5 minute read
By Rose Carroll
We need to talk about the workplace narcissist more and the effect bullying has on the lives of those who are targeted. It isn’t OK.
I worked with an employer for 5 years, and the emergence of workplace bullying was subtle at first. A minor gripe here and there, snide comments that I managed to shrug off. But then things changed.
Processes taught to be correct, were now wrong. Goal posts shifted constantly. All my choices and decisions were second-guessed. My emails monitored.
When anything went wrong, all the blame was on me. I was criticised, and put down constantly. I was facing the classic workplace narcissist bully.
It got so bad that mid-2018, I broke down at a dinner with my family, and told them I was too scared to leave because I didn’t think I was good enough to work anywhere else. My confidence and self-belief were shattered.
I felt trapped, and for a long time I couldn’t find a way out. Instead, I found ways to cope, and in doing so, I found my courage to leave. You too can make this happen.
So here are 5 ways to overcome the workplace narcissist bully. These are the coping mechanisms that got me through 5 years of hell.
1. Discover your value
Even when I wasn’t at work, I was consumed by it. I judged my value on my work accomplishments. I couldn’t stop thinking about the relentless criticisms that came my way, and that according to the workplace narcissist, I couldn’t get things right.
It took me making the decision to quit to finally get myself out of this cycle. I knew that I couldn’t jump from one workplace to another carrying all this damage with me, I needed to start healing.
When you are in a workplace that makes you feel like you have no value, you’ve got to find your value elsewhere.
For me this was volunteering for a local not-for-profit. I no longer relied on my job to make me feel valid. I found it in other workplaces that recognised my value and that made all the difference when it came time to leave. I remembered, I am valid. I am valued.
2. Talk about it
About a month before I handed in my resignation letter, I started seeing a counsellor. She was everything I wasn’t because of the impact of the workplace bullying. She was tough, blunt, assertive, confident in herself.
In our first session, I was dubious, how can someone so different from me understand what I am going through? When I explained it, her only response was, “Crap hun, you’ve gotta get the hell outta there!”
Her immediate recognition of how dangerous and wrong the situation was, also validated how I was feeling and that something had to change. Overcoming the workplace narcissist’s gaslighting that it was all me started to loosen its grip at this point.
It felt good to talk to someone who didn’t know me. It was good to talk to someone outside the story and who could give an objective view. It was good to be heard.
Find someone who will listen. They don’t even have to give advice. It could even be your dog. Talk it out. Use your voice.
3. Self-care is key
Sunday nights became the worst night of the week for me. You’ll know what I mean if you’re also experiencing workplace bullying, knowing that the next morning you’re going into a toxic workplace. Paralysing dread takes place.
To de-stress, every Sunday night for about 6 months, I always had a bath. It was my time. I closed the bathroom door and refused to let any of the bad stuff enter that room.
Self-care made me feel like myself again, and less like the worthless human the workplace narcissist had made me feel. By taking time out for self-care I committed to stop overthinking, which halted my anxiety and helped me find clarity.
I know everyone is on the self-care bandwagon right now, but there is a reason for this. Don’t neglect yourself because you feel too busy or you feel selfish. If you don’t take some time for yourself, you’ll burn out and work will be 100% harder.
Give yourself the chance to reflect on what you need. Figure out what fills you up with energy and good vibes, and make that thing part of your routine.
4. It’s not you
For a long time, I believed that I was getting yelled at, criticised, and put down due to my own shortcomings. Despite all my hard work and what I was contributing to this company.
I started reminding myself that it wasn’t me. Instead of rushing to action once my boss screamed about something. I took a breath, paused to assess the problem, and looked into why it had occurred. 95% of the time I had no input or role in the situation.
I decided to stop letting their crazy burden me. I decided to stop taking it on. By reminding myself regularly ‘It’s not me’ I started to detach from the bullying which meant my internal reactions were that much easier to cope with.
Handing in my letter of resignation was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. I imagined it in my head many times before doing it. The reality was much less exciting but damn, it felt good.
You can’t expect change in a toxic environment with bullying. The framework is already there to support it and that won’t change anytime soon. You have to quit.
I know it’s scary. But trust me there are amazing workplaces out there that will support you, love you and grow you. Go out and find them.
On average, you will spend 13 years of your life at work, so find a job that makes you happy. It will change your life.
In the meantime, I promise that it’s not you. You are amazing. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
For more Narc Wise articles on the issues raised in Rose’s piece read:
- Invalidation and narcissism: Why they slowly erase you
- Narcissistic Invalidation: How to stop them erasing you
- How the narcissist hooks you: Hoovering & baiting
- What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out
- Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how
- Getting past fear & leaving the narcissist
Hungry for more?
The Sociopath Next Door by Dr, Martha Stout, and Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie both shine the light on the machinations and dangers of the personality disordered bully. Read these to develop more insight, so you can better protect yourself from their abuse.
In line with healing your gorgeous self, any book you pick up by Brene Brown will feel like the sweetest salve to all your sorest bits. Please, please, please read Rising Strong. It’s all about picking up those shattered bits of yourself from the hell you’ve been through, and choosing that free and joyful you that is busting to claim the day. Read it now!