I really hate my job, I have just returned after furlough and nothing has changed. But the thought of change, re-writing my CV, going through interviews, trial shifts and rejection makes me really anxious, so that’s why I stay. My confidence has been really damaged since I started in my job two years ago and to be frank – my managers are arseholes. I just don’t want to find a new job and for this to happen all over again. I would be grateful for your thoughts…

I’m sorry to learn that your job is having such a negative impact on you. Toxic places of work can be so emotionally complex and have a weird hold over us for all sorts of reasons. As with any transition, break-up, shift in identity or resignation, once our confidence has been knocked it can take us a while to process it and be ready to put ourselves out there again. There are establishments that unfortunately operate in such a way, however there are many that don’t and do treat their staff well. I don’t know the exact ins and outs of your experience but I’d like to remind you that you do have the choice to leave. They do not own you. I know that there’s the belief that ‘we should be just grateful to have a job’, in a challenging climate, however, I would strongly advise placing more value on your welfare and suggest that you don’t waste anymore of your precious energy there. You deserve better.


Let me highlight to you (and anyone else reading this) that if a place of work is sending your confidence plummeting southbound and your suffering outweighs your happiness in a job then THAT IS NOT NORMAL NOR HEALTHY. Feeling like you are unable to leave and are not good enough to work anywhere else (so you stay unhappy and feeling helpless) is very similar to Stockholm Syndrome. This may sound extreme but some of it may resonate with you (and others).


In a Stockholm Syndrome situation, the captor eats away at the self-esteem of the captive. Those trapped in soul destroying / toxic jobs like this, are exposed to an environment which destroys confidence and the self-worth of those within it. If you aren’t thriving at work then that is A LOT of your waking time feeling trapped somewhere you don’t want to be. On top of that, there’s a constant feeling of failure and that makes it harder to actually explore other opportunities and many feel unable to escape. Fears around not being able to find another job, the same salary or worries about receiving ill-treatment elsewhere are common. This is because you have learned to believe that it must be your fault or that you aren’t good enough and everywhere else must be as bad or worse. You may say to yourself “It must be me…I should be able to cope…If I leave then I have failed.” Again, all very common. But the truth is that usually it’s more the fault of a detrimental working culture. Not because you are bad at your job.


The first real hurdle for most is getting a CV out there. Many find it really cringy as selling ourselves can be really uncomfortable. It’s hard enough thinking about our strengths and accomplishments in the privacy of our own mind, let alone allowing anyone else to hear it or read it! But think of it this way – it’s short term pain for long term gain. The thought of it is always worse than doing it, so just start it…get in front of your computer and create / update it. Need help? Fear not, find a CV template and ask a friend/ colleague/ old boss to help you get the wording right. I promise you that once you CV is complete and you start getting it out there, it will take away some of the anxiety away. You won’t feel as trapped because you know that you’re being proactive towards creating opportunity for yourself. Remember that nothing changes if nothing changes, so just doing something rather nothing really makes a difference. Once you start getting responses, that will help to pick your confidence up as you’ll realise you are way more skilled and employable than you think are.


Looking for a new job can be really uncomfortable and challenging, especially if your confidence has been bashed by a past or current place of work and change is understandably nerve-wracking as you can’t predict the outcome. I have listened to many clients who have been so worried about making a bad decision or being rejected that they ‘freeze’ and quit before they have even tried. However, some of that anxiety around change may actually be also excitement as you have decided that you want to find something better. In the words of Susan Jeffers – Feel the Fear and do it Anyway. You never know, maybe you’ll find an awesome place of work that appreciates you and nurtures your talent. You won’t know unless you take a leap of faith! Nothing is a bad decision if there is something learnt from the experience. Even with the job you’re at now, you have probably learnt a lot about what you don’t want in future and that is not a waste of time but a valuable lesson.


All the best xx





Hi Counteralk community,


You know that we’ve got you right? When you’re dealing with those big issues, you want someone who really gets it. Merly is an ex-chef, therapist, stress reduction coach and founder of @me_myself_inmind, which provides workshops, one-to-one therapy and group therapy for you incredible, hard-working, hard-caring people in the hospitality industry. Their mission is built around educating others on stress reduction techniques, mental health awareness and the importance of learning coping skills, emotional resilience and self awareness. Maybe you are working right now, or maybe you are at home learning to adjust. Those skills are still sorely needed to boost our wellbeing whatever we are up to.


Each week Merly is on hand to answer some of our community’s problems. If you would like to submit a problem, please email merly@countertalk.co.uk. All questions are completely confidential and kept 100% anonymous, now and always.



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