Maria, a single mother in a management function, contacts us regarding a conflict with her direct boss. When her daughter is ill, she is not allowed to go pick her up, and this is creating a lot of tension.
In our first contact with Maria, we notice a lot of ‘impossibles’. She cannot leave, her boss will not let her, she does not have a choice. This sense of not being in control, External Locus of Control, is what makes the problem so heavy on her.
When we ask her what would happen if she did just leave, she tells us that is just not possible. So, that means the boss locks her door or chains her to her desk, right? Because of course, ‘I cannot leave’ only applies to prisoners. And if your boss keeps you prisoner, it is time to call the guys in blue.
Admitting that she can of course leave the building, we continue to look at the consequences. If she were to leave, her boss would fire her. Although some laws would probably prevent that, for the sake of argument, we continue this train of thoughts. If her boss were to fire her, what then? She tells me she would never find another job and starve. When I just look at her, she starts laughing. Okay okay, not likely. But we agree that her life quality would deteriorate, and it would be difficult to find another job with this high a paycheck so close to home. So losing this job would probably mean having to move out of the house she has now. After the death of her husband, she doesn't want her daughter to have to move.
Now, we are back to having a choice: leaving your sick daughter at school, or moving her to another house. Knowing that she has a choice, Maria decides that those hours in daycare are less important to her daughters future than the stability of their current house and network. When she gets home, she takes the time to explain to her daughter why when she is sick, she cannot come pick her up.
One month later, Maria reports that her daughter fell ill again, and that she decided not to go to pick her up. When she got home, instead of the high tension generated by her feeling of guilt and her daughter’s anger, they were both just a bit sorry about the situation, gave each other a hug and moved on to have a nice stressless evening.