Friday, July 25, 2008

The Toxic Cop

Have you ever had to experience the toxic co-worker? You know, the one who is chronically sour, rude or hostile. It’s an unpleasant affair. But, what if that person is an active duty police officer? Now you have a malcontent with a gun. First this from psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith:

When you have toxic people around you, it's hard to feel good about life. They tend to wear you out with their negative actions and words. Judith Orloff, M.D., author of "Positive Energy," describes them as "energy vampires." The term makes sense, since toxic people can suck the life out of you. 1

A toxic person in the home is disastrous, but what if the person is a co-worker?

Dealing with toxic energy at work is almost as bad. You may find yourself taking on more than your fair share, just to keep away from someone else's negativity or to avoid being emotionally beaten up. Sometimes, it seems, all you can do is keep a low profile and dream of retirement. If it's causing you to feel physically ill, you may want to consider looking at other options. 1

Hmmmm, sounds like a hostile work environment.

In my schizoid world, I have one foot in the touchy-feely world of massage and energy, and the other foot in the touch-phobic, testosterone laden law enforcement world. That means that half of my professional world does not comport with the other half.

I can tell you from personal experience that negative energy is a real phenomenon. People exude negative energy even when not manifesting other overt symptoms.

There were times, when I first became a massage therapist, in which I failed to properly ground myself energetically. The end result was that I sometimes ended the giving of a massage session feeling as if I had been run over by a train. Once while working on a client, my forearms physically burned as if a flame had been applied to them. The burning sensation immediately vanished when the lady left my table. But, I remained a mess until I got some energetic cleansing the next day. One of my energy therapists said, “Boy, someone dumped a load on you.” That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think?

OK, so I bet that most everyone has experienced the malevolence of a co-worker. There was this character that I considered my nemesis. It got so that I would mutter a swearword under my breath every time I saw the grouch. That is, I did it until I realized that by doing so I was giving him the power to make me miserable. I then changed my mental imaging and refused to reinforce the negativity. Instead, I forced myself to be pleasant and to cheerfully greet him. I think it drove him nuts, and it made me feel better. I will admit, however, that I was happy to see him retire. No loss there.

When you deal with toxic people on a regular basis, you have to find the inner strength to cope. It can help to understand that you don't have to sink to someone else's level or leave town to make things better. Simply committing to yourself that you won't let someone else disturb your internal calm can work wonders. 1

My former co-worker, Mr. Grouch, didn’t appear to have the potential to go “postal.” That’s not always the case. I know of another person, an armed police officer, who is thought to be “psycho” by his law enforcement co-workers. He is described: as visibly hostile; exudes negative energy; has an explosive temper; holds grudges; is confrontational; and has the confidence of self-righteousness. This guy appears to be taking toxic to a potentially lethal level.

“There are those who get ulcers and those who give ulcers.” That’s a psychiatrist’s generalization according to Dr. Steven Marmer on Dennis Prager’s 7/25/08 radio show. According to Marmer, a member of the clinical faculty at the UCLA School of Psychiatry and a psychiatrist in private practice in Brentwood, CA., “The person with the most demons is the one giving the ulcers.”

To combat negative energy, Goldsmith recommends:

It also helps to keep some physical distance. A good rule of thumb is to maintain at least 3 feet of space between you and the offending party. The physically closer you are to toxic energy, the easier it is to be affected by it. 1
Three feet? I wouldn’t want to be within thirty feet of the “psycho.” And, I wouldn’t want him at my back either since I would be more fearful of flying lead than negative energy.

Workplace violence is not a comfortable thought. When a co-worker, who is hated by the ulcer giver, mentioned that while in the office he is keeping his gun close-at-hand, that told me something. Forewarned is forearmed.

Link in this Blog:

1. Dealing with toxic energy

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