A client of mine, let’s call her Lola, would go to work and feel like she just didn’t belong.
Lola’s a teacher and felt like she wasn’t as good of a teacher as her co-teacher. She felt like the students in her classroom preferred the co-teacher over her.
If her co-teacher received a positive email from the administration and Lola hadn’t received it yet, she would immediately retreat into her head, feeling like she was left out or inferior in some way. Even though she would receive the email a few moments later.
Have you ever felt like this at work? Like somehow you just aren’t good enough?
Lola knew that her second guessing and feelings of competitiveness with her co-teacher were eating away at her. Logically, she knew that most of this was in her head. But she just couldn’t stop it.
Day after day something would trigger her.
Lola wanted to figure this out for herself. She wanted to know why all of this insecurity was coming up for her.
So, we explored. We walked through The Parent Work™ process. I asked her questions about how she felt with her Mom and Dad when she was younger.
We focused in on her Mom first.
Her Mom is bipolar, even though they didn’t really know that while growing up.
As a girl, Lola witnessed her Mom going into rages and highly charged emotional states and then going into depression.
She would also have some beautiful moments with her Mom.
But Lola never knew what she was going to get, given her Mom’s mood was so unpredictable.
Lola expressed how she felt really judged by her Mom when she was younger.
She felt like she couldn’t wear the right thing, wasn’t cultured enough or religious enough. Her Mom would compare her to her cousin and say, “Why can’t you be like her?”
Lola translated that to mean she needed to be someone different to have her Mother’s love.
We had her have a vulnerable conversation with her Mom. This is something Lola never did because she didn’t want to trigger her Mom’s depression or make her feel bad, or be the reason her Mom had another episode.
So to say the least, Lola dreaded this conversation, but was open to having it because she wanted to get to the bottom of her own insecurities.
Lola opened up to her Mom about how she was feeling at work. Then, she told her how it was connected to the way she felt when she was little; she felt like she wasn’t good enough for her Mom.
Her Mom’s first response was, “I don’t understand why you have these kinds of negative thoughts. We raised you to be positive. ”
Lola left the conversation feeling confused and upset. I would have too.
Her Mom didn’t even acknowledge the piece about how she felt when she was younger.
She reached out to me to tell me what happened.
I said, “She had that response because she was trying to protect you and just wants you to be okay, versus really listening to you.” So many parents do this.
I said, “Try again. Express how you really want her to listen to how you felt and acknowledge it, because that would really help you. Versus trying to make sure you’re okay, which you are.
Lola tried again.
And this time, her Mom acknowledged how Lola felt when she was younger and said that she didn’t mean it. She didn’t have enough patience with Lola because she felt a lot of hardship with her older brother.
Then her Mom started saying, “Make sure you don’t trust your co-workers. Don’t let them know where you live or invite them over. They will take advantage of you, so be careful.”
A light bulb went off for Lola.
She told me, “I never realized that her saying these kinds of things to me, like ‘don’t trust your co-workers’ was actually impacting me, but it has been. I’ve totally been consuming it without knowing it. Over the years when she would say things like this I just thought, here she goes again!”
Lola told me making this connection was a huge relief. She said, “I had no idea why I was blocked like this, and I finally see why.”
I then asked Lola, “Do you have compassion for why your Mom has been saying these things? Because the awareness alone doesn’t release this for you.”
She said, “Actually I do. She faced so much bullying and racism in her profession, it was hard for her. I can feel that, and I did too. So I can relate. And now I can see she was just protecting me. I didn’t get that before.”
This was a powerful shift for Lola.
Now your turn.
What are you facing in your work that’s coming up for you right now? Is there a negative parental pattern you can identify? Let me know in the comments below.