We all have good weeks and bad weeks.

When I worked in the Child Protection unit, I was overseen by an incompetent manager who absolutely despised me!

As I was a people pleaser by nature, I took pride in putting the needs of others first – even at the expense of my own wellbeing.

Despite trying my hardest my manager always found something wrong, and this was killing me.  I’d experienced the last nine months being told about all the things I was allegedly doing wrong and the pressure got to me – I got sloppy and began making mistakes for real.

This exploded at a point of being cornered in a room, taking abuse about my performance.

I wanted to escape – with a plan to resign the next day until two colleagues intervened and advised me to take time out to reflect and recover, allowing me to put things in perspective before I did anything too hasty.

That was over five years ago when a nasty bitch nearly broke me.

It’s my pleasure to say I overcame this threat, was able to escape my sociopath boss, building myself a nice life in the process, where I’ve jobs where my talents have been appreciated.

When you are put in this position how do you come back?

The answer?  Create a resilient “bulletproof” mindset…

What makes a good resilient person?

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes three attributes of what makes a good resilient person:

  • An acceptance of reality
  • Belief that life is meaningful
  • Able to improvise

When things came crashing down all these attributes applied to the next steps, I took to get myself back on track.

If you are facing a bad situation, why not try the following:

Honesty is the best policy…

Despite trying my best for a year to impress a manager who didn’t appreciate my potential, I finally accepted for whatever reason she didn’t like me.

Because of everything that had happened I knew there was no chance of rebuilding our professional relationship.

In reflection being more self-aware would have helped avoid reaching such a low point – admitting I was not happy in my job.

It can also mean facing harsh truths, being honest with myself I admitted I was being bullied by my female boss, which you can appreciate as a man, is harder to admit due to the ego involved!

By accepting a problem exists you can set plans to address them and/or move on.

Take a good look in the mirror…

The cause of the stress will keep reoccurring if you don’t know what the problem is.

When you follow the same routine everyday it’s hard to see the issue, hence when you do something different such as go on holiday, you reflect and realise what the issue is.

Sometimes it takes the intervention of a third party to realise the problem, or at least put you on the path to working out your own solution.  It took a visit to my doctor to realise I needed to work out my issues.

It’s good to talk…

Your support network is key – when you are suffering, don’t do it in silence.

I will forever be grateful to my work colleagues who were loyal to me, they stopped me from running and I was lucky to have the support of family who were prepared to listen and provide a relaxed environment to recover.

If you lack that network, there are multiple support lines you can call for advice or a listening ear.

The opinions of sheep…

The amount of time and energy spent wondering what people would think is an additional stress.  At the time I was worried what other work colleagues were saying about me.

The worry was for nothing – when I returned to the office I realised everyone was on my side, but regardless, to bounce back you need to stop caring about the opinions of others.

Take that time out – your wellbeing is your number one concern.

There will alway be people who judge your actions.  It’s about understanding that not everyone will like you and if they don’t – who cares that is there problem!

Find meaning…

When things go wrong your motivation is shot – you feel low, tired and little enthusiasm for anything.

This is why it is important that you find meaning in your life – remember what drives you, exercise, have hobbies, find something to look forward to, absorb motivating content or strive for further knowledge.

Before my sickness I planned to do an obstacle race.  During my two weeks off I made it my mission to defy anyone who ever doubted me – as a result I got my best time and best position in my obstacle racing career!.

On my return to work I was driven in my ambition to get my career back on track.

It’s in your interest to stay motivated if you want to move on.

In my situation, if I kept performing poorly I was not going to get the next job and eventually piss off colleagues who were still on my side.  It took me six months to get a new job, but during that time I gave a faultless performance.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself…

I was terrified to go back.

My two biggest fears was:

  1. What had people been saying about me while I was off
  2. Having to work with my manager again

When my sick note was close to expiring, I was tempted to try and get longer off work.

Deep down I knew I just avoiding the problem, as mentally I would never recover hundred percent until I was brave and faced my fears

This has been my approach to anything I fear ever since – don’t delay, just get it done with.

Look to the future…

The Harvard Business review article on resilience talks about ‘accepting life is meaningful’.  For me this is about establishing my reason for living.

During my sick leave I wrote a lot, I went to the gym, spent time reviewing and adding to my goals and focusing where I wanted my career to go.

To top of this dark time, there was brightness, I met my future wife the day before it all kicked off.

The thought of building a relationship with a woman I’d only just met gave me a renewed purpose to get through it.

When you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way left to go…

The whole situation hit me hard and honestly, it was the lowest point of my life.

I was depressed and lost.  And yet I had a glimmer of optimism – when you hit rock bottom you can only go up.

Wherever you are in life, keep on fighting – you’ve got this.

Further reading

This was based on my own perspectives and experience of being resilient in a bad situation, however they following article are some additional extra useful reads that influenced the content of this post:

Resilient People – A guide to workplace bullying

Redkite Project – Workplace Bullying: An Act of War Threatening the Health and Safety of Your Employees

inequilibrium – Resilience and the growth mindset

Psychology Today – The Six Stages of Workplace Bullying

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10 thoughts on “7 Approaches to Develop a Bulletproof Mindset When Facing Adversity

  1. My approach is to let out my emotions and always focus on the good. I don’t necessarily believe in a ‘bulletproof’ mindset, because after all we’re all humans and we need that emotional outlet. In an adversity, I turn inwards, ground myself and remind myself of all the good things I have going on in my life. I’d be interested to know what you think now of your manager and that ”’nasty bitch”’?
    In hindsight, I find it is very rarely the fault of others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting! Getting out your emotions is a massive help, I know with the personal story I shared with my post my big breakthrough was talking about what had happened with work colleagues, as originally I was just dealing with it alone and about to walk out.

      Thanks for asking, as you can imagine the incident and the person in question is someone who I have had many years to think about.

      In reflection, there were a lot of the clues leading up to that situation and I realise that my manager also had a lot of personal problems, which I probably should have been more aware of, and being a bit kinder in my attitude towards her.

      For example – we never had a great relationship from early on, she seemed to take issue with me because I was ambitious and wanted to do more and I once made a comment that I wouldn’t date a woman who was older than me with a massive age difference, which I realise wasn’t very wise as I think it triggered her own insecurities (being older and recently divorced), therefore I do have deep regrets about that.

      Overall I don’t have much anger with her anymore, feeling more sorry for her than anything. It prompted me to move on and improve my life, so in many ways I should be thanking her!

      Thank you for commenting, really appreciate your comment and interest in the post.


  2. They say things happen for a reason, and maybe your experience with this awful boss was the only route to you finding better things that were hidden, James? I went through a similar experience and dreaded going back to face the music (as I called it). However, with the help of a few others, I summoned up the courage of going back to work and was surprised by the results and what the whole situation had taught me. Things were better on the other side, but the route to finding out had been rocky.


    1. That’s correct Hugh, in many ways I’m grateful because it was a trigger to move on in a relationship I knew was pretty toxic from the start, but never was self-aware enough to admit it.

      The help of others certainly helps, it was easier going back knowing that (most) the people I worked with supported me, I probably would have stuck around for longer if I didn’t have that awful manager!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous post. Life lessons especially the hardest are the best. May be not during the pain. But they provide a turning point, a growing up, a realisation like no other. I have my share of bosses and I do not think I will ever figure out why. But the lesson and how I changed and grew was so needed.

    Great post and great tips and examples. Really great post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. It was really difficult at the time and I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to get through.

      In many ways I’m glad it happened because it drove me to many better things.

      Liked by 1 person

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