If someone in the time of the biggest stress at work would have told you are living a fairy tale what would you say? That that person was making fun out of you? Or something rather juicer? But, what if that person has a point? What if you actually are a Cinderella in the workplace?

How do you recognize a Cinderella-like behavior?

  • If you are stressed you most likely have a lot to do – several tasks need to be done at once and all are important, aren’t they? So many people depend on you and you need to deliver. 
  • Most probably you have a very demanding boss who never stops with tasks. You either don’t even think about saying “no” or you are afraid to say “no”.
  • It is likely that people who are getting promotions around you work less than you.
  • You compete – with yourself and others. You want to prove yourself. Very very much. And you are willing to work hard for it. Very hard. 
  • You evaluate yourself with very high standards – you are almost never good enough which in turn means, you push yourself harder because things can always be done better, right?
  • Stress is a symbol that you are progressing in your career. You have so many responsibilities and that in your mind equals you are getting somewhere up there and that you are important.

If any of this is true for you – you are Cinderella. Before she got married.

I was on that path once. It felt great for a long time. When it stopped being great it wasn’t fun anymore. It was just stressful. And I could barely tolerate it. After a while it became physical. I had digestion problems, intolerances, short temper, … you name it.

When I discovered I was living a Cinderella story it became easier. I could understand better, what urged me to the state of competing with myself and everybody and what led me to burn out. It wasn’t too much work. Nor was it my difficult boss. It was my thought patterns, beliefs and very strong emotions I didn’t understand. 

One of my beliefs was: “If you are good, modest, and hard-working, you are going to be liked and loved.”

Do you have a similar one? Did you know that almost that precise words are being used at the beginning of Cinderella’s story? 

“Dear child, stay meek and good, and the good Lord will take care of you, and I will look down on you from heaven and will always be close to you,” is a sentence Cinderella’s mother says before she dies. 

There is nothing wrong with being good, modest and hardworking – if you understand what it really means.

Stories that raised generations

Fairy tales were used to raise generations of children. They were stories with help of which society taught children about boundaries, the ways of doing things, about values. This way the meaning of certain words was imprinted into the new generation. Modesty, for example, is seen as a virtue just for women, men with that virtue are seen as weak. 

So what does that mean in real life?

If for you being modest is a virtue, you are always going to put others before yourself.

If for you good means you are pleasing people, you will less likely say “no” and speak up for yourself.

If hardworking means that you are available 24/7 and that you deliver at all costs, you will eventually end up in burn out.

But what if the meaning of these three words would be different?

What if modest in truth means simplicity, unpretentiousness?

You can be modest, yes, but not so much that you don’t have any wishes, that you don’t have any demands, that everything concerning you is allowed. Instead, be simple, be unpretentious.

What if being good would mean that you are good to yourself first? 

You don’t please people all the time, you say “no” when needed and you speak up for yourself. How does that sound?

What if working hard would mean you work-hard on yourself? 

Meaning you take care of yourself, you take rest when needed, eat properly, show yourself unconditional love – when you assess yourself as good and especially when by your standards you are not perfect.

That was the path of Cinderella too. She had to learn to love and appreciate herself. She had to develop her self-worth. And that is what this story speaks about. Maybe that is the reason we love it so much. On an unconscious level we know it teaches us something big.

Let me take you on that same path with the help of symbols of Cinderella and what they mean for your path to healthy self-worth.