “coalition building.” Colluding with a colleague about disliking another employee often backfires and undermines your trust-quotient in the workplace.
  18. Outer over does it – over teases others or over competes and gets you into serious conflict.  You vow to clean up your act, but when you’re not looking, Outer swoops in and pisses someone off.   Outer Child has OPD – Obnoxious Personality Disorder.
  19. Outer Child displays false cheerfulness to hide your boredom, low self-worth, or depression – whatever – interfering in your ability to seem real and grounded.
  20.  Outer Child can squelch you. Outer tries to keep you under the radar to protect (over-protect) you from standing out and possibly getting judged or criticized, or deemed inadequate.  Invisibility is not in your career’s best interest.

Advancing your career involves overcoming your self defeating patterns through a step by step program that heals primal abandonment and strengthens the coalition between your Adult Self and your Inner Child.  No matter now obstructive your Outer Child, you can realign your psyche and put Outer in its place.

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Categories: abandonment, Outer Child Tags:
  1. cv
    June 1, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    How do we put our outer child in its place?

  1. June 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

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