We’re all adults right?
Yes and no.
Outwardly we are and have the physique and qualifications to prove it!
We all have a hidden part of our psyche/mind which is called our Inner Child. He or she lives deep inside us and is the echo of who we once were as a child. It carries our beliefs about ourselves and it directs our sub-conscious behaviour – about 90% of the time – at home, on our travels and of course at work.
If you experienced childhood trauma – or Adverse Childhood Experiences this will have left an imprint upon your impressionable inner child. An emotional wound that still weeps in the present day. Our wounds show themselves in all aspects of our lives.
Even though your inner child won’t have been wounded at work it will show its earlier wounds there – affecting your decisions, reactions and consequently your work and business relationships,
How can your wounded inner child affect you at work and in business?
* Self doubt – feeling not up to the job, incompetent and likely to ‘get it wrong’
* Avoiding making decisions or taking action – due to the fear of making a mistake and looking foolish or failing
* Put off doing something until it’s perfect -which it never will be. This is one of the main reasons for procrastination
* Feeling that the work you do and the contribution you make to the team isn’t ‘good enough’ – which is actually just a projection of a faulty self-belief
* Being overly sensitive to criticism or ‘feedback’. It wounds you deeply and you take a long time to recover – and you’re likely to then hold onto those bad feelings and bear a grudge
* Hiding behind the ego – to protect your vulnerability to shame and of feeling inferior. Staying in your head to avoid feeling from your heart
* Showing a mask of bravado and fake superiority – as an attempt to hide the inner child’s real feelings of weakness and inferiority
* Feeling like a fraud who’s about to be exposed (this is also called ‘Imposter Syndrome’)
* Anger at authority figures and avoiding compliance with the rules – the rebellious inner child in action!
* Being overly compliant and a people-pleaser. Perhaps even a sycophantic groveller – which will alienate you from colleagues and may even make you the object of ridicule or disdain
* Not risking sharing your own identity and opinions or preferences – due to the fear of being shamed and ‘put down’ by others
* Easily becoming overwhelmed and potentially burnt out – due to being out of touch with your own needs and lack of self-care. Working too hard for too long and creating health problems which are then ignored
* Dread of failure – and your ‘ego identity’ must be fiercely protected from any potential shame and the exposure of your failure
* Overly independent, and fiercely avoiding delegation and collaboration – trying to do it all yourself and not trusting others to help you or to get it ‘right’ for you
* Blaming outside influences – the economy, the government, colleagues, competitors – for any lack of success
* Needing to prove to your parents (real or your internalised ‘inner parents’) that you are an OK person after all and can be successful in spite of them – no matter what risks that entails you taking in your job or business
* Still being internally ruled by your past parent-child dynamics. Your ‘inner critical parent’ then shows itself in the office/workplace/boardroom and keeps your inner child squashed and needing to prove their worth. Perhaps by over exaggeration of your skills and competences, or by turning into a critical bully towards other people
* Resistance to grow beyond your parent’s level of success – or that of your siblings. Keeping yourself small to please, and appease the ego of family members
* Fear and dread of standing out, speaking up and making an impact on others – even though you know you have something of great value to share that other people want and need
* Seeing yourself as a fighter and being too quick to challenge and defend your position – or any potential threat to it. Your over-reactivity comes from your urge to avoid the anticipated pain and shame of being attacked or belittled in any way. You ‘get in there first’ – just in case!
* Lack of emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) – lack of effective communication or understanding of colleagues/staff communication. Perhaps, if you were emotionally neglected as a child, you may struggle to understand or express emotions and have what is called Alexithymia. This creates poor leadership messages, weaker team bonding, lack of adequate emotional attunement to either staff’s or colleague’s needs, confusing mixed messages; and inadequate praise and motivation of colleagues, employees, freelancers etc.
* Lacking courage, assertiveness and being able to lead others – your inner child might not believe you can or should be a leader, and might scupper your impact and effectiveness with limiting self-talk and unassertive behaviour (both passive or aggressive)
* Due to overcompensating for feelings of fear and doubt you might then become the autocratic, rigid, distant, aloof, bullying narcissistic who avoids feeling vulnerable at the expense of other’s feelings
* You may crave being liked and popular and have weak and loose boundaries – being overly friendly perhaps with inappropriate or mixed messages, and misplaced flirtatiousness – or even harassing behaviours
All in all…you aren’t free to just get on and do your best and get the job done!
Your emotional wounds are being activated on the job and you aren’t operating from your more stable, reliable, competent ‘adult’ state of mind.
How can your free and natural inner child benefit you at work and in your business?
It’s not all bad news having your inner child at work with you!
It depends upon how emotionally healthy and healed they are.
Having a happy inner child who doesn’t have a need to behave in the ways above will instead free up a huge amount of positive energy which brings great rewards. Such as:-
* Natural creativity
* Seeing the bigger picture and having access to more vision and connecting themes
* Having light playful banter and humour with colleagues – with no underlying ‘agenda’
* Listening and learning more about others and their needs – with customers and your team. The inner child has a natural curiosity and desire to connect with people
* Showing modesty and humility – and making and giving time to others
* Always seeking and learning new ideas and concepts and being willing to collaborate, delegate and communicate openly
* Becoming a calm, confident and emotionally intelligent leader and being comfortable with being a successful business owner/manager or employee
What can you do to have your inner child work for you and not against you?
We also need to follow the steps to psychological healing and transformation.
I have created an acronym (my inner child LOVES acronyms!) – it’s called .S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life ©
Self-awareness – of how your Inner Child turns up at work, and the effects this has upon you, others and your business/job. There’s no need or place here for any self blame about that – just have a willingness to see how your inner child is involved in how you perceive, imagine, think, feel, speak and behave
Education – about how your inner child has developed and any Adverse Childhood Experiences (or your ACE score) that have shaped who you’ve become – which includes you at work – and to normalise this in light of what you find out about your past conditioning and sub-conscious programming
Learning new skills – specifically for the workplace these might include clearer communication, team building, self management/time/priority and goal setting, presenting, monitoring and evaluation. All very ‘adult’ skills that are necessary in business and the workplace
Emotional balance & intelligence – being better able to notice, listen and empathise. Keeping your own emotions within the healthy bandwidth and being attuned and responsive to the emotional expression (or lack of it) from the people around you
Control clarity and choice – become the clear, confident, competent, caring, approachable and supportive team-mate or boss that you would like to have for yourself.
Transformation – this might involve a few stumbles and backward steps – but to stay committed to being the best you can be at work by taking the best care of your inner child. Having them working for, and not against, you will transform your results and bring you much greater success in all areas of your working life.
The take-away from this is that you inner child is always with you, and will show themselves in your habitual out-of-awareness behaviours. These shape your life and set up self-fulfilling prophesies.
You have the choice to make these prophesies either helpful or a hindrance to you.
You alone can truly connect and commit to healing your inner child, and to take responsibility for ‘re-parenting’ them and in meeting their future ongoing needs, and thereby healing their old emotional wounds. I call this Care & Repair From The Inside Out © ‘.
You can then happily take them to work with you knowing they will enhance and not hinder your success!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
There’s also an inexpensive self-help online course called How To Sort Out Your Business Brain – without coaching!‘