I just returned from traveling on business, where I facilitated an offsite for a project I am working on. My boss and co-workers accompanied me, and it turned out great. While there, I had an interesting experience that I want to share because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that experiences this.

My boss is a great lady who genuinely cares about and takes care of her people. On this trip, she really took care of us by renting a mini-van to drive us back and forth to the hotel, paying for dinners on her corporate card, and looking for opportunities for us to have fun (like stopping for Philly cheesesteaks on the way to the airport).

Pushing Back Against Bing Cared For 

Early in the trip, I found myself pushing back against being cared for, so I got a little curious about that. As a trauma survivor with severe attachment wounds, it is understandable that I sometimes have issues with authorities in my life. The catch here was that she was doing nothing wrong or bad…everything she was doing was with kindness and gentleness to care for us, but I was resisting that.

I started to ask myself what that was about. It was definitely a trauma response. I quickly realized this was related to the bind children experience when they naturally turn to their caregivers for comfort/support, and those caregivers are abusive like my dad was.

In Janina Fisher’s book, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivorsshe says, “When attachment figures are abusive, the child’s only source of safety and protection becomes simultaneously the source of immediate danger, leaving the child caught between two conflicting sets of instincts. On the one hand, they are driven by the attachment instinct to seek proximity, comfort, and protection from attachment figures. On the other, they are driven by equally strong animal defense instincts to freeze, fight, flee, or submit or dissociate before they get too close to the frightening parent”(p. 24).

While that made sense to me, I recognized it as part of the living legacy of trauma under which I no longer had to operate. As trauma survivors, it is important for us to live in the “NOW” because that is where we have our POWER. As children, we did not have the ability or the power to protect and care for ourselves, but we do NOW.

Attachment in the Workplace

The residual effect of attachment wounds as children show up all the time in the workplace, but we may not recognize it. Have you ever observed a person at work who has to do everything for themselves and doesn’t want anyone mucking around in their sandbox? Have you ever seen someone or even experienced yourself being overwhelmed by being over capacity and swirling because they/you could not ask for help?

Sometimes this behavior is even rewarded both in childhood and adulthood, which makes it harder to recognize. Parents or teachers are often thrilled by a child who takes responsibility for their own care and is less of a drag on their already thin emotional resources. As managers/leaders, we are relieved when we have a self-sufficient employee who doesn’t require much care and feeding. They are low maintenance.

What we don’t see is that on the inside, these children and adults are functioning in full-on survival mode. They are doing only what is necessary for safety and survival. When we constantly operate out of survival mode, it starts to break down our health due to increased cortisol levels and the inability to relax. It is not sustainable and will eventually result in anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Sinking into Support

Even though I have done a lot of work in therapy, the habitual pattern of thinking that I have to take care of myself still creeps up at times, as it did on my trip; only now, I have the tools to be able to manage it.

I acknowledged that this was related to my attachment wounds and reminded myself that my boss was not my father. So, basically, I became more present with the current situation and put my past back in its place. Once I addressed that old thinking, I was able to sink into my manager’s care without feeling threatened by it.

Since this is a relatively new experience for me, I want to describe what it felt like for me. It felt like laying down in the middle of a bed that had a super duper mattress topper on it and then being covered up with blankets. It felt like being held and rocked as a child. I felt safe and cared for…and relaxed. It was like the 1,000-pound gorilla was no longer on my back. It was awesome. I was amazed by how good it felt.

That is how support is supposed to feel. It should hold you up. It should take the weight off of you. It should assist you and enable you to function at a higher level.

This is what I do as a coach, which is why I love what I do. I want my folks to feel the support that they might never have experienced in their lives before. I want to help them live in the present and achieve the career goals they have set for themselves. I want to enable them to function at a higher level in the workplace.

You don’t have to do this alone

If you are struggling with overcoming the living legacy of trauma in your work life, you are not alone, and you don’t have to manage it alone. We were never meant to carry this burden or walk the path to healing alone. The weight is too heavy, and the journey is too long.

What about you? Where are you in your healing journey? Are you still trying to go it alone? Are you curious about what it would be like to have support? Are you just plain tired of having to pull yourself up by your bootstraps over and over again…alone?

I’m here for you. You can find me at www.cyndibennettconsulting.com. Schedule your complimentary discovery call today.

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