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How to let go of the fear of being disliked (at work)

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  • #406933
    Dee
    Participant

    Hi! How do you let go of the fear of being disliked or judged, especially in an environment where being liked and respected is important? To sum this up.. by nature I am a bubbly social and happy female. Despite having some deep childhood wounds which I am aware of, I know I have a lot of people who love and care about me. I’ve just landed my dream job at an agency this year and professionally, I’m performing well. However, the team is very small consisting of mainly girls and as most of them have known each other for years, naturally they’re close outside of the office. They’re not bitchy and at weekly coffee meets they will still be polite BUT I have this horrible feeling (and just that ‘vibe’ you know?) they just don’t like me and I don’t fit in.

    Whenever I say something or try to join in on the chit chat I feel totally invisible and like they’re almost looking the other way. They barely ask me anything personal like how was my weekend or birthday and I feel like no one has put in effort to really get to know me or care. I know this sounds so pathetic and first world problems but it does affect me. As this is a job I really care about and want to stick around in I want to feel connected in a team and know I’m part of a work family. Because of this, I am extremely reserved at work and almost get social anxiety – the complete opposite bubbly, extraverted girl outside of the office. And then I blame myself for being upset that they don’t like me because I’m not showing them who I really am.

    I know this is all triggering my deeper stuff from childhood, of not feeling like I belong or am loved..however how I do let go of all this fear and constant craving of external validation? Especially from co-workers who don’t truly know me? I’ve been trying to not let it get to me but today after work I just sobbed in my car the whole way home. Help haha! Thank you 🙂

    #406959
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dee:

    The team is very small consisting of mainly girls and as most of them have known each other for years, naturally they’re close outside of the office… Whenever I say something or try to join in on the chit chat I feel totally invisible and like they’re almost looking the other way“- looks like they formed a clique: a group of individuals who feel comfortable with each other and exclude outsiders.

    I have this horrible feeling (and just that ‘vibe’ you know?) they just don’t like me and I don’t fit in“- it feels bad to be excluded from a group, and I wish that they didn’t exclude you (or any other co-worker).

    Because of this, I am extremely reserved at work and almost get social anxiety… this is all triggering my deeper stuff from childhood, of not feeling like I belong or am loved“- try to not take the clique mentality personally. Their clique was formed before you arrived to the workplace, that is,  before they knew anything about you, so it is not a reflection of who you are. You said it yourself: “co-workers who don’t truly know me“.

    I am guessing that you would like to be a part of their clique and when a new co-worker joins the workplace, you would invite her into the group so that she does not suffer as you do, or do you have other ideas?

    anita

    #406960
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Dee,

    Despite having some deep childhood wounds which I am aware of, I know I have a lot of people who love and care about me.

    That’s wonderful!

    However, it seems to me that there was a particular person (or more of them?) who didn’t love you and didn’t care enough for you in your childhood? More specifically, they didn’t want to get to know you. I say this because you mentioned several times the pain of your work colleagues not putting an effort to get to know you:

    They barely ask me anything personal like how was my weekend or birthday and I feel like no one has put in effort to really get to know me or care.

    I want to feel connected in a team and know I’m part of a work family.

    And then I blame myself for being upset that they don’t like me because I’m not showing them who I really am.

    How I do let go of all this fear and constant craving of external validation? Especially from co-workers who don’t truly know me?

    My guess is that you are re-experiencing the pain of rejection, or perceived rejection, by a particular person or persons in your childhood. You would like to be liked and accepted by your work colleagues and be a part of a work family. But your colleagues don’t seem to accept you into their family… in your eyes, they don’t even want to get to know you. As a result, you feel rejected and you freeze (I am extremely reserved at work and almost get social anxiety), not being able to act spontaneously and “not showing them who I really am.

    Does this sound plausible to you?

    #406963
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Dee!

    It makes sense that it would be difficult to have the same level of relationship with the group as they do with each other because they have known each other for years. It will take some time to get to know you! All you can really do is put your best foot forward and give it time. I’m sure they’d love to get to know the bubbly, happy social Dee.

    #407029
    Hazel
    Participant

    Hello Dee,

    First of all, I would like to say that feeling this way is NOT pathetic and definitely not just a first world problem! I am from a third world country, and I too felt this way at work, so I relate very much to whatever you have said. You spend most of your day at work, so it’s only natural to want to be surrounded by positive, friendly coworkers. I came here to read the suggestions from others, so I don’t particularly have any advice for you. People have given good advices here, and @anita has pointed out a key aspect here. I do agree that when one becomes habituated to the same group of people for a long time, they wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up instantly to a new-coworker. BUT, if it were me, I would make sure to let a new-comer at work feel invited and would never let them feel totally invisible or left out. So, IMO, your colleagues were in the wrong for making you feel that way.

    I maybe wrong, and I totally don’t want to burden you with negative thoughts, but I think that there’s more to this than meets the eye. The fact that they are making you feel totally invisible whenever you try to say something , is pretty disturbing and feels like a  red flag for me. Making someone feel invisible indicates a lack of respect towards that individual. As I stated earlier, I was in a similar situation as you, it all started off the same way, with them not being outright toxic, but there were many subtle signs of being discriminated against, which I couldn’t pin-point exactly back then. My gut was telling me that something was not right. With time, their bullying became more and more apparent and by the time I realized that my gut instincts were right and that I was being bullied, I was already stripped-off my self-esteem and entered into depression. Ultimately, I had to leave that work environment to maintain my own sanity.

    Again, I’m not telling you that this is exactly the case with your colleagues, but I suggest you to not blame yourself too much and fall into the cycle of self-doubt. Maybe try to keep a clear perspective and keep an eye on their behaviour towards you. If they keep making you feel invisible and left-out, then it’s time to leave that place.

    You also stated that you are a “bubbly social female”. So, I hope that you are being “positively social”, acting within the limits of what is respectable towards others. The reason I’m stating this is because I was on the other side of the coin too, a victim of a “social” new-comer’s harassment. Back then, a new colleague had joined our lunch group and the way she behaved towards me from day1, was pretty rude. She tried to boss me around, maybe because she saw that I was a non-confrontational person and an easy scapegoat, and that made me feel extremely uncomfortable around her. She also started turning my lunch-mates against me one by one. I had to leave that group of people eventually. So, make sure that you are not offending your colleagues when you approach them. Talk to them in a non-authoritative manner. Just make sure that you don’t come-off as too bossy or clingy.

    #407224
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Dee?

    *Dear Hazel: I very much like your reply and would love to read more from you, as a responder and/ or if you’d like- you can start your own thread.

    anita

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