The Empowered Employee

Not Ready To Forgive? Go From Bitter To Better Anyway!

Janice White

Not ready to forgive those that hurt you at work? That doesn’t mean you can’t experience freedom from your pain and return to enjoying life again!

Forgiveness can be a touchy subject for those of us that have experienced workplace abuse, especially when the cruel actions of others have altered our life in so many ways. Adding to the difficulty is that workplace bullying targets seldom, if ever, receive acknowledgment from the ones that caused so much harm.

So, the question becomes, when we aren’t able to forgive, can we still experience the physical and emotional benefits of forgiveness?

I believe we can.

To Forgive or Not to Forgive…That Doesn’t Have to Be The Question

When forgiveness feels like an impossible obstacle to overcome, there’s an option of just not using the word at all. In fact, during my studies of forgiveness, I’ve found that replacing the word with letting go, releasing a grievance, or as workplace bullying expert David Yamada puts itgetting unstuckcan help tremendously.

After all, forgiveness isn’t the only measure of success in overcoming our hurtful situations. It’s also the ability to move on to a healthy, productive, and meaningful life again.

So, how can we go from bitter to better?

Below were the top three phases I went through that seemed to naturally decrease my anger towards those that hurt me.

Phase 1 – Putting A Period at The End Of This Chapter

I remember getting together with a dear friend months after leaving my job. He patiently listened to the same, familiar rant of how unjustly I’d been treated by those I’d trusted. As our time together came to a close, he very lovingly said to me,

“My friend, the sooner you put a period at the end of this chapter, the sooner you can start a new one.”

As I walked away, I began to see that the constant replay of my workplace abuse story was only increasing my anger, hurt and resentment. Every day I focused on the pain others caused me was one day further from creating my new life.

As difficult as it seemed to be, I set out with an immediate intention of closing out this chapter. I found that by setting a realistic time frame, conducting research to validate my experience, and writing down my story, I was able to stop obsessively thinking about my event.

Little did I know that completing this first phase allowed me to be emotionally ready for the next phase…

Phase 2 – Taking the Event Less Personally

First, let me be clear, taking the event less personally doesn’t mean that it wasn’t personal. It surely was. But I found that the further I was getting away from my own story and learning about others, the less personal it was all feeling.

Studying workplace bullying and reading about those that have survived life’s tragedies allowed me to:

  • See that I was not alone in my suffering – Millions of others were in similar situations.
  • Understand other’s actions – How behavior can be influenced by upbringing and personality disorders – but also how good people can act poorly when influenced by those in power and by their need to survive and belong.
  • Realize that as my empathy increased, my pain decreased – There was always someone who had suffered more than I had and witnessing their ability to overcome filled me with hope.

Gradually, I found myself now open to the most powerful phase of all…

Phase 3 – Finding Gratitude In The Midst Of Loss

One morning I came across a FB post I would soon not forget. The caption read,

Those that hurt us are at work today”

Underneath these words were a few photos of a man and his wife on a get-away following his own resignation due to workplace abuse.

FB post

Graeme and Linda Raine – Murchison River, Kalbarri, Western Australia

Time stood still as I lost myself gazing at the photos…The sweet embrace with his wife, the sun about to set behind them…the sense of freedom.

A while later, I would have my own epiphany. As I glanced out my window to the snow storm outside, my soul connected to the realization that if it hadn’t been for those that hurt me, I would still be working long hours instead of being cozy in my home. That instead of the sound of upset customers, I was hearing the giggles of my children. Where before my cups of coffee had gone cold, now I could enjoy them hot.

In that moment, I felt the healing that gratitude could bring. I learned that negative feelings can be replaced with positive ones and being grateful had the power to cancel out resentment.

From Bitter to Better

I dedicate this post to my friend, Graeme Raine – whose post on FB that day helped me see the possibility of moving on and finding peace in my own life. This man shined a light that reached a woman half way around the world in her darkest hour…my hope is to do that for you.

So, when you’re ready for what this life has waiting for you, I hope you’re able to put a period at the end of this painful chapter. That you can embrace other’s stories in order to take your hurtful situation less personally. And that you can begin to find gratitude, starting with even the smallest things. For I have found, that whether you are ready to forgive or not, you CAN go from bitter to better.

And, someday you and I may even find ourselves in a place unimaginable at the present moment…a place of unexpected forgiveness.

Wherever you are in your career, I wish you success, peace, but most of all, good health.

Janice XO

If you are new to my writing, please visit me at or on FB at The Empowered Employee


  • reply

    Wow, Janice – I LOVE how you write about your experience. Your voice has so much heart, is so relatable and we are just seeing the beginnings of an amazing career ahead. Your blog and FB presence have all the early hallmarks of a runaway success.

    Certainly you ARE already touching lives – as far away as here in WA! I hope you get to visit one day and meet ALL the people whose lives you have touched – including my own clients with workplace bullying issues who I refer to your blog all the time!

    January 12, 2019
  • reply

    Graeme Raine

    Hi Janice,
    Another well written blog you do have a way with words. If not what happened to both of us we would have never met on the Internet.

    Just an update on the photo. Since resigning and that photo was about a month later I now work for a great CEO a lovely supportive management team and fantastic co-workers in mental health. A job I did not even know existed so at 61 years old I changed career!

    I love getting up to go to work again. My new manager last year gave me six months away from my work, holding my job open so we could travel around Australia with a caravan.

    Forgiveness to me seems to put a responsibility onto the bullied worker I see no need for this to be a focus to move on. It may or may not come later as gratitude overtakes the hurt.

    I hope others can find the pathway to becoming better. It is a tough place to be and you are in a supportive place here.

    January 14, 2019
  • reply

    Jill Rodriguez

    After catching up on your blog posts, I am going to listen to my friends differently as they complain about their jobs (which so often is the case). I will be able to read between the lines and maybe not only offer my attention and words of encouragement, but some sold resources and better questions to help reveal if workplace bullying is the root cause. Whether or not you have been personally affected by workplace bullying, we can all have eyes and ears on the street to support the fight against and bring awareness to this growing problem. Thanks for opening my eyes, Janice!

    January 24, 2019
  • reply

    Michael Lapointe

    Hmm … no I haven’t forgiven those who bullied me back in 2011 but for the most part I’ve had let that go due to time and then going through another bout of bullying over the past 3 years. I don’t have too much hard feelings about my 2nd bullying experience since I immediately recognized it for what it was back in 2016. Still I tried to make it work … getting around my employer’s fragile ego and trying to convince him that I had worthwhile ideas on the job. I won’t get into details because I quit that job in May 2020 … I don’t have any more time to waste on such trivial BS in appeasing a bully’s ego.

    Before I took that job in September 2016, I had a heart attack on April 25th, 2016 … a rare heart condition that usually happens to women; Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. My heart was clear … no plaque … but what was happening was my determination to ‘get back’ at those who wronged me in 2011 who bullied and fired me from my 6 figure income. STRESS caused the heart attack. 5 years of turmoil and struggle led to mental health problems and chronic health conditions; diabetes 2 in February 2015, SCAD heart attack in April 2016, and psoriatic arthritis in May 2016. After my SCAD, I had to rethink how I was approaching my memories and feelings of 2011. Still couldn’t forgive… I was under a non-disclosure agreement and the municipality refused to lift those NDAs that literally dozens were forced to sign (sign or get no severance package … I was given 3 days to decide) under duress. So I decided to ‘let it go’ for the sake of my own heart literally. I certainly had a good example of a baseline toxic environment after that. The experience also taught me a lot on how to recognize toxic relationships and how to not simply accept them. I am certainly more forthright and even more a no-BS kind of person because I’m fighting for my health. Bad experiences with leadership still threaten to trigger my illnesses. The trauma is engrained … I’ve accepted that the employers of 2011 and 2016 don’t give a s**t about my health but I do care. That’s why I try to keep my power now and not give it away to bullies no matter how hard I may initially try to make it work in a toxic workplace. Health trumps all. No health means no life. Still dealing with engrained trauma … the more I dig … the more I discover what other factors have affected my mental health besides my bullying incident. So you see, it was a blessing in disguise. Far from fully recovered but I’m still better off today.

    September 14, 2020
  • reply

    Allen Chan

    Regarding Phase 2, we need to acknowledge this type of bullying is injurious to our mental and physical health. I think we should reframe these experiences to being like an attack by a pack of wolves or other wild beasts. We would feel no regret or shame if we survived and escaped from their assault.

    October 9, 2020

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