Bad Boss Experience

there are a lot of things that can break our spirit and bosses are in a key position to do just that

lori-tulips-backgroundI’ve just read through the comments from those who wrote in about the first post on broken spirits.  Seems like there are a lot of things that can break our spirit and bosses are in a key position to do just that. I’ve been asking around and find that nearly everyone one has a “bad boss” experience at some point in their career.  So if you are having a “bad boss” experience, you are not alone, even though it may seem like it.

I’m going to begin with a summary of what we’ve heard from our comments about what has broken people’s spirits.

The jealous boss

This is not uncommon, however in most cases the subject of the jealousy is not the personal gains of an employee. This happens, but not as often as the threats of the personal characteristics of the employee.  Insecure bosses can easily be threatened by employees who are smarter than they are; have more skills in specific areas; have community contacts that are influential; are better liked by colleagues and upper managers or corporate leaders than they are.  When this happens, sabotage can be the result. Spirits can break.

False accusations

When an organization needs a “fall guy” it can often be the lowest employee on the totem pole, the employee that is most threatening to the status quo, simply the employee who is the closest to the problem, or the messenger. This really hurts and is a vial spirit breaker.

Unpredictable underhandedness:

This is so painful. Part of what makes this so hard is the predictableness of it.  It is like the old “double messages” we used to think caused, or contributed to, Schizophrenia – that’s how powerful it is!  It is a powerful way to break a spirit. It crushes the ability to trust and feel safe. These are two prerequisites to building a strong spirit, either within one’s self or within an organization. The most hurtful aspect of this spirit breaker is the betrayal aspect.

No information

This is very subtle, yet a powerful way to eat away at spirits. It leaves one feeling isolated and alone instead of being part of a team or organization.  When there is no information, one can feel like an outsider. It makes it hard to identify with the purpose,  and in fact hard to establish an identity at all since there is nothing to build on or to connect to. This is also true for misleading information or inaccurate information.


Underneath all spirit breakers is this one powerful culprit – fear.  When we are afraid it is very difficult to be our authentic self. It is also very hard to feel safe when there is a constant threat of fear.  In a spirit breaking situation, fear is often used to control others, like the story I told of my work experience from a spirit breaking boss.

So how do we survive, or perhaps even thrive, in a circumstance that is fear ridden and spirit breaking? Is it even possible to thrive?  We’ll see… has to do with building one’s spirit on solid ground so it can withstand the tremors of massive quakes.

4 thoughts on “Bad Boss Experience”

  1. Hi Lori

    I really resonate with the “bad boss experience” and your summary thereof. I think it is harder to cope with when one comes from significant lived experience and encounter this spirit breaking behaviour in a peer led workforce. PSW’s is emotionally strong but also vulnerable human beings and as much as I tried rolling with the deliberate resistance, insecurity and unethical behaviour of my boss’ I must admit that I feel totally defeated by him.

    I know defeat is a state of mind and reflecting back on what I have overcome in my life I realise I should be very capable in dealing with this issue. Problem is that when all one has is hope and it gets taken away from you purposefully, deliberately and undeservedly it does become spirit breaking and inhumane

    The only way I can deal with his insecureties and manipulative behaviour is to walk tall, dig deep into my wellness toolbox and positively affirm my own self worth daily. The fact that this behaviour originated from an individual that is expected to role model recovery oriented values deeply questioned my belief in peer support principles and significantly tested my inner strengths and resiliency.

    I decided to hand it over to the Creator as my spirit and soul belongs to Him, walked away with dignity and the understanding that wherever one is in your journey of recovery, batting a curve ball is part of life and being alive, albeit a spirit breaking experience.

    Knowing that others has gone through similar experiences does strengthen my resolve to remain positive

    Kind regards


    1. HI Joe,
      I think you are doing the best thing by turning it over. This sounds like one of those situations that is beyond human strength. I know how tough this must be for you, having been in a similar situation myself. If you think unethical things are happening, do you think you should tell someone higher up in the organization? Sometimes this is a good idea and sometimes it just comes back on you, so I don’t know , just raising the question for you to consider. Since you have accomplished a lot and have risen to the point of being a peer specialist, I’m thinking you have a great deal of strength. There must be something in this situation that is opening and old wound for you and bringing up feelings of hopelessness and despair. Can you put your finger on anything in your past that may be intensifying this situation? If so, this may be an opportunity heal old wounds.

      I don’t want to get into talking much about this boss. It’s clear that leadership skills are lacking and immaturity is raging. But what I have learned in my 12 step group is that I am the only person I can really change. Think about how to change your response to this mistreatment. After turning it over, are there any things you can discover about yourself that will help you grow beyond the responses you are having now? How can you use your strengths to overcome your reactions?

      What ever you do, know that you are not alone. There are many of us who have had and/or are having this same experience. the more you can use it to grow stronger the more you can strengthen your own recovery.

      Much love to you. Let us know how it goes.

      1. Hi Lori

        I eventually identified and worked through the emotional cause and effect of my ‘bad boss’ experience and used natural resilience to deal with it effectively. His behavior triggered an internal response (flashback) to a similar issue I experienced in the military 30 years ago.

        The hardest part is when prospective employers and community partners ask me why I resigned from such a reputable organisation and I have to admit that my conscious left me no other choice. The flow on effect is that I now cannot get employment as a PSW as the issue has spread through our small consumer and health care network regardless of my skill level as a professional PSS.

        I now offer a benevolent peer support service whilst researching peer recovery coaching curriculum with the intent to start my own business. In summary I feel that this experience reinforced my thinking that peer support is values based and why Hope will always be the strongest pillar of recovery for me.

        Your writings on this subject has brought perspective and i would like to thank you for acknowledging, understanding and validating my experience.

        Kind regards


  2. Hi Lori,

    I was reading your summary about what has broken peoples’ spirits and I agree with your description of fear being a powerful culprit, in fact from my life exprience, it is the greatest culprit.

    When I am in a state of fear, I am constricting my life-giving flow of Love that is my inherent birthright as a creation of the Divine, that Creative Life Force, that some call God, Spirit, Source, Buddha, Brahma, Great Spirit, Goddess, or Quantum Consciousness.

    As I look back on my life, I see that every unpleasant job experience and every spirit breaking experince I’ve been through, has been an opportunity to know myself more fully, to go within to see what within me is calling for healing.

    It is from going within that I connect with my inner wisdom that guides me to the truth of myself and empowers me to move forward toward something greater, something new that Great Spirit has in store for me, where I can share my gifts and strengths in a way that not only blesses me, but all those around me.

    By looking back on these spirit breaking events, I can see the gifts they were along my path to propel me forward into a greater expression of me, and I am grateful for all of them, no matter how painful, because they have shaped me into the person I am today!

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