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Lifesaving Lessons From a Toxic Workplace

It took a major perspective change to preserve my health.

This article is for all the hard workers out there that find themselves in a workplace that is less than desirable—in other words, a hellhole!

I don’t consider my experience a waste because I learned some vital lessons about myself that I’m sharing here. 

Don’t try to hang in there and stick it out!

This is a big one because I am the person that takes hardship as a personal challenge to see if I can outlast and overcome. 

Here’s how it went:

I knew the first day that this would be a “work my butt off” type of job, but I was willing to give it a shot because the pay was decent and I had bills. All fine and good. 

Three months in: I knew it was a lousy place, and I needed a raise. Enter new management and the possibility of things getting better. I decided to hang in and hope for the best. 

Four months in: things were no better, the holidays were coming, which meant holiday pay, so I decided to hang in a little longer. 

Six months in: more new management and more demands on me. But I had benefits and a steady paycheck close to home. I hated twelve hour shifts, but I told myself that practically and logistically, this was the best option. So I decided to tough it out. After all, I wouldn’t be here forever. 

(Do you see a recurring theme about the importance of money here? More on that in a bit.)

Eight months in: Dreading work, I had to mentally brace myself for the overwhelming drain of a negative atmosphere. 

Now at this point, a rational person would say, “This isn’t worth it. Money is money, and I can earn it elsewhere.” 

But no, not me! I was planning to move in a couple months, so I could stick it out. It wasn’t worth leaving and finding another job just for a couple of months. 

Plus, I really hate change. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, right?

Nine months in: The final straw that broke this camel’s back—the day my boss threatened my license because I complained about unsafe working conditions. Yup, good old coercion to get me to endanger myself.

I was done! No two weeks notice, no nothing. Just a resounding, “I QUIT!”

So, the moral of this long, dragged-out story is this: 

If it’s bad, get out!

Don’t wait for things to get better because you’re not a quitter. Just quit and move on. I could’ve saved myself a huge amount of stress and frustration by listening to my instincts. Don’t stay somewhere toxic to your health just for money. 

And that brings me to my next point:

Money isn’t everything!

I stayed in a horrible job because I was afraid of not making enough money. Even though my bills were paid and I had some savings, I still felt the need to keep making more. What if I couldn’t find a job with the same pay and couldn’t save for the future?

It’s not being responsible to stay in a horrible place just for the money. Being responsible means taking care of my mental and physical health by doing what’s best for me!

Unfortunately, a lifelong belief that money is everything tends to sneak back into my mentality. And I put myself through a lot of misery because of it. 

Being the boss doesn’t mean they own you!

This was another big one for me because I was raised to respect people in authority, follow orders, and do my best to meet expectations. 

But this doesn’t mean blindly following someone that obviously has no interest in my welfare. I have to let people know when I can’t or won’t do something and why. When orders are given that harm me or someone I’m responsible for, there’s a problem. I have to speak up.

Some bosses like to think that they can control people’s lives. Maybe it’s out of fear, insecurity, or just a power trip. But no matter the reason, it’s infringing on my personal freedom and is not acceptable. They may be my boss, but they’re not my God! I will be all too happy to step up and bust their bubble on that one!

The takeaway:

All of my experience has taught me one thing:

I must respect and value myself.

If I don’t, people will try to take advantage of me. Only I can truly know my worth, and only I can make that known and stand up to protect myself. 

I’ve learned that my mental and physical health is something worth fighting for. It’s essential to survive and thrive. 

Previously published on Medium

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