4 Tips for Getting Over That Bad Boss (and Other Lousy Work Experiences)

“Without mindful awareness, the shadows of your past may haunt your present.”
– Multiple attributions, including Reuben Lowe and John Reyes

What a truthful statement! Do you know people who allow the shadows of their past haunt their present?

We guard ourselves because of a former boss who was untrustworthy. We are skeptical of new teammates’ motives because of one self-centered coworker at our last job. We are wary of our company’s leadership because of the poor leaders at a former employer.

We let one lousy boss, one bad company, one really disappointing experience shadow every potential friendship, team, or employer moving forward. We can’t really enjoy the present because we’re too busy lamenting the past. If that sounds like you (and I’ve been there myself!), here are four tips for moving forward without the past hanging over you.


They may not deserve it. They may not have asked for it. They may not think they did anything wrong. It really doesn’t matter. Forgive them.

Let it go.

It’s therapeutic for a time to be able to talk about the past…all the crazy things a boss said or did, how badly you were hurt, how angry you are, how glad you are that it’s OVER. However, you can’t get over it if you keep bringing it up. Let it go so you can move on.

Focus on what you learned.

Put that bad experience to good use by focusing on what you learned from it. Bad boss? You’ve learned many things you will avoid doing when you’re the boss and many things that you want to do that your old boss never did.

Look toward the future.

Don’t keep looking back, comparing every new boss to your untrustworthy one or every new employer to the lousy one. Instead, look forward and be thankful for your current opportunities that allow you to put what you’ve learned to good use.

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  • Arleu says:

    I really know how bad it is and what i have to say is, the more we worry about it, the more we will be afected by it. No every boss is such a bad person, but the most disrupt someome just because the way they overseas and take desicions. To get it over I believe we should not consider too much when we receive some complain or even when the thuth is said and we don’t like it .

  • Lil says:

    It is so true and important to forgive, let go and move on….but so hard to do. It has been two years since I left a job with an agency I was with for 10 years. I ended up getting pushed out of my job while the rest of the team were fired, pushed out or quit due to horrible working conditions (two of the employees won wrongful dismissful suits against the agency). I work for a diffferent and much better place now…but I see my former boss at community functions and it makes me sick everytime I see her and the agency. When I don’t see or hear of them, I’m fine…so how do I deal with the times I do see her or the agency name? It brings up so much old emotion (anger being the most intense). Did I mention that it was an agency that is suppose to “help” women in abusive situations….ironic that the boss was one of the most abusive people I have ever worked for.

    • Linda Sasser says:

      Lil, you are so right. Encountering people who have treated you (and others) badly in the past can bring up all those emotions and memories you’ve worked so hard to get past. When I struggle with encounters like this I’m reminded of the quote that says something along the lines of, “Treat people with respect even if they don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” I want to be proud of how I handle myself around people who have wronged me, and maybe even more importantly, I want to make my current and former teammates proud. People are always watching how we handle ourselves in these types of situations. When we handle ourselves with grace and professionalism, we encourage others to do the same. Being friendly, polite, or saying a kind word or two (even to our “enemies”) isn’t always easy but it is something that, looking back, I don’t think we ever come to regret.