As I coach more people I continue to be struck by how similar we all are. For much of my life I kept my pain to myself thinking there was something wrong with me for feeling the way I did. Turns out, it's not just me, it's an epidemic. It presents differently on the outside in each person, but underneath it’s all the same stuff. We all struggle with similar fears and ultimately want the same things for our life.
Knowing this has changed how I interact with people. I know that at some point in their life (and maybe even at that moment) they have experienced something painful. It's an unspoken point of connection and empathy that allows me to be more open to the moment and letting them into my energyfield. I'm more open to seeing them and allowing them to see me.
If you feel up to it and the situation is right, you can give them a glimpse (and who knows, you just might really connect), but you don't have to share with them your pain or anything about your particular form of suffering. Just knowing they suffer too and you both, deep down, just want to be happy and enjoy the short time here on earth can be very comforting. It can help to ease the invisible protective barrier we tend to throw up.
How can we apply this to the workplace? As it is now, vulnerability in the workplace is definitely tricky. So, I'm not saying you should open up to your boss or co-workers (unless you know them well and have a good read of the situation). But, sometimes seeing them in this new light can help to create some space and ease in your work relationships.
For example, everyone does things for a reason and often the motivations have to do with coping with or escaping pain. So, when your boss responds to you in a way that feels demanding or unfair remember all that he/she might be dealing with and the possible underlying reasons behind the behavior. Most of the time what you experience of others, doesn't really have to do with you. It's not personal. It's coming from their own stuff. Their own stuff that you may not know about, but can understand because you have your stuff too.
I'm not saying you should put up with abuse or unprofessional behavior in the workplace. That's not ok. But, when faced with something someone has said or done at work that’s upsetting or stressing you, remembering this first can create some space and diffuse some of the heightened emotions you might be feeling in the situation. Then you can choose to respond however you see fit, but it will be from a place of greater clarity.