I had a client today who came in complaining of stress. She said that she was grinding her teeth at night. And much more worrying to her she had got into the habit of drinking a bottle of wine each night when she got home from work.
She said that she had an unhappy childhood. She could never do anything right, according to her mother. Her mother always made her feel like a failure. For most of her life she had low self esteem. But after she got out of her home situation and began working as an engineer, her life took a better turn, and she felt on top of things.
Workplace bullying and Stress
After some discussion it became clear that these feelings had really only come back in the last three years. It coincided with the appointment of a particular man in her consultancy group. This guy was loud, boisterous, domineering and bullied anyone he could. My client is the only female engineer in the company. And he set out to diminish her at every opportunity.
The company is aware of this guy's behavior. But her immediate boss is afraid to take any action in case he upsets the overseas controlling company who appointed this guy in the first place.
Workplace bullying and emotional stress
The result is that she goes home and feels bad, and can't see any way out of this. So she opens up her bottle of wine, and once started on that, she can't stop. A real fear is that she will end up like her father, an alcoholic.
So she is locked in this cycle of being constantly bullied at work, which opens up feelings of childhood abuse, which gives her stress, and she drinks to alleviate the stress.
The obvious answer is to get rid of the bully. She is not in a position to do that. She said that her current boss is due to be replaced in a few weeks with a female manager. She has met this woman, and feels that together they can address the problem of the bully.
Workplace bullying and self-hypnosis
We discussed various options but the best one seemed to be to just stick it out until the new manager arrives. In the meantime, I taught her self-hypnosis. By using self-hypnosis she would be able to prevent the stress from building up during the day. So that when she came home at night she wasn't totally stressed out. Even if she did feel stressed on getting home, she would be able to go into trance rather than disappearing into a bottle.
Too many times I see clients who are suffering because of someone else's actions. As in this case, usually there is very little that the therapist can do except try to stop the situation getting worse.