Struggling to be heard at work? Read this!

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Consider the reoccurring challenges you face in your life. The ones you simply can’t seem to shake. Do they follow you from situation to situation, relationship to relationship, workplace to workplace? The particulars may morph, but if you find yourself facing similar roadblocks throughout your life, they may stem from negative beliefs you have about yourself. The good news? They can be changed!

Let’s take an example in your job. Maybe the challenge you keep bumping up against is that you struggle to get others to listen to you. Colleagues always get credit for your ideas; you’re interrupted or unheard in meetings; you seem to get overlooked for high-profile projects. If this is a reoccurring theme for you, one that happens consistently, keeping you up at night, and you’re unable to accept it or take action to fix it, it’s likely that this challenge stems from how you see yourself — from a negative belief about yourself.

In this example, your negative belief about yourself could be something like “I have nothing to say that’s worth listening to.”

Let me pause here for a moment. This example, I know, can seem drastic and unfair. There are lots of workplaces in the world that are cruel, truly ignore employees, and act discriminatory. There are workplaces that promote based on gender, color, race, number of degrees you’ve received, or don’t have any rhyme or reason to their meritocracy at all. It’s justified that, as an employee at one of those companies, you’d be outraged in not feeling listened to. Why, then, should you ever look to your emotions when having any of these bad workplace experiences? In other words, when there are truly bad companies out there, why “blame yourself” when you don’t feel listened to?

The answer is simple. It’s when you’re experiencing the SAME challenges over and over again that you must look inward. When you’re trapped in the same cycle, unable to emerge or accept your situation, it’s likely that your situation is caused by a negative belief about yourself.

If you are in a truly cruel workplace, why do you stay? Do you think you deserve to stay? If you are not truly in a cruel workplace but feel and act like you are, why? The particulars of the workplace are less important than your struggle’s repetition. It’s a mirror of how you feel about yourself.

The question, then, becomes – what do we do from here? If these blockers are mirrors for negative beliefs about ourselves, what do we do about them? In short, we have to start to examine how we came up with these beliefs about ourselves.

Going back to the toxic workplace example, the root cause was that deep down, you think you are not deserving of being listened to, that you are defective in some way. To move forward, you must examine where that came from, understand it, and know the depths and severity of it.

Possible root causes could stem from childhood trauma (not being allowed to speak unless spoken to), subconscious beliefs (I shouldn’t speak because I have an accent) or negative childhood memories (being bullied after a big class speech turning into fear of public speaking that was never resolved), for example.

You can find the root cause of your negative beliefs about yourself in a number of ways:

  1. Utilize a career coach who has been certified by an ICF-accredited institution. She will be your biggest ally in teasing out your patterns and blockers, especially when they affect your work. Seek out coaches who focus on your work through the lens of your overall life (not just on your career in silo). As this post discusses, work and life are so inextricably intertwined. At Haven Coaching, we have a whole-person point of view, assessing blockers from all angles to ensure we understand and address the true root cause.

  2. I also recommend the book Getting Past Your Past. It does focus on PTSD in particular and also on a particular type of treatment, EMDR therapy, but it is a great primer on the idea that things in our past have infiltrated our consciousness (and subconsciousness) and affect our day-to-day.

  3. Finally, I recommend working with a licensed counselor. Have a therapist walk through this with you – which memories, traumas, or beliefs were instilled in you (which might be subconscious at this point) that could be causing some of these negative beliefs about yourself? Regardless of having a diagnosable condition, every person in the world can benefit from working with a therapist! I know that many folks struggle with healthcare costs, which can be prohibitive, but if you have access to good healthcare and the time and ability to utilize it, for goodness’ sake, please do.

Any of the above can help uncover the root causes of your negative beliefs about yourself. Once uncovered, the root cause(s) can be addressed and worked through by the coach and/or counselor.

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