Have you ever had a workplace so toxic, that you have to process everything that happens with your coworkers, excoriating the wrong-doers until you feel better?
Think about your old or current workplace.
How your emotions have gone from soaring hope to plunging despair in an instant.
How your sunny first beliefs about this job crumbled away in the harsh reality, as people showed their true faces and negativity.
How you hoped your desire for mentorship and continuing education would be honored, and it wasn’t.
How it was harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.
The day you realized that you could have no loyalty to people in your office who betrayed you, who yelled at you, or socially ostracized you in other ways.
How you kept asking yourself, why why am I going to this job that I hate?
Why can’t I find a new job that’s better?
Or even, “Why am I looking for a new job at all? All jobs are the same!”
Think about how that workplace has affected you, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. With the prospect of leaving it all behind, do you feel liberated and joyful, or has the negative energy of your workplace rubbed off on you, leaving you feeling exhausted and deflated? If it has, here’s how you can start to recover your balance.
Start to address these things one by one.
Feelings: “I just want to cry” “I just want to scream.” “I just want to hide somewhere.”
When you address your feelings, start to look at this book. The Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden.
This book has 5-10 minute tools you can use to start to reclaim your space, your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Everything from bubble baths to mini-rituals to make yourself feel good again. Highly recommended.
Beliefs/Values: “I don’t believe that there are any good bosses.” “I’m such a lazy, dumb worker, I deserved all of the abuse that boss gave me.”
First of all, No you didn’t deserve any of that. Everyone deserves respect at work. When you start to address your beliefs, read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Louise Hay’s book will help you if you have any beliefs that are holding you back, and help you step into a healthier world. Don Miguel Ruiz says that “Nothing is personal, neither praise nor blame.” This means that when your boss called you names, that was not about you. That was about your boss. Also, when people praised you, it was about them, not about you. So don’t take anything personally, and you’ll have more equilibrium in work situations. Ruiz says, “Always do your best.” “Be Impeccable with your word” and “Don’t make assumptions.” So remember that last one when you think there are no good bosses. There have GOT to be. Statistically. But don’t assume anyone is a bad boss until you’ve worked with them. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Ideas: “There are too many people competing for shitty jobs! Bosses can treat people like crap and they can’t do anything but hang onto the job because they’re too scared they won’t find another one!”
When you start to address your ideas, read Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore and Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta. Dan Pallotta talks about nonprofit dysfunctions, and can help you address what may be holding your old organization back, and the sector as a whole. It can be very healing to name and claim what’s been going on, what’s making your nonprofit so dysfunctional, and the people in it so dysfunctional. So even if you can’t take back the months or years you spent there, knowing it was a systemic problem instead of just you can be comforting.
Work ethic: “Why should I work hard for anyone after this terrible experience? Won’t everyone just take advantage of my good nature? Is it even worth it to look for a job in this field?”
When you start to address your work ethic, read “How to Be, Do, or Have Anything You Want” by Laurence Boldt, or “How to Make a Living Without a Job” by Barbara Winter. You can start to realize that there are a lot of things that you can do, that you don’t HAVE to have a job, as long as you are willing to work hard, and possibly deny yourself status symbols that other people seem to prize, like brand new BMWs, or a 3 story 4 bedroom house. These books will help you realize what you want and what you NEED are two very different things, and if you WANT to work for yourself, you don’t NEED to have all of these status symbols, because doing what you love all day satisfies your craving to be happy more than THINGS ever could.
Here’s another way you can recover, aside from reading the books above. Journal every morning, for 3 pages. However long that takes you. Just wake up and journal. It can be about anything. There are no rules except that you fill up 3 pages, longhand. No checking email, voicemail, texts. Just journal right there in bed.
If you need prompts to journal, think about these questions.
* Where am I at right now, physically? Emotionally?
* What’s my outlook, my assumption as I respond to daily events? Am I assuming the best? The worst?
* How clear is my thinking? Am I distracted easily? Can I concentrate on what I used to enjoy?
* What did my sense of purpose used to be? What is it or where is it now?
* What can I do to feel joy every day? Draw a picture? Sing a song in the shower? Walk my dog?
* What one change can I make right now that will help me feel good in this moment?
* What can I do to take care of myself today?
Thanks for reading. You CAN recover from that toxic workplace. And if you need any help, I’m here for you.
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