Its probably one of the most challenging aspects of working life and can have the most profound impact on your self confidence and your ability to do your job to your best ability – never a combination that any of us want to have to endure for too long. Often the scars of working for a toxic person can stay with us long after we have stopped working for that boss and it will take time, and most importantly, self awareness to find your path again.
But how do you know if you are in a toxic working relationship with your boss in the first place.
Do you lie awake at night wondering if your boss is angry with you?
Do you feel like you are walking on egg shells with them on a regular basis, despite never being yelled at?
Do you feel like no matter how hard you work, delivering key projects on time and to your bosses expectations, you just don’t seem to get the same career opportunities as other colleagues?
Has all trust gone?
In fact there are hundreds of potential triggers that you may be experiencing, and all or some of them are having a profound affect on your mental health.
But hey! Its ok because in the first instance you have recognized that you are in a toxic situation, and you need to break away. Its hard because you may love your job, love the company and feel like you are making a difference, but staying there will eventually take its toll on your mental wellbeing.
But how do you start a new role and not take the feelings with you? How do you build yourself back up again so that you thrive and enjoy working life again.
- Try to understand what kind of triggers caused you to feel distressed. Was it lack of support, your bosses tone or demeaning language with you, unrealistic expectations, or something else that triggered the toxicity and emotional distress. List them all out and then identify the top ten that caused you the most discomfort. Being able to approach a new position with an open mind and open heart requires our capacity to trust again, as well as giving you the ability to recognize a similar pattern elsewhere and avoid a similar situation in the future.
- Breathing techniques are wonderful in helping to diffuse any emotions that you find are resurfacing. Even just smelling a fragrant flower, freshly mowed grass or bread baking in the oven are tangible positive sensory triggers that can help to suppress any anxious feelings.
- Use affirmations, or as I like to call them, ‘I Can tations’ to reinforce your self beliefs and eradicate limiting beliefs. Keep some of your favorite and most powerful phrases nearby so you can refer to them at a moments notice.
- Create emotional closure and write a letter to your boss, that you will never send. A safe and invigorating way to release all your feelings and the expressive words you wanted to say, but were afraid too. A wholeheartedly empowering way to cleanse your head and heart of negative thoughts.
- Keep some peppermints in your bag or pocket. Recognise when you are experiencing flashbacks as a result of the emotional trauma you have been through and interrupt the pattern by sucking on a mint. By creating a sensory distraction you allow yourself to regain focus in the moment you are in.
- Recognize that toxic people are, on some level, deeply wounded and hurt individuals and be thankful that you are more self-aware, thoughtful and considerate. Their toxic conduct masks some very deep routed insecurities or previous trauma. They haven’t recognized their behaviors or possibly haven’t taken that leap to address their negative practices.
- Remind yourself of positive experiences you have had with bosses in the past. What made that relationship work so well, and recognize those traits again.
- Speak to friends and colleagues you trust. Many people have been through the same situation and in talking it out, helps to normalize the situation. You are not alone.
- Stand in your own power. Accept the fact that someone else’s bad behavior doesn’t tells us anything about our own values or abilities. If you had healthy confidence before that toxic person came into your life, then focus on the things that made you confident in the first place. Journaling is a very cathartic process of capturing all the wonderful things about yourself, that frankly got you hired in the first place. That toxic person saw those qualities in you, they are still there inside you. Bring them to the surface again and bask in the glory of rediscovery.
- Engage in leisure activities or community involvement. Staying connected to others outside of the work environment helps to enrich your purpose and create more meaningful moments. Give back to the community by doing something for charity and fulfilling yourself by making the world a better place for others
- Get out into nature. Walk on the beach in bare feet and feel the sand between your toes, or take a bike ride in the forest. Feel the sun on your face. Whatever it is that fills your heart then do it, but do it outside. Dont stay inside.
- Finally stay true to your core values. Know your self worth and what you bring to the workplace. Your strengths, your talents, your skills, your work ethic and your contribution. If you feel that because of the toxic situation that you were in has taken the edge of some of your skillset, then identify some personal development in these areas or get yourself a Coach or Mentor to support you.