Recovering from workplace bullying

Some of these things are obvious, some are not. Some are easy and some are hard. We hope you’ll find some  supportive tips to help you take a step up the ladder instead of staying still or going down.

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Positive steps to take 

Help yourself - An easy way to think of this is to picture yourself in a deep hole. The bully put you there. People at the top can pass down a rope, but you have to climb it, or at least tie it around your waist. The fact that solving your problems requires your effort is not something to be sad about. It is just something you have to believe. When you believe it, you can start helping yourself. Remember that the one person who should have your best interests at heart is you. Do something, however small, that moves you away from the bullying. A tiny bit every day is a huge step to recovery.

Seek appropriate medical help - If you are feeling low or anxious, make an appointment with your GP so they can help you and make appropriate referrals or treatments.

Help others - If you have not tried this, you will be amazed at how it makes you feel. Whether it is volunteering, or giving a stranger a smile, making positive contributions to others can be fulfilling and uplifting.

Be completely free in the present moment - To be completely free in the present moment, move forward from whatever is keeping you in the past. Move past the bullying and accept what it was, accept that you have experienced a loss, and that you are where you are. Remind yourself that you are free from the bullying.

Forgiveness - This one might not be easy, but to help you move away from negative emotions and resentment is by emotionally forgiving the bully for what they have done to you. Train yourself to use your experiences as a test of your strength and character. Forgiveness is a way to regain control of your own life.

Spend more time with people and activities you like - Workplace bullying teaches you who your friends are. Stick with the people who stuck with you, and with new people you meet along the way, who you like. Don’t worry about the rest. Spend time with your friends and family and build your support network. 

Be creative - Creativity comes in all shapes. Just thinking of these ideas is an example of the practical, problem-solving creativity we need to engage in every day. There’s no “best” way to be creative. The important thing is to decide which style suits you and to put it to work for you. The point is that creativity shows itself in a wide range of activities.

What to avoid

Hate your bully - Hate is a toxic emotion. Hate eats you away inside. Forget what the bullies deserve, and think about what you deserve, about what you need. When someone has tried to destroy your reputation, your income stream, your self-worth, you need positive emotions to build you back up again.

Psychoanalyse your bully - Your bullying experience might have led you to learn about psychopathy, sociopaths, narcissistic personality disorder and so on. However, if you start obsessing about their mental state, you’re using your resources on the bully, and not on yourself.

Seeking retribution - When you are innocently targeted, one advantage you still have over the bully is that you occupy the moral high ground. The moment you resort to revenge and retribution, you give up the moral high ground and get down to their level. If you are willing to do to them what they did to you, how are you – or any independent observer – going to differentiate between your actions and the bully’s actions?

Humiliate your bully - One form of revenge is public humiliation. It’s very easy these days to post on social media, naming and shaming the people you believe are responsible for your predicament. However, if you take this approach then, ultimately, one of the reputations that will get tarnished is yours.

In summary

Bullying is something unreasonable and uninvited, done to us by someone else. We are not to blame for it. When caught out in this way, when we’re hurt and our boundaries have been damaged, it’s natural and reasonable to become defensive and be negative. But if we stay negative for too long, we harm ourselves. In extreme cases this can lead to:

  • Chronic, pervasive, debilitating depression
  • Bitterness, hostility and anger
  • Loss of trust in people and especially authority
  • Lasting damage to family and/or social networks 
  • An unsatisfactory employment situation

By doing our best to avoid extended negativity, and by taking control of our thoughts, we can hope to achieve personal contentment and inner calm, happiness, kindness, trust, courage, and self-reliance. We want a stable family and valuable friendships, and a job that we’re happy to have, and freedom from abuse. We can approach this state if we:

  • Admit to ourselves if we’re ill, and get appropriate medical help
  • Learn to accept our loss
  • Learn to forgive those responsible
  • Do more of what we enjoy with people we like
  • Make our life independent of any quest for justice
  • Live in the present moment and be creative.

This content was developed by The Tim Field Foundation, based on the work of the late Dr Tim Field.

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