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Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Tips and Tools To Keep You On Track

 

Here we are, just a week into the new year. If you’re like many people, your track record on those resolutions may already be spotty. Or perhaps you’ve tossed the whole plan out the window already. Let’s face it: It’s hard to make new habits stick.

Here’s some advice from an experienced therapist and life coach:  Making changes is not about doing the thing perfectly every time. You don’t just hop in a car, point the steering wheel in the general direction of the grocery store, and then expect to get there do you? Of course not. From the moment you pull out of the driveway you’re turning, speeding up, slowing down, taking detours, stopping for gas — you adjust and flex the whole way there.

Likewise, real and lasting change is not about setting your sights on a distant goal and then beaming yourself there in a straight line. Actually doing things involves making mistakes (lots of mistakes, friends)  learning from those mistakes, and then using that new information to course-correct your way to success.

BUT. That’s not to say that it isn’t helpful to have tools and strategies to help you along the way. Just like you use your handy Google Map App to get you from A-Z, there are many useful tricks and life-hacks to make doing what you want to do easier than it would be if you just wandered out without a map.

Particularly if your goals for the new year involve creating a new keystone habit, and making it stick, there’s an easy way and a hard way. Here at Growing Self, we’re all about making growth and success as simple and painless as possible. So, here’s a bonus episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to support you on your journey.

I’ll be discussing:

  • Useful apps and practical strategies to keep you on track
  • Psychological strategies to keep you motivated.
  • The mindsets that will lead you towards success… and the ones that will send you skidding off the rails
    •  

You can do this!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: As promised on the podcast, here are the links to some of the resources I discussed:

  • Finances – https://www.everydollar.com/
  • Weight Loss – https://www.noom.com/ & https://www.weightwatchers.com
  • Fitness – https://lp.dailyburn.com/201701/index.html
  • Time Management: https://fullfocusplanner.com/
  • Original Habit Trackers: https://bit.ly/2VuiN8y & https://bit.ly/2FdFSaG

 

 

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Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Keystone Habits: The Key To Changing Everything

Keystone Habits: The Key To Changing Everything

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

You Are What You DO.

At the turn of the year it’s a fresh start for everyone. New Year’s resolutions are common, but unfortunately, both research and practice show is that resolutions don’t work. They don’t actually lead to real and lasting change. But there is something that will work, without fail, every single time: Dedication to one, powerful, keystone habit.

As a life coach, I’m in the business of supporting people through the change process. I know from experience that it takes much more than a desire to make positive changes happen in your life. It certainly takes more than motivation, which always ebbs and flows. It even takes more than a plan.

Making changes that stick requires understanding the way our brains work, and the way change occurs. This understanding allows you to essentially hack your way to inevitable success. This process may sound complicated, but it’s not: When you find the right healthy habit to cultivate, everything can change.

What Is a Habit?

A habit is a behavior or activity that you routinely do over and over again. So much so, that you begin to do it unconsciously. A powerful habit becomes so ingrained in you that it feels hard-wired — the way you cover your mouth when you cough, put on your right sock first, or answer the phone. You don’t actually think about it at all.

It is also true that the arc, even the outcomes of our entire lives are built on the habits that we engage in every day — most of which are almost entirely subconscious. Think about it: Your life, as it is today, is simply the outcome of everything that you’ve done up until this point. A few macro-decisions have the potential impact our life to a significant degree, like who you marry, the job you take, moving to a new town.

But even then, the actual outcomes you experience in any of these scenarios have much less to do with the circumstances themselves, and more about what your daily “micro-habits” entail. Plenty of people get into Ivy League schools, and don’t have the personal habits required to be successful. So they flunk out. Pretty much any relationship has the potential to be a good one or a bad one, depending on how people are in the habit of treating each other day-to-day. All success or failure is determined by your habitual behaviors.

When you think about the changes that you might want to make in your life, and resolve to “save money” or “lose weight” or “have a better relationship” or “expand your social circle” or “keep my house clean” — all of those are fantastic hopes. But they will remain hopes until you understand and learn how to utilize the habits that are creating your current reality, and swap them out for the ones that will allow you to create the life you want — hour by hour, day by day, and year by year.

What is a Keystone Habit?

A keystone habit is a very special habit. It’s one, powerful habit that “touches” many other aspects of your life. If you find a single, great keystone habit, it can begin working it’s magic on everything from the way you feel, to the way you think, to how much energy you have, to how easy it feels to do other healthy things (and interestingly, harder to engage in the bad habits you might be prone to).

Let’s be real: If you think about ALL the habits you might need to change in order to achieve your goals, it can feel discouraging. It can be overwhelming to sit down and take stock of the all things in your life that aren’t working, and all of the personal habits you’d have to change in order to create the kind of results you want. Even just having one goal of losing ten pounds requires a number of small daily habits to make that happen: tracking food, consciously choosing healthy lower calorie options, saying no to junk and sweets, minding portion size, getting yourself to exercise, being mindful of cravings and impulsivity, and having a plan to deal with special situations like holidays or outings.

It’s probably exhausting just to read that one paragraph! When you tack on other personal goals / resolutions of things you aspire to, like saving money, having a better relationship, being more productive at work, etc, it’s even worse. That’s because when you start breaking down all the small action steps that achievement in those areas would entail, it’s enough to make you want to eat ALL the donuts, isn’t it?

I want you to be successful at creating the change you desire in this new year. So for that reason, today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is all about how to find and lovingly cultivate one solid keystone habit that will carry you forward. I’ll also be discussing how to make that new habit stick, so that this new year turns into a string of successes for you. 

Specifically we’re discussing:

  • How to find your keystone habit
  • How keystone habits work to effect change in many areas of your life
  • Habit loops, and how to make them work for you
  • Habit stacking, and how to cluster winning habits into a life-changing force
  • How long it takes to form a habit
  • How long does it take to break a bad habit? Why it may be easier than you think.
  • Some tips and tricks to help you stay on track with a new habit
  • How to avoid some common pitfalls that could knock your new keystone habit off course

All that, and more, on this episode.

I hope that this info helps you as you craft your path for this new year, and that it brings you only good things.

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Keystone Habits: The Key to Changing Everything

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Radiohead, “Fitter, Happier” &

J.S. Bach, Suite in A Minor for Violin and Strings: Ouverture  performed by TAFELMUSIK BAROQUE ORCHESTRA

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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Letting Go Of a Toxic Relationship

We’re approaching a new year, and as such, you may be thinking about changes you want to make in your life. If you’ve been stuck in a relationship with someone who is not treating you well, and who is causing you hurt, anxiety, pain and frustration, now is a wonderful time to consider leaving your toxic relationship behind… and creating a new year full of healing, health and happiness for yourself.

Toxic Relationship Warning Signs

Letting go of a toxic relationship can be one of the hardest things for anyone to do. In my work as a life coach, therapist, and couples counselor, I have had the privilege of walking with many people through the experience of first recognizing that their relationship is toxic, then ending a hurtful relationship, and then healing after the “toxic relationship experience.” Toxic relationships take a toll on you, at every level. And every step of this journey is hard. (Necessary, meaningful, and empowering… but hard). I know, I’ve been there personally too.

Letting of a toxic relationship often starts with people working to improve their relationships.  At this stage they often believe that if only their partner could make changes, then they’d finally get the love, respect, and consideration they deserve. They come in to life coaching or even drag their partner in to couples therapy, hopeful that they can make improvements. (And I will say that almost all the time when two people are both committed to a relationship and willing to make changes, relationships can be transformed).

However, if your relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to be healed in marriage counseling or couples therapy. Instead, you’ll continue to feel frustrated, hurt, angry… and then elated when it seems like your partner is finally hearing you and caring about your feelings… only to be crushed when they disappoint you again. [Read: “Are You Addicted To a Toxic Relationship?”]

But in many genuinely toxic relationships, the biggest “warning sign” of all is when your partner routinely shows a lack of interest or follow-through in changing anything about the relationship. Instead, you when you bring up your feelings you get yelled at, blamed, rejected, or made to feel that the problems are all your fault.

Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship

In these situations of course, attempts at couples counseling often end badly. Most of the time, since their partners are unwilling to work on things with them, people in toxic relationships wind up entering empowering life coaching or effective therapy on their own.

Only over time (and often through deep personal growth work) do they then learn how to spot the characteristics of a toxic relationship, and come to terms with the fact that the only way to improve their situation is to take their power back and move on.

But until then, people in toxic relationships often struggle. They struggle with the mixed signals they get from their partner, because sometimes they are loving. They’re told that things will improve, and maybe they do for a little while. Many people believe that if THEY work harder at the relationship, are more loving, are more generous, and more patient that their partner will eventually change. (Because often, their partner is telling them in both overt and covert ways that the relationship problems are their fault).

Over time, a genuinely toxic relationship will destroy your self-esteem, interfere with your other relationships, make it hard to focus on positive areas of your life, and consume all of your time and attention. But through self-reflection, self-love, self-compassion (and sometimes excellent therapy or life coaching) you can begin to see that you have become attached to a profoundly unhealthy partner who is never going to give you the love and respect they deserve.

Then you can work to create positive, empowering changes: Like insisting that you are treated well, and setting firm, clear boundaries with anyone who doesn’t — especially the one who’s supposed to love them the most.

Can a Toxic Relationship Be Healed?

Ending any relationship is hard, and even people who are addicted to profoundly toxic relationships can hold on hope that the relationship can improve, sometimes for years. Many people (understandably) need to know if their toxic relationships can be healed before ending them permanently.

In fact, I get many, many relationship questions on the Growing Self blog about this very subject. Of course the writers of the questions are not labeling their relationships as toxic. They are instead describing extremely frustrating, hurtful, even crazy-making relationship experiences and then asking, what should I do? (Usually phrased as, “How do I get this person I love very much to stop treating me badly?”

If a relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to change no matter how hard YOU work at it. Why? Because it lacks the fundamental building blocks of a healthy relationship: Empathy, commitment, personal responsibility, and true love.

Your toxic relationship will finally be changed forever, when YOU decide that you’re not going to participate in it anymore. When you commit to yourself that you are worthy of love and respect, when you recognize your toxic relationship addiction for what it is, and when you learn how to cultivate the type of healing mindset that will set you free, you can end your toxic relationship for once and for all.

Letting Go of a Toxic Relationship

Because so many people have been reaching out for relationship advice on how to deal with these types of toxic relationship situations, I decided to devote an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to this subject. On this episode we’re going to be talking all about toxic relationships, including:

  • How to identify toxic relationships. I’ll be sharing the top 5 signs that you’re in a toxic relationship. Listen and give yourself the mini, “toxic relationship quiz” to find out if your relationship is actually toxic, or just temporarily frustrating.
  • Why toxic relationships are so addictive. Instead of beating yourself up for remaining in a bad relationship, learn why you’re biologically predisposed to developing intense attachments to others and why toxic relationships are actually MORE addictive than healthy relationships.
  • The difference between healthy vs toxic relationships. Just because your relationship feels hard and frustrating does not mean it’s toxic and irredeemable. Learn the difference between toxic and healthy relationships, and get access to some relationship resources to help you determine whether you should keep working at this, or move on.
  • How to leave a toxic relationship with your dignity intact. Too many toxic relationships end with, ironically, the person who was caring, trying, and hurting getting broken up with. If you’re in a toxic relationship, don’t continue to dangle on this string, waiting and hoping it will get better until they end it. Take your power back, and decide for yourself to be done. If you’re realizing that it’s time for you to pick up your self respect and move on from a toxic relationship, we’ll talk about how. We’ll discuss how to cultivate  self-compassion, self-respect. and the ability to stop depending on an unreliable, hurtful person to love you, and instead, learn how to love yourself.

 

You might be listening to this podcast at the cusp of a new year (or other major life change) and ready to leave this relationship for good. You might be just starting to explore whether or not the relationship you’re in is salvageable. You might be realizing that your relationship is toxic, but still in love and not sure how to end things. You may be caught in a toxic relationship cycle of breaking up and getting back together again. Or, you might be sitting in the pain, anger and heartbreak of just having been hurt again for the dozenth time, and looking for answers.

This podcast is for YOU.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: One of the tools I mentioned if you’re still in that “can this relationship be saved” space is my relationship quiz that can help you learn whether your relationship is fundamentally strong, or fundamentally toxic. Here’s the sign up box in case you’d like to take it. xo, LMB

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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Getting Through Hard Times, Together.

Getting Through Hard Times, Together.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

How To Weather The Storms of Life… Together

When you get married, or commit yourself to a long-term relationship, you’re signing on to support each other through thick and thin. If you’re fortunate, most of the time things are okay: the sun shines and you live in the benevolence of the universe. But not always.

Strong, successful couples also need to know how to whether the storms of life and cope when things get hard, as a unit. Unexpected job loss, a death in the family, serious illness or infertility — these are only some of the common issues that many (most? all?) couples are going to face together at some point or another. And unfortunately, dealing with difficulty can also result in strain, stress, complexity and even conflict in your relationship.

Don’t Let Adversity Destroy Your Marriage

Dealing with something very hard emotionally can create a double-whammy for your relationship. When you are not okay, you need your partner more than ever. If you’re going through something difficult, this is the time when you need to support each other the most. When you’re hurting, scared, or heartbroken, you want nothing more  than to be able to seek comfort in the arms of your life-partner. Being able to share your feelings, have emotional safety and support in your relationship is what we all crave when we’re dealing with something real.

However, and unfortunately, what often happens in relationships during tough times is that married couples can become more distant, angry, resentful or hurt. Research into marriage and relationships shows a strong correlation with things like grief, illness, and job loss can precipitate a divorce. [Listen: How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage]

Why? Because when couples are scraping the bottom of the barrel emotionally, they don’t have much left over to give to each other. Furthermore, people in relationships have different ways of dealing with hard things. When partners believe that the eother should feel the same way, or manage grief or stress the way they would, it can lead to conflict.

Lastly, knowing how to provide emotional support in the way your partner needs is not always easy. It’s not easy to articulate what you need, or even allow your partner to help you sometimes. So what often happens instead is that partners miss each other’s signals, and bids for connection. This leads to “attachment wounds” to a relationship — the experience that, when you needed your partner the most, they weren’t really there for you.

That can be hard to come back from, and can lead to both pain and resentment on both sides. And, believe it or not, this can be intensified through the holiday season when you have social obligations and expectations pulling at you, and making it hard for you to heal — both as individuals and as a couple.

Learn How to Grow Together, Not Apart

It is also true that going through adversity together (successfully) can lead to a stronger and more secure relationship than ever before. When you are going through something terrible and can go to your partner for emotional support and comfort, it feels like your love transcends hardship and creates a safe harbor for both of you.

This creates a level of bonding and security that untested couples just don’t have. You come to know each other more deeply, and have the opportunity to help your partner feel loved by you when it matters most. Many couples come out the other side of these “growth moments” feeling like together, you can make it through anything.

Coping With Grief and Loss, As a Couple

So, today on the show, we’re going there and talking about how to negotiate these hard times successfully, as a couple. I’ve invited a couple of Growing Self experts to lend their expertise around how to get through hard times, together. Master marriage counselor, couples therapist, and relationship coach Meagan Terry, M.A., LMFT will be sharing her best relationship advice to help you both have greater empathy and compassion for each other when the chips are down. She’ll be discussing communication strategies you can use to stay connected through hard times, and also some tips for how to support each other as individuals around things like illness, grief, and death.

Supporting Each Other Through Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

Meagan is also sharing her insight around how to cope with infertility, as a couple. Millions of couples, across the US deal privately with the pain of infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss. The stress of infertility treatment, and the grief of disappointment can take a toll on couples. Meagan speaks about how you can support each other emotionally on your journey towards building a family.

Protect Your Marriage After a Layoff

Another common issue that impacts so many couples is unwanted job loss. I’ve invited master career coach Maggie Graham, M.Ed., LPC, CPC  to share her best tips for how to cope with the stress of a layoff or job loss and stay connected with your partner as you go through it. We’ll also be discussing some tips for how partners can avoid conflict during periods of unemployment, and learn how to support each other during this financially scary time.

We hope that this discussion helps you find your way through this hard time together.

Yours sincerely,

Lisa Marie Bobby, Meagan Terry, and Maggie Graham.

PS: If this isn’t your truth right now, it’s likely that you have people in your life that are suffering. We encourage you to think about who in your life may benefit from hearing this advice and share it with them. Being seen and supported by you (especially during the holiday season when grief and loss is not on everyone’s radar) may mean more to them than you’ll ever know. xoxo, LMB

PPS: If you have thoughts or follow up questions for myself, Meagan or Maggie, ask away in the comments section below. We read them all! 🙂

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Getting Through Hard Times, Together

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Boundaries = Happy Holidays

So many wonderful things are possible during the holidays: Quiet time to expand our souls, the chance to embrace generosity and good will, opportunities to enjoy the warmth of our families and friends, and be grateful for the wonderful relationships in our lives.

But many people suffer through this season, becoming increasingly frazzled, resentful, and hurt with every new disappointing interaction, extra commitment, and unrealistic expectation put on them. (And often, feeling most hurt and put-upon by the people who should love them the best). I’ve been a marriage and family therapist for a loooong time now, and there is one thing I consistently see in people who do NOT have a good time over the holidays: Bad boundaries.

When Boundaries Are a Problem Over The Holidays

  • When Boundaries Are Too Soft: When people are too passive and don’t speak up about their needs and feelings, they often wind up feeling put-upon, mistreated or disrespected by family members, children, friends or partners, and resentments brew. 
  • When Boundaries Are Too Hard: When people are too rigid and inflexible with their boundaries, they often feel tense, stressed out, and irritable by all the assaults to their preferences that this season can fling. Furthermore, friends and family members may feel put-upon, mistreated or disrespected by them — and it creates unnecessary conflict.
  • When Boundaries Are Not Considered: When people aren’t self-aware and clear about their own limits and struggle to hold healthy boundaries with themselves, they overcommit time and energy, have unrealistic expectations of themselves, over-indulge in unhealthy ways, and are prone to overspending. This leaving them feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally and financially depleted by the time New Year’s rolls around. Not fun at all.

Because these kinds of boundary problems are so common (and so darn avoidable, with advance planning) I thought I’d put together some holiday-specific boundary advice for you.

Listen, and learn specific, actionable tips and tools that you can use to set healthy limits with your self and others, and also be selectively flexible.

I sincerely hope that it helps you stay in a good place over the next month, and enhance all the wonderful moments that this season has to offer.

All the best to YOU this holiday season…

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Are You in a Toxic Workplace? How to Know If You Are… and What to Do About It

Are You in a Toxic Workplace? How to Know If You Are… and What to Do About It

Maggie Graham, M.A., LPC, CPC is a career coach and executive coach with a degree in Career Development. She specializes in helping people get clarity about their life’s purpose, and the skills and strategies to overcome obstacles and create a life they love.

Is Your Toxic Job Impacting Your Mental and Emotional Health?

For those of you so deeply affected by the latest crazy-making experience in your toxic workplace that you’re almost too stunned to type… For those of you sitting at your desk, cradling your head in your hands… For those of you frantically searching co-workers’ faces for clues, wondering if you’re the only one noticing the madness… This blog post is for you.

Rule #1 of Toxic Workplaces: They Make You Doubt Yourself

Are you second-guessing your work experience with questions like:

  • Is it really that bad?
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • What can I do about it anyway?

Here’s the thing: not every work struggle fits the label of “toxic workplace.” Sometimes a job is bad fit for you. Sometimes challenging work experiences may be due to a “boomerang effect,” where you’re dishing out meanness and judgment and that’s what comes back at you. Perhaps the person creating a stench has a hidden diagnosis or an invisible family situation that’s creating a ripple effect with their work.

So, yeah, there may be reasonable explanations and solutions if it feels like toxicity is showing up in your workplace. At the same time, it’s worth getting some key questions and terms defined and clear, to help you determine if you are on a toxic workplace or not.

Signs Your Workplace Is Actually Toxic

A toxic work situation looks as unique as each person, and there are still some conditions that show up make things fall legitimately under the toxic umbrella, including:

  • Harm to people or property
  • Unpredictability is the rule, not just about daily happenings but also about your job’s longevity
  • There’s an unhealthy person with a big ripple or clusters of unhealthy people (this can be leaders, colleagues, or clients)
  • You notice drama, gossip, bullying.
  • Your nervous system is on high alert in more than just a passing way (this can be caused by many variables beyond your work environment, so it’s important to look for the root of this scenario with a professional). Tips that you’re in an elevated state of anxiety:

There’s no set formula for definitively calling a workplace toxic. My rule of thumb is that if my client calls it toxic, I trust their judgment. You might also feel empowered and motivated simply by declaring that your job is toxic to you. No one else has to endorse the term. Unless you plan to pursue legal action, no one else needs to testify that their experience parallels yours. If it doesn’t suit you, let’s make a plan for shifting gears for you.

How to Manage a Toxic Workplace

Key questions I often ask my clients to help them create a survival / action plan if they’re dealing with a toxic workplace environment include:

  • If you remove one person, does the problem go away?
  • What the worst that can happen if you pursue any of the avenues you’re considering and are you willing and able to deal with those worst-case scenarios?
  • What does your support network look like? Can you activate your network to help you through this transition?

In general, the quickest and most efficient solution to workplace toxicity is to find another job. Sometimes that’s not feasible or easy or quick, so we can look at other options, but know that making a switch – either internally if you think the problem will be solved if you’re out of the sphere of one particular person, or externally, if the issue appears to be systemic and entrenched – often takes planning, strategy, and finesse.

Beyond deliberating about whether to segue to a new position, there are some approaches you can take to lessening the immediate impact on yourself, and for me, those tactics are rooted in understanding and leveraging power dynamics.

Six Strategies to Survive a Toxic Workplace, and Take Your Power Back

First, know that it’s useful to recognize what power is. The great civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. defined power as the ability to achieve purpose and effect change. I often review several categories of power with my clients, including:

  • Hierarchical power: an organization’s structure, who reports to whom, who has hire/fire authority, who has the ear of the influential people? Generally, if you’re seeking help with workplace toxicity, this isn’t the type of power you have readily accessible – the good news, it’s not the only kind of power you can leverage.
  • Logistical power: the physical infrastructure of where you work – is there a safe place where you can retreat, can you use buffers to block your line of sight or stay off others’ radars? Can you escape for breaks, outside for a Vitamin D break? Is there a way for you to psychologically indicate to yourself that you’re no longer needing to carry the stressors of work (a mantra when you leave work each day, for example)?
  • Ninja power: your interpretation of the situation – how can you reconfigure your perspective and shift how external stressors affect you? This is where a coach or therapist can really support you using techniques such as mindfulness or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Viktor Frankl, the famous psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
  • Peer or posse power: banding together with those in the same situation, acting as a block and/or support network. If you plan to cultivate and access this power, be attentive to the structure and know that there’s a risk that you may be perceived as being exclusionary and/or stirring up ire. Proceed with caution.
  • Loud power: fight fire with fire. Give as good as you get. I never recommend this approach because it has aggression at its root. Still, some people believe that you have to call out a bully to get the bully to back down. I admit it – I just can’t go there. I’m only including here because it’s a tactic that I hear often – just one that I’ve never heard used with success.
  • External power: advocacy groups, particularly if you identify your situation as part of a larger societal issue such as racism, sexual harassment, ageism, or other experience that a social justice movement might address. Ask yourself whether you want to part of a revolution that topples existing power structures. If your answer is yes, access the resources of advocacy organizations to support you in your quest.

Tips For Strategizing Your Way Though a Toxic Workplace: Advice From a Career Coach

There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution to workplace toxicity, but some tips that I offer my clients include:

  • Play the long game: It’s tempting to seek revenge and/or grab for a moment of vindication that can be costly over time. Know your goal and work systematically towards it. Steven Slater, former JetBlue flight attendant, who quit in a fury triggered a media frenzy by deploying the emergency exit slide, grabbing beer, and cursing passengers. He became a bit of a folk hero, but he also faced serious legal charges.
  • Document, document, document: It not only helps you develop your approach, it grounds you in the truth of what you’re experiencing.
  • Consult your human resources team: Ask for confidential input about your situation if your workplace offers private consultation with an HR professional for employees
  • Seek legal advice: One of the best places to start this process is to research the labor laws in your state or jurisdiction.
  • Read The Asshole Survivor’s Guide by Robert Sutton: Ideas, perspective, and insights – well worth reading.
  • Read Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown: Tips and tools for how to create a positive workplace.
  • Join our “Designing Your Life” online career group, for both support and empowerment.

This topic can be difficult to address, so get support as you navigate the often pothole-filled roads of reconfiguring your worklife to get yourself what you need: fulfilling work in a supportive, nourishing environment. Act on your own behalf. You know you’d advise anyone in a situation similar to yours to do the same.

But Wait, There’s More

I have even MORE advice for you on how to manage a toxic work environment. Listen to my interview with Dr. Lisa on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for tips on how to:

  • Identify the signs of a toxic workplace
  • Navigating the stages of toxic workplace healing: Identification, survival, exit, and recovery
  • What you can change and what you can’t
  • How to manage the emotional damage of a toxic workplace
  • How to exit a toxic job and get a new one, gracefully
  • How to spot the warning signs that you might be applying for a position in a toxic workplace

Hope this helps you!

Maggie Graham, M.A., LPC, CPC

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Is Your Workplace Toxic? How to Tell, and How to Cope.

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Beck, “Soul Suckin’ Jerk”

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