God made me with Love and for Love.

I love myself.

I don't compete with anyone for love.

I am enough!

I am unique and special.

Love does not hurt or damage my self-esteem or make me endure pain.

I am enough!


Only good relationships are worth keeping.

I don't invest in one-sided, draining relationships.

I walk away from toxic tyrants.

I am enough!


Pain fades and goes away. Only True Love is forever.

I know my values deeply and activate them daily.

I am strong, resilient, desirable, talented, beautiful, intelligent, caring.

I am enough!


I treat myself with self-acceptance and love.

I treat others with respect, care, and concern.

I am enough!


Many clients presenting for consultation at my practice are coping with such a major and life-altering transition as divorce. Divorce rates are on the rise once again.

A new statistical growth trend has been found among the 50 and older demographic group, although clearly divorce does occur at any life stage and posits complex psychological dilemmas.

I first became interested in the issue of coping with divorce during my graduate studies and spent several semesters doing formal research which culminated in the publication of a thesis. A particular research angle I pursued at the time had to do with understanding the so-called “attributional styles” and their impact on post-divorce outcomes in terms of well-being of my research subjects. Attributional styles (internal versus external) appear to be closely connected with how individuals perceive the impact of divorce on their lives and how they cope with it.

While it is outside the scope of the present article to address the mechanism of internal and external attribution in depth, I will mention that the internal style (consistent with an abiding belief in one’s own internal resources and resilience) is closely linked to adaptive navigation of divorce and thriving in the subsequent chapters of one’s life.

Divorce entails different meanings and “rites of passage” for men and women. There are many individual (and situational) variables that therapists review with clients and take into account when developing a treatment plan and formulating our recommendations for clients.

Both genders experience multiple challenges associated with being divorced. One such challenge is the loss of a support network when allegiance to mutual friends becomes impossible and friends are “divided”. Divorced individuals may experience a type of stigmatization and shame not known to their married/never married counterparts.

Divorce contributes to social isolation and development of depression and other mental health issues. In this context, seeking therapy means that you finally get someone “in your corner”, someone on your side, someone who will accept you unconditionally and treat you as an individual of infinite value and dignity. This is a welcome reprieve from the less-than-dignified ordeal of divorce.

Many individuals who have experienced divorce have also experienced untreated and unaddressed depression and anxiety, among other conditions (yes, for some it’s even PTSD). This often happens because there is further (and arguably deeper) stigma attached to being “mentally ill” in our society than simply divorced. This “double whammy” of an experience, however, is without a doubt amenable to therapeutic intervention. The earlier one seeks therapy, the brighter the prognosis. This is because recurrent and severe depression often needs a higher level of care than a single depressive episode. In general, depression (so-called “Major Depressive Disorder”) is diagnosed based on the totality of presented symptoms over but a two-week period of time. A “typical” divorce, however, lasts at least several months, to create a context for this particular diagnosis.

In search of becoming whole again, so to speak, individuals have to re-learn about autonomy: learning to thrive and develop without a spouse to lean on (and also without anyone to blame!). In the post-divorce expanse, individuals learn to rebuild their self-esteem, properly grieve their losses, adaptively disentangle from ongoing conflict, manage their deep anger, heal the hurt feelings, treat any depression, and rebuild social relationships, including the pursuit of new romantic interests.

The experience of being in therapy will undoubtedly be different for everyone. There are multiple variables at play. Firstly, “the chemistry” between you and your therapist is very important (Do you believe you are a good team together? Is there a “goodness of fit”?). Secondly, your understanding of your role and responsibilities while in therapy will weigh heavily (Are you willing to work hard or do you expect to just sit comfortably and have the therapist “talk at you” for an hour instead?). Thirdly, the strength of your commitment to the therapeutic process (understanding that a “quick fix” is not a realistic expectation and is simply not forthcoming, in spite of any wishes for one). This is only a short list of some of the “ingredients” that make for a successful therapeutic alliance (or, conversely, make you want to change your mind about therapy: “Do I have to?....”).

Therapy is not for everyone! This means that unless you are prepared to experience and tolerate uncomfortable (and sometimes painful and devastating) thoughts and feelings that accompany this ultimately healing process, you may perceive yourself as being unjustly victimized. This frequently happens when introspection is not a forte or when it’s just “not your style”: you tell yourself you are more of a “doer” and not a “thinker” or “feeler”. Another area of discomfort may arise when your therapist “confronts” you and your embedded thought patterns that you take for granted because you consider them your very foundation, your “bedrock” structure.

Overall, psychotherapy is not a “fun” experience, unlike, let’s say, karaoke or camping. I am being facetious, but this is an important disclosure about this process, which for many, in spite of the discomfort, ends up being extremely rewarding.

Divorce is a difficult and exhausting process. You may be alone in your suffering, silently yet needlessly. Do reach out for help! It will take some courage to admit that some things are just too difficult to manage by yourself. There is no shame in having depression or going through divorce and taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal to help you survive and thrive again!

Let's talk about an insidious problem in the workplace nowadays: the problem of bullying and mobbing!

www.pexels.com/CC0 License

Organizational bullying and mobbing have been well-studied since the 1970’s. Closely tied in with the constructs of incivility and harassment, bullying and mobbing represent a very harmful expression of human interactions in the work setting.

Generally defined as long-lasting hostile, humiliating, and intimidating behaviors meant to psychologically harm the target, bullying and mobbing leave deep scars and a trail of tears for the victims (Branch et al., 2013). Cumulative effects of being bullied and mobbed invariably lead to profound losses for the employees on the receiving end, as well as the organizations that employ them. (Nielsen et al., 2015).

One’s work and professional identity are very important dimensions of one’s being, and any damage to such represents a loss of identity to a large extent (Duffy & Sperry, 2007). Employees who are subjected to bullying and mobbing may thus experience a complete loss of control over their lives, due to a profound adverse impact on their identity, health, career path, family, recreation.

There is a spillover of the severe anxiety and sadness to one's life outside of work. It's hard to be emotionally available to one's significant other, children, friends, etc., when one's emotional resources are depleted while coping with the onslaught of a bully's evil agenda at work. In severe cases of bullying and mobbing, one goes on to suffer long-term adverse effects.

There is a strong relationship between organizational bullying and mobbing with employee psychological and physical wellbeing. Symptomatology-wise, targets of bullying and mobbing often report insomnia, anxiety, depressed mood, apathy, fatigue, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, social withdrawal and isolation, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, difficulty concentrating, crying, and hopelessness. Sadly, there are some cases of suicide as well.

At the same time, the effects may be physical: sweating, shaking, difficulty breathing, experiencing gastrointestinal distress, ulcers, IBS, dizziness, hypertension, chest pains, heart attacks, strokes, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

Sick leaves due to bullying are common, while HR thinks they just have an employee out with a cold. Substance abuse is also very common in these scenarios, as seeking to anesthetize one's emotional pain is a natural thought when in daily distress from bullying. As a clinician, I get to see the trajectory of bullying leading up to alcohol or any number of substances on the job as part of my daily patient intake profiles.

Most organizations scramble to recover from low morale, a “brain-drain”, loss of creativity, disengagement, employee sick time off spent attending to the psychological or physical ill-effects, legal defense costs, and the costs of advertising, recruiting, interviewing, and re-staffing to help close the receding ranks.

In some severe cases, neither the organization, nor the affected employees completely recover from the damage sustained to their reputations. Some large media companies, for instance, have been all over the news this year due to bullying and harassment scandals, now seeking to disavow their high-ranking bullies and harassers who were once in positions of power. Can they completely erase or rewrite the history, though?

Large or small, such organizations run the risk of being wiped out by competition that may have a superior anti-harassment policy that is not only posted in the cafeteria but activated on a daily basis from the offices of its highest-ranking executives who set an example of justice and fair treatment for all.

While bullying and mobbing do not necessarily involve perpetrators with a defined psychopathological profile, there is an increased incidence of narcissistic employees as bullies, indoctrinating those who work there with a perverted brand of interacting, and occasionally those that fit psychopathy spectrum criteria. (Boddy, 2006, 2011).

Both “everyday” bullies and full-blown narcissists tend to defy ethical standards of doing business, established social values, norms of civility and morality, thereby representing a departure from company mission, vision and ethics (very humane and lofty at inception).

Bullies hijack their organizational unit with their own agenda of self-elevation and psychological subjugation of those they perceive as their targets, destroying employee wellbeing and organizational morale in the process.

Bullying zaps both optimal cognitive functioning needed to "just" do the job right, but also renders any creative effort null and void, as the brain churns on empty trying to process what is going on. (Porath & Pearson, 2013)

It is not easy for victimized employees to reach out and talk to others about the hurt and sadness inflicted by the bully. HR departments or EAP networks are not the first thoughts that the victims have when in the throes of the abuse.

Most companies do have robust EAP resources, and workers need to be informed of the exact protections they have while accessing the resource. There needs to be a discussion around the specific confidentiality laws that are on their side. HR practitioners would benefit from disseminating EAP-related brochures to where they are easy to find at work. Calling and setting up appointments should also be an easy process for someone who is emotionally wiped out by the psychological onslaught of bullies at work.

If employers and HR departments are earnest in their effort to gather pertinent information and do something about a maladaptive organizational climate that supports bullying, then surely new ways of gathering data about the real, not presumed, organizational climate would spring up via a creative and collaborative process involving all employees.

References

Boddy, C.R. (2006). The Dark Side of Management Decisions: Organisational Psychopaths.

Management Decision, 44(10), 1461-1475.

Boddy, C.R. (2011). Corporate Psychopaths, Bullying and Unfair Supervision in the Workplace. Journal of Business Ethics, 367-379.

Branch, S., Ramsay, S., & Barker, M. (2013). Workplace Bullying, Mobbing and General Harassment: A Review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15, 280–299.

Brown, T., Sautter, J., Littvay, L., Sautter, A., & Bearnes, B. (2010). Ethics and Personality:

Empathy and Narcissism as Moderators of Ethical Decision Making in Business

Students. Journal of Education For Business, 85, 203–208

Duffy, M., & Sperry, L. (2007). Workplace mobbing: Individual and family health

consequences. The Family Journal, 15, 398–404.

Graham, J., Nosek, B., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S, & Ditto, P. (2011). Mapping the Moral

Domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 366–385.

Haji, I. (2009). Psychopathy, Ethical Perception, and Moral Culpability. Published online: 12

September 2009: Springer Science.

Hoel, H., Faragher, B., & Cooper, C. (2004). Bullying is detrimental to health, but all bullying

behaviours are not necessarily equally damaging. British Journal of Guidance &

Counselling, 32(3), 367-387.

Myyrya, L., Juujärvib, S., & Pessob, K. (2010). Empathy, perspective taking and personal values as predictors of moral schemas. Journal of Moral Education, 39(2), 213–233.

Nielsen, M. B., Nielsen, G. H., Notelaers, G., Einarsen, S. (2015). Workplace Bullying and Suicidal Ideation: A 3-Wave Longitudinal Norwegian Study. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 23-28.

Porath, C., & Pearson, C. (2013). https://hbr.org/2013/01/the-price-of-incivility

Skinner, N.F. (1988). Personality Correlates of Machiavellianism: Machiavellianism and the

Psychopath. Social Behavior and Personality, 16(1), 33-37.

Son Hing, L., Bobocel, D., Zanna, M., McBride, M. (2007). Authoritarian Dynamics and

Unethical Decision Making: High Social Dominance Orientation Leaders and High Right-Wing Authoritarianism Followers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(1), 67–81.

Xu, X., Yu, F., & Shi, J. (2011). Ethical Leadership and Leaders’ Personalities. Social Behavior

and Personality, 39(3), 361-368.

1
2