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Dealing with Rage Caused by Workplace Bullying
By Richard Schwindt M.S.W.,R.S.W.
Rage. It means something more than anger. It is an intense emotion that feels overwhelming and out of control. It is difficult if not impossible to hide. It is fed by thoughts of hurt, betrayal and injustice. In bullying situations it can torment you for years. Chinese medicine sees rage burning you up from the inside. Turned inward it can cause sickness, even death. Outwards, it can be turned against loved ones or people unlucky enough to cross your path at the wrong moment.
Richard Schwindt M.S.W., R.S.W. is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist specializing in the emotional recovery of targets of workplace bullying and mobbing. He can utilize Skype and Paypal for Canadian clients. For more information visit www.richardschwindt.ca
Workplace abusers love rage and use it as proof that their underhanded actions were justified in the first place. Rage provides calm sanctimonious bullies with an opportunity to use zero tolerance or anti-bullying policies to label the target the "bully." It is exceedingly rare for targets to become violent, though in those cases the outcome is always portrayed as the mysterious act of an isolated individual who "just snapped." What's common is for targets to fantasize about violent acts; thoughts that are often disturbing in individuals who are normally peaceful and loving.
This is the first of two articles on managing intense emotions that result from the psychological violence inflicted by bullies. I have some suggestions for addressing rage.
1. Acknowledge your rage honestly in a safe place (not at work). It is surprisingly common for targets to justify or rationalize the actions of the bully or mob. Damn it, they are working to destroy you emotionally while you are trying to make an honest living and support yourself and your loved ones. You have good reason to be pissed. You may be getting the message everywhere that something is wrong with your emotions but anger—an emotion meant to address violated boundaries—is congruent and appropriate.
2. Recognize that fantasy is just that—fantasy—common stuff. Having a fantasy does not mean you will act on it. Media reports to the contrary, it is quite rare for someone who has not previously been violent to become violent.
3. Sit down and acknowledge to yourself that acts of rage feed into the bully's agenda and injure you further. This is a simple truth that will guide you.
4. Find a trusted person outside of the workplace who you can use as a reality check. In other words keep a source of perspective close by. Let them tell you when your rage is out of line.
5. Explore the thoughts behind the rage, how they become unbalanced. Use a cognitive therapy workbook (eg Mind Over Mood) as a tool to construct balanced thoughts.
6. Direct your thoughts to a written safety plan, taking time to work out the details of how you will escape the influence of the bullies and begin a new life. This document is critical, even if you plan to stay in your job. I often tell my bullied clients "you may decide to stay on a dangerous flight but I will feel better if you have a parachute beside you."
7. Rage is a thing of the mind that profoundly effects the body. Do your physical self care! The four pillars: proper eating, sufficient rest, regular exercise and hydration.
Now is the time move forward and participate in joyful activities; make love to your partner, cook a wonderful dinner, take your kids to the park, watch something funny on tv, sing in church; remind yourself that life is much more than the mess at work. Let the rage teach you then move on without it.
Part Two: Thinking of Suicide? Think Again...
5 Part Series by Richard Schwindt:
Getting Help To Come Back From The Dead
Seven Principles For Recovery
Dealing With Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Thinking Makes It So
Richard Schwindt M.S.W.,R.S.W. is a social worker in private practice in Kingston, Ontario. His website is www.richardschwindt.ca
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