Career Coach Reveals The 3 Unexpected Ways Having A Hard Childhood Affects Your Work Life As An Adult

Once you recognize your childhood traumas, you can overcome your career traumas.

woman feels stressed by toxic boss Africa images / Canva Pro

Having a hard childhood impacts your personal, romantic, and social lives as well as your work life. 

Mandy Tang, who goes by @careercoachmandy on TikTok, is an executive career coach and author of the guided journal for career self-discovery, planning, and love called “Should I Quit?” explained how trauma in your childhood can impact your work as an adult.

Tang took to TikTok to explain the three ways a challenging childhood may have contributed to your career wounds:

Many people who suffered in abusive environments as children tend to brush these experiences under the rug in an attempt to move on, but unfortunately, until they go through the process of healing from these traumas, they will continue to repeat the same unhealthy patterns they developed as children.


On top of that, when you add career wounds to the mix, they are essentially dismissing various traumatic events that will make it difficult for them to move forward and evolve. 

According to Tang, a career wound is caused by a toxic or traumatic event that you may have experienced at work, such as having a bad boss, getting bullied by colleagues, or getting laid off. 



RELATED: The Tiny Way To Know If Your Childhood Trauma Is Affecting You Now


Without dealing with these career wounds and allowing yourself to process and release them fully, you will only bring them to every job you transition into.

“When you are trying to heal from a career wound, it’s very important to identify and name the patterns that you are repeating consciously and unconsciously in your life,” Tang shared. 

1. You learned how to deal with chaotic situations

If you grew up with a narcissistic parent, you were likely forced to constantly cater to their needs and adapt to this chaotic environment. 

By “being the person who could get things done” and being the only one your family could rely on, you grew up believing that your worth was defined by how hard you worked. 




This thinking then bled into your adult life and career, trapping you into repeating similar patterns, such as overworking yourself, sacrificing your sanity for the benefit of your team, and internalizing the career wounds you experience. 

“You became that person as a reaction, as a coping mechanism, to the environment with which you grew up,” Tang explained. 

2. Your childhood made you susceptible to seeking toxic environments

In the same way that growing up with a toxic parent may have predisposed you to settle with a toxic partner later on, this flawed parent-child relationship likely predisposed you to a toxic work environment as well. 


It’s important to recognize that this does not mean you are responsible for your trauma wounds; rather, your distorted mental wiring led you to adapt to these toxic environments because you knew how to handle them.

“We find comfort in the chaos that we grew up with,” Tang expressed.



RELATED: Job Coach Explains That 'Career Wounds' Operate Exactly Like Trauma & We Need To Treat Them Accordingly


Additionally, while being adaptable to difficult situations is a solid quality to have, being adaptable to toxic situations specifically traps you into traumatic cycles and further damages your mental health. So, it’s essential to know how to differentiate the two. 

There’s a fine line between healthy challenges that propel our personal development and harmful challenges that inhibit our growth. 

3. You equate perfection with value

Tang explained how reliving the similar forms of abuse you experienced as a child in your work life can cause you to feel as though you are regressing to that vulnerable, misguided state.

“You are used to being somebody’s crutch in a certain way,” she added. “And that comes out as people pleasing, that comes out as overly scrutinizing, overly stressing about something.”




Because your parents punished and reprimanded you for making mistakes as a child, you learned that you needed to somehow be perfect to be valued. 

And now, your mind has become wired to replicate this same hypervigilant behavior in your work life, especially when dealing with a similarly abusive work environment.

“If we were raised in abuse, we were groomed as children to accept abuse,” one person mentioned in the comments.


By becoming aware of the harmful patterns in your work life, you can rewire your mind to build a life based on balance and respect.

You are likely an incredibly hard-working person, yet you might fail to recognize this for yourself because of your trauma and career wounds.

As Tang expounded in her video, in order to heal and move on from these wounds, you must be able to identify what patterns are showing up in your work life, such as burnout, imposter syndrome, people pleasing, and not being paid what you’re worth, to name a few.



Once you fully acknowledge and understand these unconscious patterns, they’ll no longer have power over you. 


As Tang said herself, “Healing your career wounds takes work and dedicated effort.” With time, you’ll begin to find clarity and prioritize your needs.

Not everyone has the freedom to leave a situation contributing to their traumas, especially when it involves their career, but know that you deserve better. You can live a life focused on improving your confidence and well-being at work and within yourself.

RELATED: Psychologist Reveals The 7 Common Mistakes Parents Make That Often Cause Childhood Trauma

Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human interest, adventure, and spirituality topics.