This post was first published on 11 February 2015 on The Humble Pilgrim WordPress blog I created back then (doesn’t exist anymore). It was an anonymous blog page I started when I was going through a journey of self-exploration.
There’s a quote that resonates with how I feel today, “Don’t let success get to your head and failure get to your heart”. It just struck me that the way I’ve been operating the past few months at work is through putting my colleague down so I can feel more worthy. I’ve basically been a bully without even realising it.
A new addition joined the team recently and for whatever reason, I felt threatened. They are obviously very good at their job, but I also think that our vibrations matched. I’d been in this needy state of trying to get all the attention possible, and them being new in the team, they want to make the positive impact and grab the limelight. For all this time, I’ve been trying to find ways to demonstrate that I’m better, that I’m more knowledgeable, more effective, you name it, just so I can keep the attention on me, just so I can keep getting the acknowledgement from my bosses that I’m the best, the shining star and the apple of their eyes. I’ve turned my bosses into my mother and father. I expect them to love and accept me in the same way a child expects it from their parents, and it’s a belief that is very hard to shake. Today is another incident that brought me to this awareness again.
This said colleague confided in me in the most basic, authentic and vulnerable way that they feel like they are not adding value to the team. At first it gave me a rush of triumph, that I’ve achieved my goal, that they don’t feel good enough. But then it hit me. Minutes later I felt so ashamed of myself for making her feel unworthy, and I realized that I’d been doing this all this time.
There’s a part of me that is so needy to the point that I made up stories in my head and turned work into my family. I made my bosses my parents and I have this belief in my head that it’s their job to make me feel worthy of love and acceptance in return for my hard work. This is what makes me so successful in my business, I work till the cows come home if I have to, out of loyalty. My language is “hey, I’ll give myself away and work my ass off, and you’ll give me admiration and acknowledgement in return” almost like “I take care of business, and you take care of me”. How dysfunctional is that?
And so as soon as this contract is threatened by other members joining the team, this part of me that craves this safety will do anything to keep latching onto the comfortable pattern. And anything can also mean putting others down along the way.
So how do I move past the shame of my behaviour and heal the wound of my worthiness and acceptance?
I’m trying to turn the shame into guilt. Brene Brown always said, shame makes us feel that something is wrong with us, while guilt is about our behaviour and therefore guilt makes us more empowered to make a change. And with guilt there’s a part of me that wants to genuinely apologize to my colleague with great humility for the way I treated them, the way it made them feel and for bringing me to my own consciousness of my behaviour.
I would say “I realise I’ve been a bit of a crappy colleague, I feel that I’ve not allowed you to develop in the team because I felt threatened by you. I only realised it when you humbly told me that you are worried about the value you bring to the team. Thank you for being very honest and vulnerable, it helped me get in touch with my own vulnerabilities and come to terms with my own behaviour. I want us to be an effective team, please tell me how I can help you and let’s agree on how we can best work together.”
The other aspect I’m working on resolving is trying to feel worthy independently from my workplace. It’s not my boss’ job to take care of me, it’s mine. This dysfunctional contract must be broken, and a healthier one must replace it. It should sound like something along the lines of: “I take care of me, I deliver what’s expected of me, and whether I do a good or bad job is not a reflection of my own person, I’m still worthy of love and belonging either way.” Feeling worthy must be something I cultivate on a daily basis. I must create habits that teach me worthiness, love and acceptance. I must form habits of respect, rather than loyalty, respect for my own health, body and heart. In doing so, I can be more whole, less needy and less dependent on external factors to make me feel accepted.
Thank you for being part of my journey and for sharing my moments of lucidity.
Love and light
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