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Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on May 20,2009
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Hi Merrily,
I could use your advice. I work for a family owned business as a sales rep and have done well in my 3½ years there. My problem is that the work environment is extremely negative. The son of the owner just became CEO.  He feels that the best way to “inspire” people is to put them down, intimidate them, threaten to fire them and yell. He is very degrading to the employees, most of whom are women. The company already had a backstabbing, competitive environment where everyone spent their days either not speaking or complaining about how much they hated the company – now the morale is worse.

The bigger problem is that I have not been able to find a new job. Every day I go to work with a pit in my stomach like I’m being called to the principal’s office. It’s beginning to affect my health. How can I make a bad situation tolerable until I find a new job?

Dear Frustrated,

Being trapped in a negative situation with unhappy co-workers and a bullying boss is very stressful, which is hard on the immune system.

Restoring your sense of personal empowerment can make it more tolerable.  Try these simple but effective tools.

First, brainstorm details of the new job you intend to create.  Include a positive work environment with dedicated co-workers and an inspirational, effective boss.  Describe the job in lavish detail, leaving no stone unturned.  

Second, accept the challenge to become the calm in the storm.  Establish a daily practice before and after work (10–20 min) doing something you enjoy – breathe consciously, meditate, write, walk, sing.  If you commute to work, that time might be used.  

Committed and continued practice will bring to light the energy co-workers are wasting in bullying, complaining, and backstabbing.  Conserve your own energy by breathing consciously and focusing on your work.  

Third, everyday be aware of at least three things in your life for which you are truly grateful.  Gratitude is empowering, especially during difficult times.

These tools will restore sleep and relieve the stress, which is affecting your health.     

Please let me know as your feelings of stress and empowerment come into healthier relationship.

Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks in Alexandria, VA. Email questions to, or use online form at

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