Workplace Abuse: Are You Being Followed?

For most of my life I was locked into complaining about the abusive situations in my life being unfair and unnecessary. It was my “Why me?” war cry. I felt picked on and bathed in a tremendous amount of self-pity at the personal nature of the abuse.

And yet abuse is experienced by all of us at one time or another. We don’t always allow ourselves to feel it, preferring to pretend that it isn’t there. Maybe we feel unable to deal with it or maybe we don’t want to deal with it, or perhaps it is so commonplace that we’ve just become submersed in its subtle ways. When the abuse becomes extreme, we often become much more motivated to explore what it might be about, because the tension in our body is so uncomfortable.

At one time in my working career I found myself in a job that I really enjoyed and I saw that in that role, I was very capable. It was a creative position and each step or activity seemed to come to me easily. I had a lot of friends, there was a playfulness in the team environment and I began to beam for the first time in many years. My confidence in myself and my abilities rose to new heights and I began to feel good about who I was.

That was until a new employee was brought into the team and everything started to change. Within a week the abuse started – hurtful comments, sniping, put downs, questioning and complaints about my work. It was all very subtle and sneaky in the beginning, so much that I would just try to let it ride, confused as to why this person was behaving in this way. As time progressed the abuse grew in intensity and regularity, and became much more manipulative, involving many more people who did not necessarily realise what was happening.

In reaction to this, I began to change for the worse. My newfound confidence faded away and I felt miserable each day going to work. I had lost the bounce to get out of bed, my anxiety escalated through the roof and not even the creativity of the position was enough to provide any spark. I felt squashed, belittled and was busy nervously watching my back for the next setup or abusive attack. The bullying didn’t just affect my work, it affected my whole life.

The work unit was aware of the situation, but they said there was very little that could be done to make another stop their behaviour. There were formal procedures to follow, of course, but quite often it was more traumatic than the bullying itself as the organisation was defensive and keen to protect itself from any liability. Each time I googled ‘workplace abuse,’ it told me to leave and find another job and, in the end, that is what I did. Once I had made up my mind, I immediately found another position, only to find bullying present in that job too. I was beginning to fall apart.

I was being followed by abuse and it felt unfair.

I wallowed in self-pity for many years after that and my anger at the unfairness of this grew in intensity. It was clear to me that there was no point in running again from the abuse as it was all around; it would catch up with me again. Now feeling pushed into a corner, I knew I had no other choice but to address it myself and I did that by committing to learn more about myself.

Addressing the Abuse: Knowing it Inside-Out

It became apparent that the way I had learned to live with abuse made me a very easy target for any abuser, because I had learned at a very young age to not speak up. I did not hold myself in high regard, nor did I value or deeply honour myself. I relied on other people for approval so that I could feel good about myself and I allowed people to treat me as a doormat. I would go to any length to avoid having a difficult conversation, to avoid conflict or say what was really needed at the time.

I was a peacekeeper and desperately wanted everyone in the world to be nice to each other, to be pleasant. I just couldn’t accept that life was the way that it was and longed for it to be different. Those beliefs allowed me to be abused for more years than I am willing to admit. It didn’t matter how hard I was pushed or how cruel the bullying became, I would never say anything to the person or expose it for what it was. I had become a professional peacekeeper to my own detriment.

Universal Medicine, at this time, offered great support and helped me understand life to a point where I made small changes to myself. I began to focus on honouring and loving myself first and foremost and from there I knew I would find the wisdom needed. No tactics on what to do in these situations or what to say, just to bring love to me and not to expect it from the workplace or the world. Eventually I knew I had to stop holding back in expressing myself in everyday life and in every way: in the way I dressed, the way I walked, the words I spoke, the way I worked…. Every. Single. Way.

In the early stages of this change, when I opened my mouth to address the bully, the years of hurt, frustration and peacekeeping meant I would often react and say what I felt in an unloving way, or I would change my words to be all soft and mushy. So even though it appeared that I was addressing the situation, the expression was tainted with a horrid energy that was not there to heal, but focussed on getting the threat off my back. I knew inside this was not the way, but opening my mouth was a good step in the right direction.  There was more to learn.

As the years rolled on, I continued to take one little step at a time, learning more and more about myself. I began to see that I could speak up much more easily than I was able to do before, and I felt much more empowered by honouring what I felt, and in a way which was not reactive or emotional. The first few times when this happened I surprised even myself. I had found my way forward.

I came to realise that there was always a belief standing in the way, and this belief had to be challenged each and every time“I can’t say that, they’re a Director,” “I can’t say that, they helped me out last week,” “I can’t say that, I might lose my job,” “I can’t say that, it might hurt them.” The list of ideals and beliefs are endless indeed.

The biggest shift came though when I began to see a pattern in my life – jealousy – a topic introduced by Serge Benhayon at a Universal Medicine Retreat. At first I found it impossible to conceive that someone would be jealous of me because I didn’t see there was much about me or my life that was very special at all. But when I cast the notion of jealousy over every abusive situation in my life, I could see how it was possible that another may react to me in a jealous way. There were attributes about me which were strong indeed – determination, creativity, initiating, appreciative, understanding, loving, sincerity, competence, playfulness, caring – all likable characteristics. What a turnaround point in my life.

Whenever I felt amazing, whenever my confidence began to emanate, whenever great things were beginning to happen in my life, whenever I began to shine, a situation would happen where a person would appear and become abusive towards me. It was always much more devastating when the attack came from someone close to me and who I trusted dearly. Instantly I would feel threatened by the conflict and would contract away, becoming small and sad about my life once again. The pattern was now exposed, and I knew then that I had spent my life purposely keeping my shine down so that I didn’t have to deal with these types of attacks.

But living like this had become too destructive and was personally cruel. I had to find a way to live in the world in my fullness, and to deal with these attacks for they would never stop. The alternative, to live suppressed and in sadness, was no longer an option.

Realising that there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me and that I wasn’t ‘bad’ because I attracted such abuse was liberating! I came to understand that we live in a world where people make choices to live less than who they really are and have invested in so many things to try to make life work, and when they feel another has chosen not to sell out and has made more loving choices, they attack in their jealousy and outrage. It was clear, this was the perfect way to bring another down, to make them less, and observing this play out was groundbreaking to say the least.

I experimented with this for a while, as the world is a fabulous playground that offers opportunities time and time again. I now feel within my body the beginnings of an inner power that allows me to read what is happening in the moment, and respond in a way that is needed without an ounce of emotion. It doesn’t mean that the abuse does not hurt, as it is certainly horrible to feel, but it doesn’t have to get out of hand and spiral into much more than a simple acknowledgement that what was said or done in that moment wasn’t loving at all.

It is so beautiful to get to the place within myself where I can allow myself to feel the love-lessness from another in their accusations and behaviour, and be able to read exactly what the intention is, stay open to them and respond in a way that is needed, without the imposition of emotion or defensiveness.

I can feel how life from this point forward is really going to change.

In the world we live in – in its current state – there may be those heartless situations for many years to come until we all get the fact that this abusive way to be with each other is not coming from Love and is not coming from a place that represents who we really are. To use these times as practice sessions and to learn what is being asked of us, gives power back to us all.

The abusive situations allowed me to find the authority within to stand up for what is truly loving and to live from this to the best of my ability. I had to begin to allow myself to read what was really going on, instead of reacting to what I would see or hear and make myself less. It was essential that I learned to trust what I felt in my body, as that was the true reading in the situation if only I didn’t dismiss it, reinterpret it or push it away because I didn’t want to deal with the situation.

If we were to be raised knowing that all that happens to us in life, happens to unveil our deep commitment to Love and to Truth, and to support us to evolve to be our true selves, then maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid and maybe our choices and responses in life would begin to change and reflect a true way for us to live together in the world without the need to resort to abuse, jealousy, control, manipulation and even contraction.

Abuse may follow us for the rest of our lives, but we have an inner knowing and a strength that is so much more powerful than the love-lessness of abuse. Surrendering to the world just as it is allows the space for us to deal with life in a way that is needed in the moment. This is not something that we will master to perfection, but our commitment to this way will always be a wonder-full step in the right direction.

By Maree Savins, Australia

Related Reading:
Abuse – My Understanding So Far
Understanding in Relationships – How Judgment Contributes to Abuse
The Truth about the Cycle of Abuse

400 thoughts on “Workplace Abuse: Are You Being Followed?

  1. “Each time I googled ‘workplace abuse,’ it told me to leave and find another job” – Isn’t this crazy, that instead of addressing the lack-of standards, guidelines and policies in workplaces that say NO to abuse, we have created a system where we’re told to just ‘move on’ or ‘deal with it’. This is not only happening in workplaces, but in society too with racism, domestic violence and discrimination where we’re not meant to take anything ‘personally’ because who knows, our partner could be having a bad day.

  2. Sometimes situations can just seem like a burden and a pain to have to deal with but changing my perspective to recognise that there is always an opportunity for us to learn, evolve and deepen the love that we express with helps me to reconnect myself with a bigger purpose than just thinking about me…

  3. It’s so important to deal with abuse when it occurs and learn to speak up against it. This is easier said than done as sometimes it is not easy to spot. If we do not deal with it it will simply occur again and again. If we have spoken up and dealt with it and it still happens the only thing left to do is walk away. In my case I also reported it as I left.

  4. No matter what are issues are, they will always follow and reoccur until we deal or re-imprint the issue. As everything is energy and because of energy, dealing with issues means looking at the energy behind the issue.

  5. A powerful account Maree. – ‘I began to focus on honouring and loving myself first and foremost and from there I knew I would find the wisdom needed.’ – This sentence alone is gold and offers a reflection much needed in the world, if we all focus on honouring and loving ourselves first and foremost, we will naturally know where to go next.

  6. Holding back our expression creates an opening for any abuse to come into our lives, for there is always a paper trail where we have compromised what we feel in our bodies for a value that is not real but a picture of how we like life to be. Saying no to abuse is the beginning as it asks us to take more responsibility on our day-to-day living.

  7. When I became a Team Leader a year ago I became aware that I was potentially in a position in which I could abuse others. Being in a position of power within a job comes with responsibility and that needs to be taken very seriously. A job title does not give us the power to abuse. It is simply a role that has a function. Beyond that we need to remain human and practice compassion and understanding in any situation that may otherwise be volatile.

  8. ‘Surrendering to the world just as it is allows the space for us to deal with life in a way that is needed in the moment.’ – How true – we can attempt to ‘save the world’ or ‘fix a situation’ only to find that we are exhausting ourselves and that in truth nothing gets changed.

  9. The level of self-awareness that you have gained with your willingness to look at your experience from a different angle is amazing and an important reflection for all.

  10. It can become a habit, once abused, we almost expect to receive abuse again, and the pattern can set in. Everyone can feel this, so we become the easy target for the bullies who are actually cowards themselves. Once we know the inner power we have within, we can stand up and say no to abuse, and the energy changes.

  11. If we look at life through the eyes of truth we can see that life is all about cycles. The scenery may change and the cycles may repeat for many lifetimes, but cycles they are. Until we complete a cycle, we will stay in it.

  12. “Abuse may follow us for the rest of our lives, but we have an inner knowing and a strength that is so much more powerful than the love-lessness of abuse.” Yes absolutely, Love will always be felt, it is always there we just need to choose it. When we are sure of the love we are abuse has absolutely no where to go.

  13. Today there is a big focus on cyber bullying and stalking – on privacy laws and us all being monitored and observed- big brother style. But what I feel in reading your words Maree is the greatest and the most relentless pest in human history is this abuse. It tracks our every step and is there just when we least expect, it turns up to our most intimate moments. But what we need to see is we actually invited it, magnetically. Like a recipe you cook you can’t complain when the results turn out unpleasant and cause you pain. The key is what you choose to put out or in. We make our own life, so if we don’t like what is coming our way, it’s time to reconsider the choices we make every day.

  14. Bullying in the playground, at the workplace, at home or wherever, is not on, and needs to be called out for what it is…but there is also the element of a person not playing the victim and not playing the game either. You can only have a bully when you have a victim, for without the victim the bully is simply a hurt and unbalanced person who needs to be supported back to balance again. When we see it like this, then we can approach it differently and support both parties to come back to their own innate strength and balance.

  15. What an amazingly expansive way to see life and even abuse that it’s there to allow us to live the greatness we are, and if we can see life in this way nothing is a struggle.

  16. You really have blown apart the workplace bully concept. You have taken the ultimate responsibility, without for a second letting the bully energy off the hook, sounds like you are seriously nailing it, well done!

  17. There is no point addressing bully behaviour outside of us until we feel just how we bully ourselves. A humbling but necessary step.

  18. The thing I have noticed about life is that where ever you go, any un-dealt with issues keep coming up until you decide to tackle them head on. I tried moving to another country to avoid mine, but it didn’t work.

    1. Yes spot on “any un-dealt with issues keep coming up until you decide to tackle them head on.” This ought to be a well known and recognised fact that we learn early on. Too many people have noticed the same situation keeps repeating, but instead of reflecting on how come the situation is ‘following them’, they point the finger outwards and give up on society.

  19. Our life is full of relationships – whether that is with parents, partners, work colleagues and more, a relationship which is true allows us to be in our body and let it be what it naturally is where as a relationship which isn’t true always makes us tense up and change. And this is the beginning of abuse.

  20. Many years ago I had a work situation that could have potentially dragged through the courts as an unfair dismissal case here in the UK, and at the time all my work colleagues were keen that I should fight my corner, and in a way theirs. But I chose to let it go because I realised that I would have to stay in the same energy of being treated unfairly or the victim for what could be several years, and I was not prepared to do that.

  21. And the thing is that for so many millions and millions of people they really feel that there is no alternative but to actually put up with this deep level of abuse that is happening at their workplace. It really is time for a very big paradigm shift

  22. We have to bring understanding to every situation we are in. People react for all sorts of reasons and if we can just remain steady within ourselves then it does not matter about another’s reaction.

    1. Yes, it comes back to every single one of us, and any situation requires the responsibility of all (involved). The more we learn and work on staying steady with ourselves the more of a help we are to others.

  23. What we do not learn but what you show here clearly is that everything always has everything to do with us and thus we always have the power to change that what is not working.

  24. Yes we don’t tend to address abuse until it becomes uncomfortable. Hence comfort is the real abuse to address for it allows any manner of ills to continue for far too long…

  25. We communicate either a yes to abuse or a no to abuse through the way we move. If our moves are in an apology, a cowering of who we are, we are already in abuse – and hence, like attracts like.

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