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Hi all I’m new to this forum but desperately needed someone to talk to and to offload. It may sound trivial to some but my issue is that I have a really bad problem with crippling anxiety around what others think of me. It’s something I really struggle with to the point that it’s taken over my life. 

I’m 36 years old and have a great family and a great life and growing up perhaps in till I was around 23 I didnt care what irrelevant people thought of me, I had this confidence that made the opinions of others insignificant, I just enjoyed my life and concentrated on my family friends and my own business. Since I was about 23 I have had a number of significant traumatic experiences that happened in my life related to family Illness and death, which left me feeling really vulnerable and because of these experiences I never really ever had time to concentrate on me, I’ve spent much of the past ten years or so looking after other people and although I have no regrets and although I’m not blaming these events, my mental health has definately suffered somewhat because of it. Over this time And through feeling low I have at some point  started really worrying what other people think about me. 
 
 I am a really nice person and always consider others and I put people before myself yet I always end up feeling so disappointed and let down by people and the way they treat me. Not many people seem to treat me the same way , and I feel like sometimes people think they can treat me and talk to me however they want . It’s just not in me to be deliberately nasty to people but I keep thinking perhaps I am too nice to others and need to start being a bit mor confident . Maybe the struggles I have had in the last few years have made me not believe in myself anymore.

there is one woman in particular at my work who has never liked me since I started ere 3 years ago . She is a 54 year old very loud woman who basically lives her work with not a lot else going on but she is one of my managers. I have never been anything but decent to her and although she comes across decent to my face I have recently found out that she says not so nice things about me to other people with no reason , and has been keeping  a list of mistakes I’ve made at work as if to use them against me at a later date. she would say to me constantly when I first started ‘oh you’re so quiet, you’re so shy’ as if to try and make a fool of me or put me down. I am fairly quiet but by no means am I someone who will not speak to people or make friends. I feel like this woman is constantly looking for reasons to dislike me for no reason.she makes me feel really uncomfortable.  And I can tell from what she has said to others that I am not liked by her. I know I shouldnt care about this but for some reason it bugs me and I feel that I can’t be myself at work which is hard as I feel so tense at work every day to the point in making myself so stressed out  This woman is quite gossipy so I know I’m not the only one one she talks about as I have seen her being less than complimentary about others but it just really gets to me that she is trying to influence other peoples opinions of me aswell. Because she’s a boss I feel like she’s put on a pedestal but I am not willing to suck up to someone like this just to be liked. It’s causing me to feel really unhappy at work and I feel like I have lost all my confidence in myself. I feel lonely. I know that I should find the strength wishing myself to be more confident and forget what she thinks, but I am finding it really hard and it has really seems to affect me. 
 

I want to be able to let go of this worry now , any advice would be greatly appreciated . I know opinions are a dime a dozen but I’ve went from a girl who didn’t give a crap what others thought to letting other people’s opinions consume me and I don’t want to be this person any more. Any ( kind) comments/help/ advice would be welcome 🙏 

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36 minutes ago, Yourstruely33 said:

there is one woman in particular at my work who has never liked me since I started ere 3 years ago . 

Sorry this is happening. Who is telling you what she says behind your back?  It seems like you are unhappy with the workplace and with this particular unprofessional boss.

Start updating your resume. Check out Indeed, LinkedIn and other job sites. See what else is out there.

Try not to globalize what one workplace bully is doing.

How is your home life? Do you have good friends and family to talk to? Do you spend leisure time doing things you enjoy? Do you spend time outdoors? Pursue interests, hobbies and sports?

Make sure your life outside of work is satisfying.

In the meantime ignore office gossip. Read up on dealing with difficult people at work (they'll always be there) and be straight forward and confident.

Consider going to a physician for your overall health. Address the depression and anxiety. Ask for a referral to a therapist.

Unfortunately it's hard to deal with office bullies. Keep your outside life happy. Look for other work opportunities.

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I enjoyed the website askamanager.com  - really great advice for your particular work situation. I am 54 - no longer a boss because I reduced to part time because I have a son who was born when I was 42- it was really really hard when I was a boss in my 30s and early 40s - and at that time I had a boss in her 50s who was like you described - so much so that I saved some really nasty emails she wrote to me in case I needed them later.  She mocked me on my first day of work for declining to go on a rocky boat trip with colleagues (was afraid of getting sick plus I didn't know in advance and would have been roasting in my formal suit lol) - and it went downhill from there.  My best guess is it was because she was in a very unhappy marriage -she divorced and apparently became much nicer/more pleasant.  But it was awful.  

My advice - you want this job -then yes at work suck up to her - we've all done it, it's just work - or get a new job but sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.  It's work.  Compartmentalize and I suggest counselling to learn how to do that, get to the root of things.  If she is truly harassing you then go to HR -otherwise keep your nose down, do your work, tune out her silly comments/ gossip.  Sorry if that's an unpopular opinion.  Jobs are hard to come by right now!

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Do you have friends you can call up and dish things out with? There are all kinds out there. Please don't let this one manager get to you. If the culture there at your workplace is toxic, make plans to leave. It may not be instant but you'll be ready when the right opportunity comes up. 

I am very sorry for all the things you've been through including the loss of any family members. Have you looked into grief counselling? We carry those wounds sometimes not knowing that they're still affecting us. 

What stood out to me was the way you described yourself: "I am a really nice person and always consider others and I put people before myself". This to me describes a person who is unsure of being assertive or vocal of she needs to for fear of appearing something other than 'a nice person'. The quicker you accept some unpleasant situations and that unpleasant people are a part of life the less pressure you'll keep putting on yourself to be 'a nice person' 100% of the time. 

This may sound mundane and irrelevant but I'd try this if you have nothing to do. Go back and think of the time someone criticized you and one of the first times you started to believe that you needed to be 'nice' to gain the respect of others. Why did you feel this way? Was it someone in a position of power? A doctor, a nurse, a manager from another job, an older sibling, a parent? 

You have low self-esteem and I think it's made worse by this workplace and this one manager whose comments are annoying you. What do you know about this manager also? Have you spoken with her one on one? Could those comments be offhand or misinterpreted? Is she ordinarily nasty or impolite? Do you have evaluations at work, yearly or quarterly for example? What are your other managers saying about you or your work? Try balancing things out between different managers or individuals. 

 

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One of the worst things to affect one's mood and emotions, is to be belittled by those around us 😞 .. I have had a cpl of those in my time.. Yes, they can make in impact.

If it is affecting your emotions/ performance, etc.. Can you not get out of there- from this inconsiderate woman?  - Who seems to have a lack of something of her own!

Like find a diff job elsewhere?  Maybe is just time for you to back out of there - where it's affecting you mentally 😞 

And if you do, I'd inform the head of the company how she is.

Meanwhile... when you are home.. focus on your self love ❤️ .. Reassure yourself is just HER - and she is miserable, TRYING to look good.

 

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A few jobs ago, I was in a similar situation, except it wasn’t one of my managers that was the problem, it was my one and only direct supervisor. She put up a nice front, but those of us that worked under her knew that she was unprofessional, facilitated drama, and wasn’t above lying to us. For about the first year, I thought I was the problem. I couldn’t quite figure out how to meet her expectations, or what they even were. I couldn’t figure out how to stay out of drama that she insisted on continuously pulling me into.

After awhile, I started being more direct with her. I started telling her that her perception of me and several situations was not accurate. I refused to continue participating in conversations about baseless drama and “he said she said” information. She really started disliking me after that, but I didn’t care. I knew I wouldn’t be happy just being quiet and trying to navigate her crazy, so why not at least try to make change? Eventually, her supervisor decided that I’d report to him instead of her. After that happened, at my next annual review, he said to me “you’ve gone from being someone they were considering firing, to the strongest person on the team.” I just had to laugh, because I literally was doing nothing different. The only difference was the way I was being managed.

If you were outspoken and confident once, I’m sure you can find it within yourself again. Sharpening those skills will only help you in the long run. But at the same time, don’t totally write off the idea that maybe, in this particular situation, you aren’t the problem. You’re just in an environment that you can’t thrive in. So don’t change yourself to fit that environment. Go seek out an environment that allows you to grow and reach your full potential!!

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Slightly different take....

Your situation is more of a crisis of identity. You've spent the past decade, 1/3 of your entire life being a caretaker and it's taken its toll on you as it would on anyone. You've spent the past decade putting others above yourself and your needs and likely had little time to yourself. Many people in your shoes become incredibly exhausted and drained.

Rather than focusing on the manager, focus on discovering who you are as a person, as an individual as opposed to caretaker. You have to find a way out of that mentality and identity of caretaker. The woman you were at 23 isn't really gone, btw. Here you are recognizing that you are out of balance and that your current mindset isn't working for you. That takes some confidence and a grounded personality. You just have to reach more toward those instincts and unlearn some habits of "others above me". Time to focus on just you and start putting you first more often which will feel strange at first, but....one small step at a time and you'll regain that balance and personal identity. Once you fix your sense of self and identity, your confidence will return naturally. 

As for the manager, there will always be bad people, evil people, people who hate you just because you exist. You can't really live life where you can completely avoid them. You have to learn to accept that they exist and learn how to work around them. Unless the workplace overall is really really toxic, shift your focus on creating stronger working relationships with people who do like you and value what you bring to the table. There are more of them and they'll collectively do more to help you get ahead in life. Don't waste time and energy on those who thrive on hate and stirring the pot and avoid fixating on them.

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I think you are far, far more fabulous than you've conditioned yourself to believe. You have just one small leap to make, and I believe you'll take it when you are ready. Your self awareness is already in place--you just have a few dots to connect, and your path will be clear.

Your post contains quite a few points of good news: first, your anxiety isn't generalized, you can identify its focus.

Second, you remember, clearly, what it was like to care less about the perceptions of others. You can recall the freedom in that, and this can serve as a dangling reward to shoot for.

You can identify the exact time in your life when your confidence level changed and the events that influenced this change.

You went through a long stretch of stress in caring for others, and during that time you adopted a distraction with a minor reward: at least others might view you through a lens of generosity for your efforts.

You took up a habit of viewing yourself through this kind of observational lens. This has since become your primary lens of importance.

This may have served you during a time of scarce reward outside of that focus, but now it's gotten in the way of your enjoyment of life and your work.

More good news is that the abrasive, negative and gossipy reputation of the woman you fear at work is universally recognized by all. She's known for painting lots of people with the same brush. What you believe is others' loyalty toward her is just their own cowardice of becoming her newest target should they stop being held hostage to pretending to like her. (You know this already.)

Given that lens, consider crediting those cowards with at least an ability to recognize (and fear) pettiness. The woman targets so many people that her influence is negated. Nobody worth caring about takes her seriously, at least for long, and her real ability to sway anyone is limited. Wherever anyone has raised this with you as her latest (and temporary) target has been to get attention from you. That speaks of them, not you.

Don't take the bait by torturing yourself.

The woman will likely hang herself in time with her own lack of discretion. And nobody will remember anything that came from her.

Quiet people tend to make insecure extroverts uncomfortable because they cannot read any adoration coming from you. So? She tried to gaslight you into believing that your quiet power over her was disdained (by all?) rather than respected. She's also wrong.

You hold no inclination or desire to conflict with this woman or feed her ego. So her reasons for targeting you on occasion would be her own insecurities--and whoever doesn't recognize that by now is too dense to care about.

You will outlast this woman, and her pettiness doesn't matter to anyone who DOES matter.

Meanwhile, have you considered working with a counselor or therapist about your anxiety? I don't raise this because your post comes off as needy--just the opposite. You have already done so much foundational work on self-awareness. You might benefit from a few sessions to help you make the jump back over into the confidence camp where you once lived before.

Head high, and write more if it helps.

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No, it's not trivial.  A lot of people have anxiety and self doubts even when they deny it.  Everyone is insecure in one form or another.  No one is spared because it's reality.  

A lot of people, most people or just about everyone has something sad in their life such as  health problems, death, bad relationships, bad friendships, headaches at work, crossing paths with despicable people in their community, relatives, in-laws, money woes, endless struggle, hardship and it runs the gamut. 

All you can do is learn to take back healthy control in your life and navigate yourself wisely.  Change your trajectory even if it's in your mind!

Always believe in yourself.  Do the right thing, remain a moral person and you can look at yourself in the mirror every morning without guilt, regrets and remorse. 

Don't worry about what other people think about you because you can't control what and how other people think.  That's all on them.  You can only take control of your mind and life.  Develop a backbone and toughen up because no one else will be strong for you except you.  Tell yourself you couldn't care less what others thought about you. 

I'm sure you're a very nice person.  I'm sorry you are hurt and disappointed by people mistreating you after you've been kind to them.  My answer to that is lower your expectations of others down to nil.  In fact, I expect the very WORST in people; NOT the best in them anymore.  Whenever I expect the worst in them and they somehow surprise me once in a while by being actually nice, I'll just accept them as they are.  It's only a matter of time when they'll display their warts to me yet again so I'm rather "blah" when it comes to other people.  It helps to be jaded, wary, cynical and sarcastic because this is the way to protect yourself from disappointment, hurt and pain.  Accept human nature to be ugly most of the time and you'll develop a steel interior and exterior.  When you don't expect anything favorable in return, you'll no longer feel hurt and disappointed.  You'll consider people's unsavory characters to be their typical, dark side of human nature.  You won't be naive anymore.  Graduate from the school of hard knocks and develop street smarts.  This is how you become mentally strong.

I've learned NOT to be too nice.  Nowadays, I'm polite and peaceful; no more no less.  Don't over do it in the nice department otherwise people will take advantage of your sweetness, walk all over you like a doormat, they won't reciprocate or they'll consider you weak and vulnerable to verbal or written attacks.  It is good to remain aloof in a civil way.  Change the way you think and act in order to survive in this worldly society.  I've since been around the block in this thing called life as will you.  Don't get hurt.  Play it smart.  Play your cards right.  Become a shrewd person. 

As for your manager, just work hard and "keep your nose to the grindstone."  You can't control what she says.  Keep in mind, whenever anyone bad mouths anyone to me, I distrust them because the first thing that comes to mind is this:  "Are they bad mouthing me, too?  Am I fair game?"  Give your colleagues credit where due.  They know you're a good, very decent person and hard worker.  They are smarter than you think. 

If you're unhappy at work, I agree with others, start polishing up your resume. 

I was subject to lay off by a mean spirited supervisor during my full time night shift years at a large corporation when I was 21 years old.  I worked full time night shift, enrolled in school full time by day, financially supported my recently widowed mother and younger siblings.  (Before my late father died, he punched my mother's teeth out. 😢 )

I wasn't worldly as my co-workers so my boss despised me for it.  I was "Miss Goody Two Shoes."  Sure enough, he was the cause of my layoff.  Fortunately, I attained a new job in another department, full time day shift within 24 hours of my layoff.  When I saw my former very overweight supervisor lumbering towards me in the hallway, he was absolutely shocked 😮 to see me as I confidently strode by him in my new career apparel.  He was stunned because he thought he got rid of me permanently!  Turns out, I ended up outranking him by several levels in position and income.  Who had the last laugh now?  😛

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