The Parentified Child at Work

overextendingselfThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Leslie Kolb, MSW.

Earlier this month we discussed ways to modify people-pleasing behavior caused by parentification during childhood. But what about people-pleasing behavior in the workplace? Do you have trouble saying “No” when you are feeling overworked or spread too thin? Do you do extra work just to prove to your employer that you are a worthy employee? Do you ask for less income than you deserve because you feel unworthy of earning that income?

If you are a parentified child, others may experience you as conscientious, helpful, and sensitive to others’ needs. Those attributes are very attractive to employers. But remember, being a people pleaser does not just apply to your personal life. In your professional life, trying to keep everyone happy at your own expense can reduce your productivity, breed resentment, and decrease your overall happiness with your position. On the other hand, if you can learn to balance your people-pleasing behaviors through setting boundaries and caring for yourself before others, you can use your skills to your professional advantage.

For example, if you are feeling overextended by helping others out, you can begin to pay attention to the “extra” work you’re doing and find ways to eliminate it from your workload. If you find yourself helping a coworker on a project that is not your responsibility, ask yourself, “Is helping out on this benefitting me?” If the only benefit is that it is helping your coworker, then you can reduce the time you spend on that particular responsibility and give yourself more time to focus on your own duties. Sometimes at first it can be difficult to keep from feeling like we are being selfish to say no or reduce the help we offer others. Ultimately, however, the quality of work you do will improve the more you are able to focus on your own tasks and reduce. In turn, you will find yourself being a better employee.

What if you are feeling overworked by your employer? This can be tricky to navigate, but consider this: employers almost always want their employees to be satisfied and happy so that they do their best work. Most likely you were hired for a reason, and your employer values you. If you are feeling overworked or overwhelmed, try identifying your needs and discussing them with your employer. By expressing your needs, chances are, your employer will try to help you find ways to manage them. If you can communicate openly and regularly with your employer, you might find that your job becomes less overwhelming and therefore more sustainable over the long term.

We all want to do a good job, especially soon after being hired, but what is the motivation behind our desire to do well? Just as you must ask yourself in your personal life, you must ask yourself in your professional life, “What is my intention with this behavior?” If you can identify the true intention behind your behavior, you can begin to alter it to better care for yourself in any situation, including work. In doing so, you might surprise yourself with how much you can thrive within your professional environment.

Elana Clark-Faler
1 Comment
  • Ashley M. Gomez
    Posted at 14:27h, 29 April Reply

    Absolutely love this. Not enough people speak about this! Thank you.

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