Stuck in a Job, for Years

Click here to view this episode's transcript.

Trapped in a professional rut but scared to move on? A look back on family dynamics may give powerful clues to why.


The pair in Episode 7 of How’s Work? with Esther Perel doesn’t work together, though their relationship of more than 40 years controls them like a tyrannical boss. On the one hand is a valued employee who craves the professional reinforcement she often receives, but who feels at a standstill and wants out. On the other is her high-achieving younger sister, whose judgements serve to reinforce her feelings of inferiority. To complete the family triangle, there’s a mother with similar criticisms that aggravate how the older sister experiences dynamics at work.

At wit’s end with her sister’s complaining and with her own powerlessness to help, the younger sister has initiated this parlay on Esther’s couch. The session, Stuck in a Job for Years, illuminates the relationship past and potential entrepreneurial future that begin the unjamming.


What to listen for in this episode of How’s Work? with Esther Perel:

  • Being needed at work doesn’t equal working on personal needs, especially when fear of failure and a fragile sense of self worth block the pursuit of other options.
  • In a reversal of power fueled by survivor guilt, the successful individual often feels as helpless as the one they're trying to advise.
  • In what ways do our work relationships mirror those that were modeled in our families of origin?
  • Fear is only bad when it prevents necessary progress: Embrace caution yet move ahead with confidence.  
  • Scared to death of taking risks? Warning: Avoiding them can cause “suicide of the soul.”
  • How to recognize another person’s limits vs the limits we impose on them?

Sharpen Your Relational Intelligence

Sign up for letters from Esther, a monthly newsletter + youtube workshop and conversation.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.