When you were a kid, you were physically smaller, dominated by your parents. They knew more about worldly success, and you needed their approval for crucial essentials like food, shelter, and clothing. It literally wasn't safe to tick off your local authority figures.
But now that you’re an adult, authority figure power inequities are no longer a matter of deep, essential, or physical survival. True, you want your boss's approval for a promotion, bonus, or positive reference - all good reasons to consider your boss's preference.
But they are not reasons to be afraid!
You are no longer physically, or psychologically dependent on authority figures for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Recently, a client admitted that she was afraid to take a new position because her recently hired boss hadn’t solidified his leadership in the company. What if he got fired and wouldn't be able to look out for her?
Limiting belief alert!
I pointed out that, although we would all like to have bosses who provide cover, she seemed to be doing just fine despite a series of bosses without that.
She realized that this ideal authority figure was a want but not a need. Her fears were not a reason not to take this new job.
My limiting belief was that authority figures would not appreciate me unless I constantly buttered them up. Don't get me wrong, expressing gratitude is great. But my constant positivity compulsion came from fear:
Fear of being abandoned if they didn't see me positively
Fear of scarcity that they would stop bestowing me with the mentorship, encouragement, and opportunities
Fear that they would think I wasn't valuable if I didn't make myself emotionally useful to them
But none of those things was actually true! I should feel free to express appreciation and gratitude to my authority figures, but I don't need to be afraid that not doing it will result in disaster.
Common authority figures limiting beliefs include:
Authority figures will only appreciate me if I discard my authentic self and become what they want me to be
Authority figures will not value me as an individual, only for what I produce for the organization
If I approach authority figures for help, I become a burden.
Authority figures will only like and help me if I constantly butter them up and tell them how great they are.
I must placate my authority figures by maintaining a humble and submissive attitude so I don’t pose a threat or appear arrogant.
Do any of those ring a bell? Or maybe you can see you have some others of your own.
If so, they may keep you from interacting in a relaxed, creative, authentic, and productive manner with your local authority figures or make it hard to accept risks that involve them.
I am working with clients (and myself) on changing those beliefs. More tips on that in Part 2, coming up soon!
In the meantime, start exploring your Authority Figure Limiting Beliefs. How do you see they're affecting you?