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Freedom in the Workplace: Is Hidden Guilt Limiting Your Confidence and Happiness?

First few Article Sentences

Suzanne, a highly respected and accomplished Chief HR Officer in a large prestigious hospital, carried a deep secret that had burdened her for years. She had earned her way up to this C-level position through hard work and fervent dedication, gaining vast experience as HR director in several hospitals prior to the Chief HR position. But Suzanne was haunted by the fact that she hadn’t completed her bachelor’s degree. Although she had told her bosses the truth and was promoted and hired anyway, the employees naturally assumed she was a college graduate. So, whenever the common subject of education or related issues were in the discussion, a sinking sense of dread and unworthiness came over her. Due to her hidden feelings of guilt, she compensated by being the first one to arrive at work, the last one to leave, the one to dutifully volunteer, and was always overprepared for every project. She rarely took a lunch break and simply ate while working at her desk. She unconsciously believed that if she worked so diligently, she would prove she was invaluable, somehow making up for her lack of a certificate. She ultimately sacrificed much of her personal life to avoid being exposed. Despite her excellent work she always felt like an imposter.

Suzanne is not alone in feelings of inadequacy. Millions of people have self-deprecating thoughts that they hide. Self-imposed guilt fuels doubts and insecurities in everyone to some degree. Wanting to appear confident, capable and powerful, people in the workplace feel they must keep their insecurities hidden. Fear of not having all the right answers is often seen as a weakness that must be concealed. Therefore, it takes great introspection and courage to look at the very weaknesses and insecurities that are blocking authentic power. The truly great leaders who operate from integrity, humility, compassion and vision have done the powerful work of facing their own fears. Creating an environment of freedom in the workplace starts with self-realized leaders that allow and encourage autonomy. However, it is ultimately up to each one of us to unlock the key to our own personal freedom and deep inner strength.

Beal, M.Ed., Danna


Danna Beal, M.Ed.

Workplace Environment

March 10, 2020

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