Those of us who have survived workplace bullying or mobbing (bullying by a group) know how awful and traumatizing it is. In my experience as a survivor and a coach & trainer, accessing inner tools can be immensely helpful to avoid the worst of the emotional impact and help you move from victim to survivor. I first used these inner tools to help myself, and I began using them to support my clients and students as well.
Why does inner work help with workplace bullying?
As I know from all my work in conflict management and communication, we can’t generally control other people or situations. The only thing we can really control is our attitude. It’s natural and human to feel victimized by people who are making you were target, who are criticizing you or making trouble for you that you in no way deserve. And some people who are bullied at work, were also bullied as children, which intensifies a victim stance as the only choice. But it is possible to change that attitude and make yourself a less attractive target by practicing inner tools.
Here are three inner tools I have found very useful:
1. Affirm your worth
Affirming through positive statements, also called affirmations, that you are a good person, that you are worthy of love and respect, that you don’t deserve this treatment can turn your inner environment around. Simple statements such as I am loved because I deserve love, I am worthy of respect and courtesy, I am valuable to this workplace and I have a right to be here, I am safe and protected at all times really help if you repeat them daily or at the moment of attack. It sounds simple, but the truth is when being bullied you are receiving negative message from others constantly, and may be unconsciously repeating them yourself. By intentionally countering with positive affirmations, you can change your thinking. You may need help and support to come up with the most effective affirmations for you and to practice them consistently.
2. Visualize protection
This can also help you feel safer. For example, I visualized twin Xena Warrior Princesses, one on either side, lounging casually, but with one hand one their swords, protecting me when I had to go into a meeting with hostile people. I’ve helped clients visualize a protective bubble or rose bushes around them that won’t let “slings and arrows” in.
3. Heal past and current trauma
I worked with a client who was a K-12 teacher and was being bullied at her school. She had also grown up with an abusive alcoholic father and had never healed that earlier trauma. With support and gentleness, she had to go back and work lovingly with her inner child before she could find the strength and courage to deal with the bullying in the present. In my own case, I had to do more trauma work after I left the toxic environment, because my healing has happened in stages.
These tools alone may not stop the bullying, but they can protect you and help you find more energy and courage to figure out your next steps. I will share some more tools in my next post.