5 Strategies To Overcome Our Childhood Hangovers At Work

By Val Boyko • July 8th, 2011

woman superheroIn my reading and experience with clients I’ve found that our relationship with our mothers has a powerful long lasting affect on all our relationships as adults – including how we interact with others at work.

I call these “childhood hangovers“. We may not even be aware of them at first, but they sure do give us – and often those around us – some headaches! For many of us, recognizing them for what they are, and shifting our thinking can become just the aspirin we need!

Childhood hangovers are usually hidden behind our professional image and we don’t like to admit to anyone – including ourselves!

Here are some of the typical insecurities left over from childhood that many of us carry around:

–  It’s wrong to say what I really mean, express myself fully or speak up.

–  I believe that I am not good enough or deserve what I have.

–  It’s wrong to put my needs first before others. I find it difficult to say no.

–  I believe that I can make others happy – and they will like me if I try to please them.

–  I tell myself not to trust others because they will let me down or abandon me.

–  I resent any feedback. I tend to take it personally and defend myself.

–  I am not able to ask directly for what we want.

–  I resent being told what to do by people in authority.

–  I avoid confronting others and  tend to be the peacemaker.

If any of these resonate with you, please know that you are not alone. It isn’t just you. It’s pretty much everyone!

When we pay attention to childhood hangovers we are moving towards being free to be our true authentic selves.

Top 5  Strategies to Overcome Childhood Hangovers:

1. Become an observer of yourself. Notice times when you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable at work. Observe your self talk and behaviors when you feel anxious. Experience what is going on in your body.

2. Don’t reject anything you are experiencing. Withhold judgment or self criticism.  Remember this has come from a time when you were little. Find compassion instead for the child who needed this coping strategy to feel secure.

3. Start off small with small action steps. For example if you want to speak up more, then commit to doing it in a place where you feel safe first – like the dry cleaners or supermarket. From there, take it to the next level.

4. Avoid putting all your energy into the past (Why am I doing this?). Focus on strategies that will move you forward into a future without those behaviors. (What can I do differently next time?).

5. Imagine the person you would like to be. Fix that image in your mind. Now act as if you were that person. Start acting and you will grow towards being that person.


Val’s Comment: We are here for you. You don’t have to be strong and go it alone – It’s okay to ask for help…. Please get in touch if you’d like to explore more about your childhood hangovers at work.



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