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Friday August 1st 2014

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Recovering from a toxic workplace

By Ann Lewis, author of Recover Your Balance – how to bounce back from bad times at work.

It was one of the worst work experiences you’ve ever had, and now you’re moving on.  No more being stalked by fear and anxiety. No more being dragged down by the persistent negativity of disgruntled colleagues.  No need any more to stay one step ahead of a bullying boss.

Sarah contributed her story to my book, Recover Your Balance – how to bounce back from bad times at work.  Sarah was Chief Operating Officer for a new consultancy, and suffered the appalling outbursts and damaging verbal attacks of a bullying chief executive.  She eventually quit after several months of not being paid. She says ‘Ironically, my confidence grew over the final six-months as I realised how outrageous the CEO’s behavior was and how much value I was delivering to clients.   As soon as I left the company I felt liberated and joyful.’

With the prospect of leaving it all behind, do you feel liberated and joyful like Sarah, 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.

I call this exercise ‘extreme self-care’. Sit in your favorite place, and be sure you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and take a few gentle breaths. Scan your body, notice any tensions and release them.  Open your eyes.

Now take your favorite notebook and pen, and ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I feeling, physically and emotionally?
  • How am I responding to day-to-day events?
  • How clear is my thinking?
  • How linked do I feel to my sense of purpose (my spiritual energy)?

Don’t aim to change anything, just observe and make a note.  The aim is to understand what’s going on for you.

Now ask yourself:

  • What most gives me joy, and how can I bring that into my day and into my new life?
  • What one change can I make right now that will positively improve my energy?
  • What will I do to take care of myself today?

That’s a start. Here are some more ideas from Recover Your Balance:

  • Create a big, bold vision of what you want from your life. Be as creative as you like. Make a collage, draw a picture, write a poem or a letter or a story, or create a plan that suits your style.  Keep it and add to it as you get new ideas.
  • Check out your strengths, identify your core values and remember times when you were resourceful and successful.  Write them down.
  • Take a moment to think about how you can avoid repeating this unpleasant time in your life.
  • Gather all the resources you need to move on purposefully.  Update your resumé. Talk to anyone who can help. Buy that new suit.
  • As you move on with purpose and optimism, do your homework, then trust your intuition, be alert for opportunities and make choices with your deepest values and greatest strengths in mind.

There is life beyond your toxic workplace!

Recovering from a toxic workplace
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