The recent news about Paula Deen, reminds me about my personal experiences with workplace bullying, which in my opinion where based on a combination of covert and overt racism.
I have not yet finished reading the allegations by Lisa Jackson, (a white former employee) against Paula Deen, but I can relate to that feeling of helplessness when you have gone above and beyond to do what you believe is the right thing and yet you are still scrutinized and villainized.
To be fair, I too have stood by and witnessed bullying happen to other co workers, but I was too caught up with my past trauma and feared getting involved. Yes, besides myself I have witnessed other people, (men and women, Black, Hispanic, White, etc) get bullied and psychologically mobbed in the workplace based on race, sex and ego.
It wasn’t until I had began witnessing others go through what I had gone through that one day I experienced an epiphany.
For those of us who have experienced workplace bullying to varying degrees we put up with it, because we didn’t have the right tools to deal with the bullying and the psychological mobbing.
When people find themselves in an undesirable situation for which they are completely unprepared for, they become emotionally stuck. This state of being emotionally stuck is usually expressed through a variety of mental health issues, most notably depression. Followed by some sort of an addiction to cope with the mental health issue.
I am glad that Paula is being held accountable by former employees, however her being fired by the food network means nothing. When bullies get punished, nothing changes for those on the receiving end of their antics. What is needed are tools that people can use to prepare and respond to bullying.
When I opened my private practice in 2009, I focused primarily on Anger Management, because even though I was with an employer at the time I enjoyed working for, I still had left over anger from my experiences with two previous employers. During what I considered to be my ordeal, my anger had become addictive. I only sought help after I realized that my anger was really an expression of my depression and for a long time it had alienated me from close friends and family.
In reading Lisa Jackson’s allegations against Paula Deen, I have experienced another epiphany.
One of the allegations in Ms Jackson’s allegations is that Black employees were made to use the back door to enter the establishment. Upon reading this, a question came to mind. Who in this day and age would agree to such rubbish?
The answer is simple, people who are fearful will agree to anything. As a therapist, I have a successful track record of teaching people to get past their fears and come up with solutions to their problems. My clients often thank me profusely after successful completion of treatment, for helping them with solving their problems. I will usually respond by reminding my clients that the only role I served was in helping them get past their fears, and that the rest was all their doing.
I am currently in the process of writing a book, which discusses the psychology of fear and evidence based practices for getting past fear and taking healthy risks in your life. The book will be published in a few months and will be available for a discount to subscribers of this blog.
In the meantime, I will continue to publish posts on brief tips for addressing every day mental health issues, my next post will be on how to become emotionally unstuck.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling and life coaching practice based in Tucson AZ.