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5 Phases of Recovering from a Toxic Workplace

Susan Crawford is the founder of Meraki Inspired Coaching & Consultation Inc. She is a dynamic coach, facilitator and speaker passionate about helping people create an unapologetic, unconventional, and unf*ckwithable life, on their terms.


Whether you called it the Great Resignation or the Great Redirection - the mass reckoning for professionals throughout the pandemic resulted in deep self-reflection and a reprioritization of values, purpose, and progress.

Many professionals who previously tolerated toxic workplaces, or inept leadership or fractured relationships with colleagues, have chosen to leave and instead create a new path forward by redefining success, happiness, and fulfillment on their own terms.

Unfortunately, many of these professionals continue to struggle with the residue of bad bosses and psychologically unsafe environments which may be preventing them from fully moving forward with confidence.

They become hyper vigilant and aware of the impact existing in a toxic workplace had on their mental and emotional well-being and end up in a constant state of fight or flight when they feel triggered by oftentimes neutral situations.

At this juncture, struggling professionals must evolve or repeat. Toxic workplace trauma is real.

Now, it’s time to heal.

Here’s 5 phases you must pass through if you want to move forward with confidence, intention, and integrity:

Empower. Reclaim your power by changing the narrative in your mind that says you failed, gave up or quit when you made the bold decision to walk away from what no longer serves you. When you've experienced gaslighting, it's easy to drown in self-doubt. Your truth is real, honor it and choose to be the author of your life's next chapter.

Forgive. To move through the stages of healing, the most important person to forgive is yourself. Forgive yourself for staying too long, putting yourself (and your wellbeing) last, and abandoning yourself time and time again. Forgive yourself for tolerating, conforming, sacrificing and compromising more than you should have, then, promise yourself to never do it again.

Release. Release the obligations and expectations others put on you. Give yourself permission to let go of the habits, beliefs and behaviors that got (and kept) you stuck so that you can stop operating from fear and survival. Intentionally create space for the future you want by clearing out the mental, physical and emotional clutter.

Heal. Shed the protective armor you needed to survive and drop the guilt, shame, doubt and fear that you've been carrying. Grieve, get angry, listen to your body and process your experience fully. Recognize your triggers, learn to manage your emotions and tap into the courage and resilience that got you here. Healing is the gift only YOU can give, and it starts with giving yourself compassion, empathy and unconditional love.

Evolve. You are being called to reflect, recognize, and learn from your experience. Acknowledge how you've changed, what you learned, and who you've become as a result. Celebrate your journey and commit to yourself and the future you want to create.

If you’re recovering from a toxic workplace, it’s important to give yourself time, be patient, and practice compassion. Healing is a journey that cannot be rushed and if you want to move forward feeling confident, empowered, and in control, create time to do the inner work.

Give yourself permission to heal. Give yourself permission to let go. Give yourself permission to move forward.


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