The Workplace Worries of an Abuse Survivor

Posted on

Shortly after a new employee started at a local insurance company, the veteran staff members agreed that he was "very nice" and "would go out of his way for you." They knew nothing about what motivated these behaviors in his workplace nor the fact that he subconsciously viewed it as his home-of-origin.

The ground floor serves as the foundation upon which all others in a building rest. So, too, does a person’;s upbringing-except that it becomes the foundation upon which his life rests. If it has entailed abuse, dysfunction, or even alcoholism, it is weak and can easily crumble, often requiring a person to compensate for it with inflated and sometimes often scripted behavior characteristics others fail to understand. He sees the world the way no others do.

This foundation often requires a person to camouflage his shortcomings by portraying an image to that which he feels or believes about himself. He may, for example, be perceiving as being outwardly friendly and easily getting along with others, but inwardly he churns with fear and insecure, engaging in silent conflicts with others as he chews on the things that do that retrigger his own untolerated ones.

Insecurity, fear of mistakes, an inability to perform the functions for which he believes he is incapable, and internal employee conflicts may spark frequent and spontaneous job resignations.

Conversely, this continual need to mask these insecure aspects can transform a person into the super-worker, as he acts out his childhood need to obey and comply with every rule and hence prove his ability and self-worth by volunteering for projects others avoid, overworking and -aching, people- and boss-pleasing, working overtime with or without additional compensation, assuming increased responsibilities, and even taking work home, in the process becoming the quintessential "company man" without others ever understanding his motivations.

Ironically, this performance and loyalty may lead to ever-higher positions for which he is not emotionally equipped, causing him to compensate for and cover up the increasing terrified feelings with even greater deduction and effort. In their extreme, these endeavors can replace his nonexistent personality until it becomes his personality, as he is transformed from a human being to a human doing.

Most of his misbeliefs about his inadequacies result from his continuously replayed critical parent voices, which echo the real, but seldom satisfied reception of his accomplishments during his upbringing. Like a computer, his brain can only return what has been downloaded into it.

Long striped of boundaries at home, he is easily used and exploited by coworkers and supervisors alike. As a victim cultivated by his upbringing, he can be taken advantage of and knows no other means of survival. If his actions and responses could be voiced, they would say, "I’;m less than you, not worthy, and flawed. So I do not want you to see fit. This is what I’;m used to. "

But, without he has begun recovery or therapy, he is ironically unlikely to be in touch with this voice or even understand why he submits himself to such using conditions. Aside from the fact that he has been so cultured, he subconsciously views these people as present-time representatives of past-time parents who were never satisfied with what he did. The more, in fact, that he submits to such behavior, the less worthy he feet, only supporting his misbelief.

Similar workplace accidents unknowingly regress him to his childhood when he was powerless and his parents were perceived as flawless and incapable of error, creating the fundamental misbelief that any mistreatment of him was due to his own shortcomings and not their own.

To compensate for this dysfunctional and most likely abusive upbringing, he adopted correctly scripted roles, which he may subconsciously continue to act out in his employment venue, as the only believed methods of survival.

The first of these is "hero," which origin and purpose are possibly the most difficult to decipher, since he becomes the "perfect person," performing according to the manual-prescribed regulations. Indeed, he may represent the standard by which others can only aspire. He is independent, needs no one, is often the one others consult relating procedures, overachieves, and is flawlessly reliable and responsible, so masking the inferior and insecure feelings that motivate him.

Since the current to his emotions is little more than a trickle, he turns on the juice to the productive side of him as if it were a firing fire hose, unsuccessfully trying to replace one with the other.

Skating on thin ice, he attempts to do everything in a perfect way until his pursuits become the equivalent of his self-worth. But any error may shatter this fleeting feeling. This work immersion, furthermore, may be the totality of his life. While others may perform within company specified parameters to earn their paychecks, for example, they most likely also have families and other activities to whom and to which which they return in the evening. The hero may not.

Riddled with childhood-originating resentment, the "scapegoat" -the second role-was created by the person who was continuously forced to accept the blame and burden his parents or even other siblings would not, thus persuading him to take responsibility for the errors or infractions of others now. So acclimated is he to carrying the weight of them, in fact, that he may subconsciously create the circumstantial catalysts which imposes the burdens on him, enabling him to act out his countless similar childhood episodes and then lament about their unfairness and injustice.

While the scapegoat passively plagues his childhood reenactments, the "lost child" -the third role-silently slinks from them, as he had during his development years, now barely present. Perceived as an unnamed, personality-devoid silhouette – which form, at times, may seem little more than the shadow it reflects on the wall and just as dimensionless – his identity may be reduced to little more than, "What’;s his name? " Sadly, he is recognized by his lack or recognition. His nonexistent presence often reflects how he feels about himself inside.

"Laugh, clown, laugh" can be used to describe the fourth role, the "comedian" or "clown," but, in both cases, that laugh is most likely the veil that camouflages the person’;s inner sadness. Tapping into his spontaneous ability to find humor in most situations and entertain his coworkers, the child-turned-adult comedian turns lemons into lemonade for others, transforming personal inner unhappiness into external joy for them, enabling him, in the process, to attain a perceived level of safety by weaving a web of acceptance around him.

These four roles, all adopted as defense mechanisms against childhood danger, evolve into a lifetime of survival experiences aimed at self-protection, since the person once again subconsciously views the world as an extension of the one established in his home-or-origin, forcing him to pave a path with the strategies that proved safe for him.

Therein lies the reasons behind an abuse survivor’;s behavior in adulthood and the worries he brings to the workplace-his supposedly programmed, but unchallenged belief that the adult world is a transplant of his childhood one, leaving him fearful and hypervigilant of parent-resembling and – retriggering authority figures.

His or her writings, his or her writings, his or her sense of humor, socializing at lunch, and holding the same or similar-level titles as his coworkers, he continuously presents as if he is not part of them, as if he were on the outside looking in, because physical presence does not necessarily ameliorate or replace emotional absence and isolation. A person can, in fact, be in a room with a dozen or more others and still feel alone, since his distrust of them renders it difficult to connect with them on a social and hence soul level.

Indeed, sensing a person’;s distance and emotional disconnection, others may exclude him from after-work or weekend social engagements, as if he silently conveys his lack of desire to join them, but this can ironically leave him hurt and further solidify his misbelief that he is not worthy of their friendship.

Accumulated, but unresolved childhood infractions, abuses, and traumas can retrigger and rekindle at employment venues, as people and incidents replay in the person’;s mind, progressively "removing" him from the present and immersing him in his past, his mirror neuron-stored tapes trying to convince him that the environment and those in it are not safe and somehow detrimental to him. So powerful can these negative emotions and fears become, in fact, that they may extremely control him until he either releases them by means of spontaneous anger outbursts or resigns.

This, in essence, is an expression of the classic adult-child dichotomy, as the former needs to be part of the world, functioning as a mature person, working, and earning money, while the latter, mired in the internally fleeing inner child , seeks safety without concern for the monetary means to support him. Both are motivated by the need to survive, but on different levels and from age divergent perspectives.

Because of constantly replaying traumas in an abusive survivor’;s head, he can neither ask for help nor defend his actions, and is often subconsciously reduced to the powerless and overwhelmed child that spawned his initial debilitation. Nothing is more terrorizing than a personal confrontation with another, since it transports him back to the countless-and, most likely, harmful-ones he already endured. During that powerlessness, furthermore, he was never perceived as having been on the correct or tripping side.

Paradoxically, when such a person is appointed to positions of control and superiority as an adult, it provides a degree of safety for him, since it elevates him to the superior or winning role once represented by his abuser. Instead of being belittled and overpowered as a child, he now feels that he can exert these effects on others, and then feels stronger and safer. In fact, this type of person, to greater or less degree, can be categorized as the often-labeled "control freak," because he grew up in a chaotic environment where lack of control led to his detriment and he now strives to regain it with such a role at his job. In essence, he employs the same misdirected method his abusive parents did at his place of employment.

Conversely, when he does not assume such a role, and is there psychologically regressed to the inner child stage, he is reduced to taking whatever comes his way, whether it be additional functions, responsibilities, or duties that are not necessarily paired with increased compensation , because he feels too unworthy to refuse them.

Ironically, they may signify an intangible "benefit," which most likely only exists for him-namely, proportionately assuming more of a workload transforms him into someone who is liked, who is viewed as an ally, increasing his degree of safety. This conclusion is more logical than it may first appear to be, since abused children believe that they are seen more as enemies than "friends" to their parents-that is, those who somehow get in the way, are burdensome, and not necessarily wanted .

Propelled by such unaccepting primary caregivers down a path towards perfection in his tasks-all in an attempt to compensate for his "imperfections" and elusively gain that seldom provided love – he may translate this dynamic to the workplace, completing jobs, functions, and reports in a precaise and comprehensive manner, and then expecting, but failing to note, similar performance in his coworkers. Ultimatum adopting the same intolerance for their shortcomings as his parents did for his, he only re-sparks the cycle in his own life, if he has not already done so with his own children at home.

This situation may evolve until it creates the workaholic, or the person who replaces his self-worth with achievement- and monetary-worth. As an abyss devoid of positive emotions, he finds it difficult to extract joy from friendships and relationships, and his immersion into work enables him to avoid examining his unexpressed hurts.

His work environment may be more of an extension of his home environment than imagined, as the job hopper, continuously seeking new employment opportunities for the ostensible reason of landing "that perfect job," may subconsciously be in search of "that perfect home" – or the one he never had, provided that he could trust the "family member" workers staying in it.

Conversely, those who are directed by low senses of self-esteem possess no direction at all, performing menial tasks. Underpaid and ill-rewarded, they do not feel that they are capable or worthy of doing better in life and may still remain with the same company and at the same level for years, never understanding inter-worker competition, challenges, and fulfillment.

Despite the fact that abuse survivors subconsciously transfer their home environments to the workplace, and some appear outwardly competent and become overachievers, they all negotiate life with internal "secrets" -amely, that they distrust, fear, and have misbeliefs about their abilities and self -worths, and dread the day that their tactical-created facades will drop and they will be exposed for what they are.