Archive for July, 2012

When the Workplace Becomes a Stage for Your Abandonment Issues: What to Do When You’re Triggered

July 16, 2012 5 comments

When the Workplace Becomes a Stage for Your Abandonment Issues: What to Do When You’re Triggered


Blog: Susan Anderson © July 14, 2012



When the Workplace Triggers your Issues…    


You begin to feel nobody values your ideas.  Or somehow you become a scapegoat.  Or your coworkers gravitate toward your rival.  Or you’re overlooked for promotion.  Or your staff actively ignores your directives.  Or….


Any number of triggers can rekindle the old abandonment would, generating feelings you suffered in your family dynamics or in your peer groups at school.  It’s as if your primal abandonment sores start bleeding through, imprinting themselves onto your current experience.  The setting is different and the players have changed, but the emotional stain remains the same.  The workplace has somehow become a stage on which your old unresolved conflicts are reenacting themselves.  


Something, someone is making you feel small again… or invisible…  or misunderstood… or victimized… or slighted….   There you are in the same old emotional soup, only this time not as helpless.  


Now, with enough personal awareness, you flip it.  No matter how justified your grievances are, you can arise to your higher adult self and buck up.  Knock the chip off your shoulder, dump the sour grapes, and spit out the bitter pill.   To end the self sabotage you must take complete responsibility for the situation you are in by becoming the person you need to be to resolve it.  Rather than stay mired in the problem, advance to the level of the solution.  


Taking responsibility helps you heal the abandonment wound that is bleeding through.  You heal it not by wallowing in the feelings, but by picking yourself up by the bootstraps and becoming proactive on your own behalf.  Nobody was there to do that for you when you were young, but now you’re an adult, capable of taking yourself in hand and becoming your own best friend and nurturer.  


Responsibility’s starting point is personal awareness.  So, when a workplace conflict has that old familiar ring to it, recognize that it is because it is replicating a past emotional experience, and that this “bleeding through” means that YOU, however unwittingly, have played a part in the conflict (through subtle forms of self-sabotage), even if your grievances are justified.  You’re not a needy child now.  You’re not a kid in high school craving approval.  You are an adult who can turn this around.  You can avail yourself of powerful tools – mental exercises – that help you flip it.  


Maybe you do have a tyrannical boss whose personal biases cause her to undervalue you.  Maybe your colleague truly does have Borderline Personality Disorder and unjustly blames everything he feels on you.  These are the externals we can’t control.  There are people out there who have disastrous personality disorders… or are incompetent but manage to smell like a rose… or who are unstable basket cases… or have authority conflicts or jealousy conflicts and put you in no win positions.  Remember, each person has his or her own issues from the past bleeding through, staining their perceptions and reactions both to you and the workplace.  


You can’t change them or will them to react differently to you.  You can only deal with yourself.  Yes, you have a right to feel miserable when you have been maligned, but remind yourself that remaining mired in the resentment only embeds you further in the victim role.    


So flip it.  Stop sabotaging yourself in the workplace.  Burst in the door filled with renewed energy, confidence, generosity, and goal-directedness.  Become who you need to be to blast through the contaminated environment and victimy miasma you’ve co-created and change the dynamic.  Seize new ground.  

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