Q. Assuming that were true, why would that be so bad?
A. Because the shield is a lie.
Q. And what does that mean to you?
A. It means that when my coworker excludes me or tries to micromanage me, I feel threatened that he might break down my shield and realize I am not really superior.
Q. And what does that mean to you?
A. It embarrasses me because I realize that all the while I had up my phony front of superiority, I was bringing my coworker’s attack on myself because my coworker didn’t appreciate that I was acting as if I was superior to him either.
Q. What does that mean to you?
A. It means that putting up my shield of superiority to hide my low self esteem has backfired, and I am under attack with no protection because the fact is that under the shield there is just this stupid little, worthless little girl, who nobody cares about, who nobody wants to go to lunch with.
NAME THE CORE BELIEF YOU DISCOVERED: Under my shield, I am a stupid little, worthless little girl, who nobody cares about.
WHAT OTHER SITUATIONS TRIGGER THESE FEELINGS: Other triggers that create the very same reactions in my body are when someone doesn’t believe me, when someone refuses to validate my opinions or ideas, when someone speaks condescendingly to me, when someone treats me disrespectfully, when someone embarrasses me in front of someone else, when someone excludes me, when someone rejects me, when I am criticized, especially when I am reaching out for someone to love me and, instead, they criticize me for being too needy.
WHAT OTHER DEFENSE MECHANISMS CAN YOU IDENTIFY: In addition to responding in anger, I often find myself responding defensively and/or trying to justify my feelings or beliefs, usually in vain, at which time I then explode in anger.
THE CORE NEGATIVE IMPRINT: Through this analysis, I realized that most of my above-stated triggers point to an underlying emotion related to feelings of abandonment, which I would never have guessed because I had a mother and father throughout my childhood. But in light of this exercise I revisited some of my childhood experiences (which I had documented in my memoir), and I realized that I had been abandoned on many levels as a child, I just never thought to call it that. BRANCH IMPRINTS: Branching from the feelings of abandonment are feelings of low self worth, also stemming from the constant verbal assault from my childhood that I am a stupid liar. (See the preface to Syzygy: The Memoir.)
REALITY CHECK (How else might you interpret this situation?): Whether real or imagined, I learned that our bodies respond to what it perceives as a threat. But your coworker might not think you are inferior at all. You are interpreting his behavior according to your past experiences, that is, through the lens of your childhood. Your coworker might have very little control in his own life, so on the rare occasion that your boss is out, he jumps at the chance to be in control. His behavior may reflect his own feelings of inadequacy and/or his desperate need to feel empowered at least temporarily rather than reflect his opinion of you at all. (Of course, this cannot be assumed since you have no way of knowing what he is thinking or what triggers him.)
RESULT: Since the very day I applied the above technique, the relationship between my coworker and I improved dramatically. Of course, it is difficult to determine how much of it is due to the change in my perception or due to my reaction, or lack of reaction, or both. By becoming aware of what I was really responding to, I can now move on to the next technique, which Teal calls “changing a core belief,” which I will demonstrate in my next shadow work installment. ♂ ♀