Why am I so successful at work but suck at personal relationships?
It’s not uncommon that I hear people talk about how great they are doing in their professional life. They got the promotion, and they are killing it financially. But when it comes to their relationships, they are exhausted.
They describe things like, getting into lots of different relationships, but being fearful of committing. Or maybe they are in a long-term relationship but experience crazy pendulum swings. They are crazy “in love” one day and then fighting like cats and dogs the next.
How might this all play out?
Let’s say you grew up in an environment as a child where your parents didn’t have a great relationship, and your dad worked a lot. That likely meant your mom was distracted by the marital conflict and she wasn’t always available to meet your emotional needs. Or she might’ve been overly involved to the point of enmeshment to avoid the pain of lacking intimacy in her marriage. Your dad was too tired when he got home from work that he rarely was available to invest in you and your interests.
What we see is, regardless of the intention, these behaviors send messages to a child.
Through this environment, perhaps you received the message that you weren’t good enough. Because in your child’s mind you’re unable to discern the difference between your parent's behavior and you. That’s a natural response from a child because of the lack of development in the brain.
And because of your child-like ability to reason, you think to yourself (maybe even on a subconscious level) that if you were good enough, then your dad would want to play with you when he got home. Or your mom would be more interested in spending time with you. Whatever way that played out, your child’s heart received this as a reflection of you.
The thing about messages like this, they don’t just stick with us as kids. Often, I hear people say things like “this is just the way that I am.” Not realizing that you weren’t born believing that you weren’t good enough. And maybe you don’t even think about it on a conscious level. But because you received this message from such a young age, it can feel like it’s just the way things are. You might not even remember the exact moment you made an agreement with this lie as truth because you were so young.
As adults, these belief systems play out in everything you do. The lies we believe don’t just affect us at work, but in relationships with others, the way we handle our circumstances and money, how we respond to people and situations, etc.
How this relates to the person who is killing at work and sucking at relationships
Well, we can use work as a means to meet our needs. Maybe it gives you a sense of worth or fulfillment. If that lie “I’m not good enough” is there, work could be the avenue you chose to try and prove to the world (and yourself) that it’s not true. But then you see how present the lie is in your current relationship difficulties. Plus, no matter how high you climb the corporate ladder, if your motivation for work is coming from a deeply rooted lie, nothing you do will ever satisfy or be enough.
Every human being brings their own “junk” into relationships. Many relational conflicts arise because of personal “triggers” each person has.
So you feel a sense of importance at work, but then your significant other doesn’t text you back right away and next thing you know you’re in a huge fight! You might internally see the argument is about something insignificant but can’t stop fighting!
When these lies are present, other peoples actions can feel like a personal reflection of ourselves instead of just a behavior. So the not texting back isn’t seen as an accident, it's viewed as the other person not caring about you.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way!
Allowing yourself the time and space to process through your specific experience and how that has shaped you into the person you are today (by identifying your particular lies and patterns) can give you the opportunity to grow. It’s rather difficult to believe the truth about ourselves when the lies are in the way.
I like to think about it as a garden. You have to uproot the weeds and get rid of all the rocks before you can plant something really beautiful.