We all carry some unfinished business from our family of origins when we go to workplaces. Some people are more aware of this than the other. The family dynamics from our past can affect our ability to deal with here and now situations no matter you are aware of it or not. Even when we have been well into our adulthood for many years and thought that we have left the old feelings behind, sometimes a particular person or a situation at workplace can bring all that old feelings back.
For example, a very successful business woman deals with any person she encounters with ease except this defensive older male superior who appeared to be never satisfied. Even though she has dealt with far more difficult people and capable of handling difficult situations, she feels stuck and powerless when she is with this particular person. Only until she fully recognizes that this person reminds her of her father and his impossible-to-please attitude towards her, she is able to interact with this person as who he is, not her father.
Another example would be someone who over-reacted when his contract ended and was not renewed. He thought he had a good relationship with the boss and felt betrayed. He started acting out his feelings of anger and betrayal, and became destructive at work. The more he acted out, the more bridges he burnt. He ended up being jobless and quite depressed. Only until later, he realized that he was not just reacting to the lost of contract, but also to the feeling of being betrayed, which he experienced in his family. Even though he was aware of his resentment toward his parents and try not to repeat the story with another authority figure, i.e. his boss, he was not able to avoid the feelings that were brought out by the circumstance.
These are some of the situations counselling can be helpful. A counsellor can’t make decisions for you, but can help you disentangle from the old story and make a better decision for yourself.