Rising up and reclaiming your confidence after a toxic workplace experience

When the question “how can I inspire confidence and authenticity in my team?” came through as a group entry question, my first feeling was one of dread.

I didn’t think I could answer it.

Because the truth is the last time I was on a team it was the worst experience of my working life. It did not inspire authenticity or confidence in me or any of the other employees. It was a toxic culture of control, quick criticism and surveillance. I spent several months vomiting each day before I went to work.

My husband would regularly say “just leave, you’re the kind of person anyone would employ”. Instead, I chose to spend even longer learning to manage my anxiety in this workplace, all the while telling myself it wasn’t fair to the clients and it would look bad on my resume if I left a workplace so soon. That I just had to learn to manage the toxicity better. Kind of like Stockholm’s syndrome I started to think it was just something I needed to address in myself, rather than recognise it was a toxic system that couldn’t be fixed.

If you’ve studied history you’ll know you can rarely destabilise a dictator from within the organisation, it generally happens via the force of other events or an invading army. And that’s kind of the same with toxic private practices. You won’t be able to fix it from within.

I was surprised at my strong reaction to the question, but it just goes to show the long term impact of a toxic job. I knew I had to handle the reaction. I had to rise up again and not let the past beat me.

I needed to answer this question so I could reclaim my love of a good team. Because I’ve been on a lot of good teams including my student jobs of swimming teaching and bar work. There was really only one bad experience.

I’m so glad I answered the question instead of hiding from it through avoidance. You can listen to it here.

Best of all, some people found it really helpful.

And if you’re out there, vomiting before you go to work or your version of that, know that you need to change your job. The very first thing you need to do to rise up and get your confidence back is to leave that job.

Do it for you. Don’t put client care above your own health. Don’t overly focus on what that looks like on your resume.

Do it soon.

You matter.

These toxic work places are the minority. Do not think this will happen somehwere else. So find somewhere that values and supports you.


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