Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Cornerstone of Recovery from Workplace Bullying: Power and Control


Power and control is the cornerstone - both in the bullying episode and in the journey towards recovery.

Bullying is all about power and control.  In fact, it's been described as a form of workplace violence because it is about power and control.

Ironically, power and control is what both parties in the conflict want.  The target wants power and control over her own life, etc.  The bullies want power and control over other people specifically the target but also the workplace if possible.

I haven't written a blog posting on that part of it yet; however, I've touched on it a few times. At this point, it's way too personal and I've still got so many aspects of that part of the issue to sort out as I progress on the road to recovery ... to wholeness.

By the time I'd left the workplace, I was thoroughly cowed.  Nothing I tried worked.  Every time I followed the "correct course of action" as defined by research, therapy, etc., it turned out wrong.  The bullies turned it against me and others - HR, management, the union, the other employees - all blindly followed suit. (Note to self: perhaps write a future blog post on the necessity of all parties being on the "same" page.)

I felt powerless, faceless, voiceless.

Which is exactly where the bullies wanted me to be.

However, I'm out of there now.  I don't have to continue to be cowed by them - or by anyone else.

All victims need to find a way to regain the power that was seized from them and to find a way to express the voice that was silenced.

Therefore, a large part of my recovery process is regaining power and control over my present:  where I am now.  And that is especially evident in the recovery process.

I need to figure things out for myself - in my own time and in my own way.  My recovery works best when I am allowed to take control over it.  Those who have been faithfully supporting me have realized this.  That the best way they can help me is to support and encourage me - and give me the grace to figure things out for myself.

One of my encouragers long ago gave me the priceless "gift" of allowing me to be in control of the process.  It happened gradually when I day I was visiting her and asked her to simply read passages from the Bible to me.  Any would do.  I had no preference.  At that time, I couldn't read for myself, but I could hear - and hope that something sunk in.  I knew this person was perfect for this as she loves God, loves to read the Bible, and loves to share these things.  That was the beginning of what has become a profound relationship for (hopefully) both of us.  She started coming over every couple of weeks for a Bible "study" but she always let me have control of it.  If I wanted to talk, we talked. We walked together.  We prayed together.  We sang together.  We read pieces of her devotional together.  Whatever.  She let me call the shots.  And it worked.

The reason "traditional" therapy has worked so well for me is that my therapist has allowed me to take power and control over my healing.  She has listened to me.  Supported me.  Encouraged me.  Offered me insight when needed.  But she has never once told me that I have to do this or that.  She may have suggested a few things - especially as healing and our relationship progressed but she has never demanded anything.  She has always been gentle with me.  She has never once condemned me for what I've done or am doing or am thinking.

She has allowed me to take control of my recovery process.

The more I can do that, rely on my innate instincts and see them work, the more I am empowered for the next obstacle on the journey.

Years ago, when I was nearing the end of workplace bullying experience number 1, I tried something called Celebrate Recovery.  It turned out to be a disaster for me.

Why?

There was a rule, that if followed would have allowed me to continue, that when one member shared the others were to listen and not offer advice.  Unfortunately, the co-facilitator disregarded that rule in my instance.  What she said made sense to her.  It had worked for her.  But in my situation, it was not going to work.  Her advice was useless.  Worse.  It made me feel disrespected, devalued.  I no longer felt safe in the group and never returned.

Years later, I figured out why that rule was in place and should have been respected:  it empowers the person in recovery to have the power and control over their own situation.  You've probably heard the saying:  "if it's free, it's advice; if you pay for it, it's counselling; if either works, it's a miracle"?

That, in a nutshell, is the point I'm trying to make here.  In order for recovery, real recovery, to happen, it needs to come from inside.

Those well-intentioned people I've mentioned in earlier posts who listened for a short period of time and then pronounced their decision i.e. "let go" or "move on", and then walked away, did both of us a disservice.  It wasn't that letting go or moving on was not needed at some point in the recovery process.  It was that I wasn't ready for that ... at that time.  There were more important things for me to work on in the earliest stages of recovery:  re-connecting my relationship with God, re-learning how to pray; discovering what was wrong with my existing relationships - especially my family - and learning to value them; learning how to communicate effectively with my family.  So many things.  I can't remember all of them.  But each one, came from some part inside of me.  Each one has lasted all this time.  Because it came from inside me.

*******

This post has been a difficult one to write and has taken two days.  Which explains why there was no blog post yesterday.

If you're walking with someone who has been desperately hurt by bullying of any kind - work, school, in the neighbourhood, etc. - I urge you to gently help the person rediscover themselves and give them power and control over their recovery.

Each person works things out in their own way depending on their strengths, weaknesses, talents, personality type, etc.  No two people are the same.  Therefore, no one path is going to work for everyone.  There are similarities on the journey, Yes.  But there are also differences.

Recovery from trauma, PTSD, bullying is not - and never has been - a "one size fits all".

Until tomorrow....



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