Conquer Conflict At Work/workplace bullying/Recovering From Workplace Bullying: Lessons From My Personal Experience

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Recovering From Workplace Bullying: Lessons From My Personal Experience

Recovering From Workplace Bullying: Lessons From My Personal Experience

Recovering From Workplace Bullying: Lessons From My Personal Experience

Recovering from workplace bullying can be a challenging process, but it is possible and there are steps that targets of bullying can take to begin their recovery and regain their confidence.

Targets expend a lot of emotional and mental energy on trying to make sense of an unfair situation which takes away from recovery and repair efforts, and with good reason:

The Workplace Bullying Institute reports that the targets are 3 x more likely to experience job action such as transfers or job loss than the perpetrator. This adds to the organizational betrayal many targets express, resulting in a loss of trust in self (how did I not see the signs?) and others (why did they not help me?)

In this article, I will share three things that supported me in my recovery that I hope will benefit you. As you read this, remember recovery is a process that takes time and effort, and I believe there is a life long element of recovery as triggers may pop up in unexpected places. But also know recovery is possible. Be patient and kind to yourself as you heal from the effects of workplace bullying.

1. Focus on Self-Care and Healing

I share this one first because it was the hardest element for me. I was so consumed by the unrelenting thoughts in my head that I was not focusing on eating, sleeping, showering, and I have no idea if the clothes I put on were even clean. I knew my son was alive because he was running around the house and I recall feeling like an absent mother and wife.

If I could not take care of me, how could I take care of anyone else?

The day I stopped trying to force my boss and the organization to change and save me was the day I started looking at myself. I remember taking a photo of my sunken in face and sending it to my husband. This is my "SOS day" I shared.

It was a wake up call. I started to force myself to go back to the gym because I knew there would be benefits for my mind and body. It was hard and I did not enjoy it at first, but as weeks turned into months, I was noticing a positive shift.

Start small, but start and do something everyday. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercising, meditation, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.

2. Sleep

"While sleep issues after a traumatic experience can be distressing, they may also be an important opportunity for treating and healing from trauma. Research suggests that getting adequate sleep after a traumatic event can reduce intrusive trauma-related memories and make them less distressing. Managing sleep issues in the early treatment of trauma may reduce the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)". (The Sleep Foundation)

There are many things you can try to improve your sleep such as a sleep routine, calming music or white noise such as a fan, and sleep medications, OTC or prescription.

I struggled with sleep so I ended up talking to my physician about it and did use prescription medication to help me sleep. A restful sleep should not be overlooked here. If you need support, talk to a professional.

3. Seek Support

One of the most important steps is to seek support from trusted individuals as targets often find themselves ruminating over the unfair situation and organizational betrayal they have experienced.

Finding someone you can trust is important to your recovery.

You may support in a friend or family member, a colleague, other targets in a support group or a counsellor, therapist, coach and within your healthcare team of professionals such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. I have personally explored all of these methods of support and I recommend you do as well so you find the right combination for you.

At the time of my recovery journey I did not know about coaching or how it can compliment the healing journey. Now that I am a coach and I have worked with other targets, I want to share briefly some of the benefits.

Safety. I often hear my clients say "it is so nice to talk to someone who just gets it - I don't feel like I have to explain it or justify my feelings".
It can feel lonely out there when family and friends say things like "just get a new job" or "don't overthink it". Having someone how knows what you are going through can give you a space to let your guard down and truly process your experience.

Perspective and Clarity. Workplace bullying often creates a sense of confusion, self-doubt, and loss of confidence, trust and direction. A coach can help you to gain perspective on your situation, helping you to see the dynamics at play and understand your options so you can be empowered by choice. This helps you to regain a sense of purpose and direction.

Developing Coping (Recovery) Strategies: Identify your triggers, and developing effective coping strategies to help you manage stress and anxiety, and develop resilience. I provide tools and techniques for setting boundaries, assertive communication, conflict resolution, and managing emotions.

Working with a coach can provide targets of workplace bullying with a dedicated support system and personalized guidance tailored to their unique needs. By helping individuals heal emotionally, gain clarity, develop coping strategies, build skills, and set goals, coaching can empower them to recover from the impact of workplace bullying and move forward in their personal and professional lives.

In summary, prioritize self care, get better sleep and seek support. Engaging in these activities can help you regain a sense of control and rebuild your confidence after experiencing workplace bullying.

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