In the previous article you may have discovered that you unconsciously perceive your work as a venue for meeting your unmet childhood needs of acceptance, love and approval. In fact, you might have been funnelling most of your daily energy into this as your work and can tell because you feel its influence over how you work and how you ended up working where you do. Or perhaps realize that this is in part why it feels like you never get to your real work at work.
When you realize that your actual “work” is not to find ways to be accepted, loved and/or approved of, there’s a good chance you’ll come face-to-face with the feeling that every human being aching for more meaning and filfillment has had to make friends with. The feeling of inadequacy from thinking that you haven’t gotten “anywhere” or done “anything” of significance with your life.
And thinking these thoughts ( … or thoughts like this – come on ego – can’t you just extrapolate a little?! One day you’re going to have to accept that you’re human and not above the experience of everyone else. So why not let that be today?) is what makes you really feel all alone in the world.
Love can’t reach you in this frame of being. And the love you give isn’t so great to receive. It’s a very watered down experience to be honest.
But this is to be expected because when you choose default strategies to meet your needs around love, acceptance and approval, you can’t choose conscious strategies that would actually satisfy these needs. Remember that most of the time, our egos don’t like acknowledging that we’re humans with needs or if we do, we are very, very attached about how those needs are supposed to get met.
Unsuccessfully satisfying these needs in a genuine way creates and sustains the feeling of inadequacy. But rather than acknowledge this, in a body that appears grown up coupled with an embarrassment at really and deeply admitting what you want and expect from others that indicate unresolved childhood needs, you strive for (and achieve) success in the mainstream world.
This makes for a very complicated relationship because based on what you have, you “should” be happy, but “looking good” in your career and actually “feeling good” in your career are two very different things.
So without the courage to look inward, to parent and retrieve ourselves on ice in memories that make us think and act in ways that don’t give us the experience of life that satisfy our needs, we humans witness each other in the context of work being less than our desirable selves. Reliving emotional replays unable to thaw and move on from these experiences not recognizing a personal archeological site when we find one.
And work – the venue where you could be and cultivate the best you is instead used to be and become the very worst version of you. This is inevitable when you allow yourself to think it’s normal and okay to hate work – sometimes or all the time as part of life. It’s the part of you that believes you should win an undeserved lottery rather than live courageously.
And more often than not, the courage you need is to become aware of what you’re really responding to rather than what you think you are responding to.
Here’s my personal rule of thumb – if you’re not being “an adult” in the situation – trusting in your life and not attached to outcomes, then you’re looking at the situation through the eyes of your inner child. You’re triggered and regressed. If it weren’t so, you would give yourself permission to act with the kind of clarity that can only come from true consciousness – however that needed to look or be. Acting from love not fear.
And if you cannot do this, it means that your inner child has no inner parent – the part of you that lies dormant unable to influence you for the purpose of living your life as the real you and not as an extension of others (likely early caregivers whose responses are projected onto those at work).
Realizing this psychic influence from the past, it would make sense then that if career bliss were to appear before you, you might sabotage it because those core childhood needs are still a top priority. Namely because we were and still are very attached to how needs get met rather than growing up psychically to realize our resourcefulness and resources to get them met now.
So how do you get or experience acceptance, love and approval if that’s what you need to allow yourself to acknowledge, find and create work that feels like bliss?
I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to like it. No one likes hearing this for the first time (or the 100th time), because this is the “work” that you don’t want to do. You don’t want to start where you are because what I’m about to suggest is so simple and yet so hard. So obvious and so illusive at the same time.
The real solution lies in accepting the parts of yourself that your family of origin could not when you were a child:
The “loud” you from childhood is perhaps now the “advocate and leader” that you’ve been denying in yourself.
(You if you recall, you were called loud because you were acting happy for yourself in that moment – not because you were like that all the time necessarily.)
The “arrogant” you from youth is perhaps now a “clear-headed decision maker” that has been in hiding all these years.
(Perhaps you were told not to be arrogant when you said you knew how to do something but your care giver didn’t realize you’d learned and thought you were just trying to get attention or show off.)
The “mean” you from your younger years is perhaps now someone with “impeccable boundaries” that makes people want to come to work because they feel emotionally safe, but that doesn’t happen because you’re afraid of people thinking that you’re mean .
(You were called mean when you didn’t feel comfortable giving a hug to someone and said that you didn’t want to.)
The “stupid” you from way back when is perhaps now the “bravely insightful” thinker that never shares anything with anyone for fear of rejection.
(This was because someone didn’t want to realize that they had copied down the wrong appointment time and you were the easy target for their anger.)
The “overly sensitive” you from your elementary school days is perhaps now the most sought after “people strategist” but you pretend that what you see and know doesn’t mean anything.
(This happened because everyone was playing a game and you were watching. You didn’t know that part of the game that they were playing involved lying on purpose. So you told the truth and everyone was mad at you for ruining the game. You cried about it and got this nick name.)
The rejected parts of “you” from childhood, when owned in adulthood, become your greatest and most sought after assets that support you doing the work that is most meaningful to you and that also happens to be your greatest contribution to your fellow human beings.
It’s time to sit with yourself and reflect on your rejected parts or “traits.” Take out your journal and write:
What traits did you get in trouble for, or get yelled at for, or get told off for, or get punished for, or get shamed for, etc. in childhood?
This next part might feel hard and take some time, but you’re going to think of “the golden quality” of each trait that you were taught was bad or unwanted about yourself.
To come up with the golden quality for each trait perceived as “not allowed” reflect on a work situation for each when you held yourself back or were disproportionately fearful (given the actual situation now when you think about it) of a response and acted against how you really wanted to act. Briefly describe the situation.
Once you have your situations written down consider what it is that you wanted to say or do in each if you could have been authentic – not defensive, but truly real. What behaviour on your part would have brought about a complete and total feeling of peace and trust in life for each situation and trait? Write that down. Now, maybe, take break and come back.
Re-read your words where you disclosed to yourself what behavior would have brought about a complete and total feeling of peace and trust in life. Now imagine that I or your best friend or your partner is sitting with you and telling you that we actually did what you wrote down in the given situation. What trait would you assign us? Complete this sentence to finish the exercise in your journal for each work situation and negative trait: “You did that?! You’re so …”
Compare this “golden quality” trait to each “shadow” trait you were assigned in childhood and just look and see what you’ve been suppressing in yourself all this time.
Psst …It’s not a secret that I asked you to try projecting yourself onto someone else in order to see yourself with greater clarity for this exercise. The mind’s ability to project can be used for your benefit. Your judgement of your behaviour is harsher without projection in this instance – you expect yourself to be super human, but you wouldn’t expect that of someone else. When it’s someone that you care about or have neutrality around by projecting them into your experience, you can see “yourself” plus you have the added benefit of being intimately familiar with the situation. This is also the same reason why getting advice from someone else about our situation is rarely useful – they imagine themselves as you, but aren’t intimate with all the variables at play. Unless you need something literal and physical fixed that you don’t know how to – it’s better for you to talk to people who want to help you see yourself clearly in your situation rather than someone that wants influence over your life (to avoid their own life and potential). Happens more than you know.
If the traits that are the keys to your freedom remain unclaimed, what this means is that you have the same self-expectations of how to belong that you did in childhood only now you’re in an adult body and you’re at work. It is also this dynamic that takes (unconscious) precedence without the realization that you need to change your relationship to survival in order to change your relationship to work in order to change what you write on your resume.
Attuning to who you really are is your best strategy – not commoditizing and compartmentalizing yourself.
What makes the difference in creating a tuned in and authentic approach to work and work choice is attunement to yourself. Meaning that in childhood, you learned to treat yourself how your parents and caregivers treated you, which was nothing more than a reflection of how they treated themselves.
Attunement, in contrast, means being approached with curiosity and compassion and kindness and allowing and acceptance for your experience (feelings, sensations, thoughts, etc.). An attuned parent regards his or her child as a separate being and a whole Universe unto his her herself that needed facilitation into adulthood rather than “raising.”
What “raising” seems to result in is being treated and regarded as an extension of your parents and caregivers and acquiring the message that some parts of you were welcome in your family of origin while some parts of you were not. This frozen perception is then carried into adulthood. Facilitation, in contrast, is a process of working with what exists without any attachment to the outcome.
For example, maybe being happy as a child was allowed, but your anxiety was highly problematic and your parents consider themselves a success if you’re not anxious. However, if today you experience anxiety and they notice or you share that with them, they don’t feel like a success and “act out” (in the form of blaming or making remarks that feel unwelcoming and not helpful) even though you are an adult. They still don’t regard you as a separate being with your own process and life (even if they say they do).
With attunement you are never asked to feel differently than you do. You are facilitated to understand, process and digest your own experience without someone else trying to impose their interpretation on you to discharge their pain and discomfort. Because in the absence of attunement, what anyone says is actually about making themselves feel better, and has nothing to really offer you for your own development or evolution.
Someone can tell you that they love you all the effing time, but if you don’t feel or experience being attuned to, you never have or will feel loved by them.
Only true acknowledgement that offers attunement through empathy (not to be confused with sympathy which doesn’t really have room for your unique experience) allows you to make choices centred and grounded in your true self that are even more professional than the choices you’re making now. Choices that begin on the pages of your resume that then reverberate into the rest of your life.
Becoming a psychic adult as well as a biological adult is to acknowledge a lack of attunement in your life. Every person has experienced a lack of attunement at some point and everyone that I know grew up in the absence of attunement a lot of the time. When you think about it, even conscientious parents offered not the parenting that you needed, but the parenting that they had always wanted for themselves. That’s what happens when you are viewed as an extension of someone else. That’s why you hear: “I gave you what I never had” from well-meaning, but misguided people. That’s what a lack of attunement does. It makes people angry that you aren’t grateful for something that they wanted or wished for.
So hear this now because to really be a psychic adult with access to all of your traits and the wholeness you felt as a child (smiling and laughing and blowing kisses at yourself in the mirror) the only person who can truly attune to you is you. And once you know how to do that for yourself, you meet others – your tribe and the work that is blissfully attuned to you.
Attunement though is something we expect from our parents that they can never give. They probably have yet to learn how to offer it to themselves. But denying any imperfection in childhood is the greatest barrier to self-attunement. You cannot buy into someone else’s version of reality if you are to experience attunement.
Last question to journal about now that you’ve considered how the emotional side of how your childhood has influenced your current relationship with work: What feelings would be desirable for you to experience at work as an adult? How do you want to feel about working and the people you work with? This is how you attune to your True North within your true self.
Where you fuel, re-tool and attune your imagination. Get your soul to work (on purpose). Ruthless compassion. Fierce gentleness. Sassy wisdom. And oodles of insight.