Q: I worked in an abusive work environment for a long period of time and as a result I now have serious confidence and trust issues. I spoke out while I was there not realizing what they were capable of with regards to retaliation. I am having a hard time getting past it and all of this has put our family in a bad financial position. I have become paranoid and have tried everything to come to terms with it. I try therapy and then I can't trust the therapist, etc. I need help learning emotional intelligence and what to do about trust. It's debilitating. Thank you for anything and everything you can do to help. I'm a very motivated, creative person and yes the industry I'm in is tough but what's happening is actually way beyond anything I ever imagined. Help! —Alyssa
A: That sounds absolutely horrible! And from the tone of your e-mail, it also sounds like this is having a significant negative impact in all aspects of your life (not just work). It must feel tremendously overwhelming, frustrating and even hopeless. Let’s see if I can help to turn that around.
So, here are some questions for you to tackle as you begin to think about next steps to reclaim the life you want.
1. How much more / how much longer can you live like this? Knowing your breaking point is important as you begin to think about next steps. Don't push yourself to the limit. Acts of desperation rarely play well.
2. Would a break help? What about some form of vacation or getaway? What I am hearing in all of this is that your problem has extended beyond your work and now lives in your environment. Getting away from your environment all together to get a different perspective on life and to recharge may help. Consider it as an option.
3. Is it time for a major change? Consider moving your family all together. Changing locals might be a good first step, but changing industries may also not be a bad idea. Even if you feel like you aren't in a position to do that right now, planning for this may also give you a renewed feeling of control vs. feeling stuck / hopeless in your current situation.
4. Do you have others in your life you can trust? You need trusting voices right now. I'm concerned when you say you didn't trust your therapist. Not good. Keep searching until you find the right fit. You need 2-4 people in your life you can trust to help get you through this.
Hope this helps. Don't hesitate to ask if you need anything more. That's what I'm here for!
—Brandon, “The Workplace Therapist”