How can we bounce back after dealing with a toxic boss?

This is an expanded version of a post on LinkedIn. The original was limited to a specific number of characters and, therefore, was basically a summary.


Given the description of the boss as toxic, we can assume that his (or her) actions are inappropriate, over the top, inconsistent, abusive or irrational.

Let me start by saying that there are two scenarios.

1. If you can leave the situation and find a new job, do it.

2. If you can’t leave the situation and have to “deal” with the boss, I have some suggestions.

The critical issue for me, as The Emotions Doctor, involves the emotions that the actions of a toxic boss can elicit in an employee.

In other words, how do you feel after interacting with a toxic boss?

It is important to note that the boss does not make you feel anything.  He does not create these feelings in you. 

Here is how it all works…

  • He creates a situation based on his inappropriate actions.
  • You view this situation through the lens of your experience.  This is your perception.
  • What you feel follows directly from how you perceive the situation.

Because your feelings follow from your perception and you can choose how you view the situation, you have the power to change both your perception and your feelings.

Please note that I am not blaming the employee for the feelings they experience.  The boss is always responsible for his toxic actions.  

The problem is that employees have a tendency to blame themselves.

The reason for this is that the employee may assume that the boss has a reason for acting as he does.  That reason must be the employee or what the employee has done.

If the boss’s actions are by definition toxic, the employee is not responsible for what the boss does. The employee is responsible for any action they have taken.

So, here is the solution..

Notice what you are feeling.

This could include anger, anxiety, sad, belittled, abused, mistreated, hopeless, helpless, worthless, alone, or depressed.

Take a deep breath and, when you are away from the boss, attempt to take a hard look at your situation.

Attempt to honestly assess whether you did anything wrong in your work setting.  The reason for this is that there may be a reason your boss is upset.  There is never a justification for being toxic.  If you have made a mistake, you can apologize and attempt to correct it.

Once you have decided that your boss is out of line, you need to forgive your boss.  

Forgiveness does not mean, as most people think, that you are absolving your boss of his responsibility for his actions.  Not in the least!  Forgiveness means that you are separating yourself emotionally from your boss.

Assuming that you, for now, are staying in a work setting with a toxic boss, your forgiving him frees you from being impacted by his toxicity and allows you to continue to function at your job.  Someone once said that, in situations such as this, “The bees (your boss) keep swarming but their stingers have been removed so they are no longer a threat.”

Next, you might need to forgive yourself.

“What”, you say, “I did nothing wrong.”


But, you might have a tendency to get on your own case for letting your toxic boss get to you and disrupt your life.

When you forgive yourself, you are simply acknowledging your emotional humanity and that you were emotionally influenced by this boss.  This is very understandable.

And, by the way, while you are learning to separate yourself emotionally from your boss, you may still find that you react to him.  Relax, this will continue to happen for a while.

Once you become emotionally free of him, you will be able to listen to what he says, NOT HOW HE SAYS IT (his toxicity) and if he says anything that is informative to you, you can use this to improve yourself until you can move on.

There isn’t room here to explain all the emotions your might be experiencing.  However, I have discussed all of these feelings in detail on this blog.  You can access all of my 200+ posts by category and title by clicking on the Index tab above

Dealing with a toxic boss will take time but it can be done.