“I think sometimes people hang around at jobs too long, reliving childhood traumas because it feels comfortable. “Maybe it wasn’t those exact words, but I put down that sentiment. His awkward look of surprise clued me in that I chose inappropriate happy-hour small talk. But, seriously, who wants to talk about the weather or politics?
Somehow talking about the idea of who we replay childhood emotional pain at work is taboo. Like we need to split ourselves: broken at home; well-adjusted at work. Thanks to Gabor Mate’s work, I recognized this pattern of bringing my lonely and emotionally barren childhood to marriage. So why not work, too?
Except, people with fucked up childhoods often day camp in toxic workplaces. The more well-adjusted campers, who know their worth, quickly recognize the dysfunction and GTFO—those accustomed to feeling disempowered, unseen, and unheard, we lock in for the irrational nostalgic trip.
Maybe, unconsciously, we’re still desperately seeking validation. All the while, we ruminate. We pick workplace nemesis based on similarity to those who wounded us in our childhood. Somehow our nemesis choice often seems irrational to others. Like, “Seriously? That benign jerk has you reacting like that?”
I don’t know if that is what anyone wants from a person in charge, but it’s probably not a moody, sullen, poor communicator. When I stare at that person, I scroll through all the things I could have done wrong to disappoint that person.
Suddenly, I become the seven-year-old version of myself who believes she’s a burden to other people with her asks, sensitivities, and presence. One of my childhood “little t” trauma manifestations is someone who internalized each scold for being hurt or scared, and I stuff all of those emotions down to please others. As I write this, I want to hug that little girl. But, honestly, a little self-compassion is a total win for someone who’s erroneously tried to self-judge her way to wholeness for far too long.
Someone once said, “Life is too short to work for assholes,” but it’s more complicated for people conditioned to doubt their worth and experience in sub-optimal environment survival. We get locked in and linger too long where we don’t belong. All the while talking about how people with shitty childhoods play out shitty childhood narratives is not polite talk.
That’s way too much of a downer to end a blog post, so there’s these wise words from the Poet Yung Pueblo.
PS -This trauma talk ignores this Adlerian psychology idea (and later Tony Robbins talk); there’s no such thing as trauma. Basically, emotional pain comes from the meaning you apply to events you’ve deemed traumatizing. I concede with that point, but re-framing events and working on limiting beliefs is many people’s work of a lifetime.
Stay tuned for that blog post.