Five Tips to Honor MLK

21795142623_61033c702e_bTick tock…tick tock… time has turned into years and years have unfolded improvements that Martin Luther King was greatly responsible for in the mid-1960s.  The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act for African Americans changed the laws in America so there would be repercussions for discrimination of race or color.  So now we have a kinder and more equal social justice in the United States.  Ummmm…I don’t think so!!! The EEOC reported that there were over 31,000 charges of racial discrimination reported in 2015.  Senator John Lewis (D-GA) spoke out recently and tweeted, “We must never, ever give up the right to protest for what is right, what is good, and what is necessary.”  If we choose to strive for justice and a kinder world, I have five tips that honor the “great work” of Martin Luther King.

First, be a “light” and don’t meet evil or darkness on its level.  Fighting with people who are bullies or are acting badly will only bring your own spirit and your energy down.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” said Martin Luther King.  He strived for peace in non-violent ways. Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person.   Martin Luther King and his followers began to boycott the Montgomery bus public transit system in Alabama.  It was a huge success because most of the bus riders were African American and the boycott created an enormous financial deficit for the company.  Consider how you can make a non-violent action to stand up to injustice. For example, I speak, write, mentor, and I am a 27-year HR expert on workplace bullying and discrimination.  I do this in a compelling manner, but the tone of my actions is non-violent.

Second, learn as much as you can about discrimination so you can become more empowered and educated. Unfortunately, workplace bullying is not illegal, but discrimination is illegal.  With the exception that “retaliation” for reporting discrimination is illegal if a person has initiated discrimination charges to an agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) has lost power over the years, today we have organized groups who have the ability to enforce civility in the workplace, but not enough is being done to fix hostile work environments. Why not foster your skills and learn more about your rights to a safe and non-hostile work environment in my blog articles on my website.

Third, if you are enduring harmful behavior from others or you need help to speak your “truth,” why not find a mentor, spiritual leader or a life coach to support you.  I wrote an article, “Five Tips Before You Hire a Life Coach” to share guidance in finding ethical and competent Life Coaches.

Fourth, consider seeking legal counsel if you have questions about discrimination because of your race, color, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy, national origin, you are over 40 years old, gender identity, disabilities, genetic information or religion.  For about $20.00 a month, you can seek a lawyer’s advice at Legal Shield.  That is less than the cost of going out to dinner for most people.    An HR professional with expertise in workplace bullying and discrimination may become an essential expert to help you.  When an employee understands their “rights,” they can pursue justice or a fair outcome.   An experienced HR consultant could possibly save you a lot of money by avoiding costly legal fees.  Don’t get me wrong—employment attorneys can be powerful allies, but they will most likely charge more in fees.  I am suggesting that you do seek an attorney if you feel compelled to do so, but why not let an HR consultant support you at a lower cost?   Then you can reach out to an employee attorney later on if needed.

Fifth, be an advocate for social justice and fair treatment of others.  For example, a friend of mine recently saw a Caucasian man castigating an African American woman after she walked out of a grocery store.  He yelled derogatory comments at this lady accusing her of being lazy and that she should not be a drain on society.  Perhaps this woman needed to be on food stamps to support her family.  My friend saw the need to intervene and acted like she knew this woman.  This discouraged the angry man who walked away to his vehicle.  Thanks to my friend, this woman was able to get to her car with her children, with only tears running down her face.  There is no telling what could have happened if there had been no intervention to help this lady get to her car with the assurance that someone cared about her.

There are many ways to honor the late Martin Luther King.  We can all be “extensions” of his advocacy to end discrimination and make this a better world.  Think of ways that you can help positively eliminate injustice and take action.  Follow me on Facebook where I share tips to stand up to workplace bullying and discrimination to executive teams, global leaders, political teams, government leaders, attorneys, mental health professionals, and employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find Strength When You are Being Abused

Dawn and the TreeHave you ever noticed a newly planted tree that has been staked by a landscaper?  You may think that the stakes will support the tree in the event of heavy winds.  In most cases, the newly planted trees do not need to be staked.  It’s an unnecessary “extra” step that some landscapers perform.  Unless the tree is super “top heavy”, most newly planted trees do not need staking.  Why?

Trees have a hormone called “auxin”, which helps play a key role in the direction of a plants growth. When a plant is staked, it can affect the caliper and taper of a plant—basically it can affect the tree’s growth.    Where am I going with this?  I like to compare “growth” of humans and trees because both share one thing—strength through adversity.  I am also a horticulturist and love plants/people.

When the winds blow the trees around, the trees are busy producing Auxin hormones to help it become stronger.  As humans, you can also become stronger if you look at your negative experiences and conquer the “lessons”.    Discern on the “gift” each lesson gave you.  Do you need to love yourself more?  Show yourself more respect? Set healthier boundaries in your life?

You become more empowered when you see the negative “patterns” in your life that are repeating themselves over and over.  Perhaps you are attracting more people in your life that treat you badly or you always make bad decisions.  Most scientists and others will tell you that everything is “energy”.   Like energy attracts “like” energy.  Pay attention to the thoughts in your head.  Up to 90% of your belief system is in your subconscious.  You may have learned to give and give to others (with no boundaries) until it hurt, from a parent.  Perhaps you were told you would not amount to anything in life because a parent was using “reverse psychology” to motivate you.

Without realizing it, today, you are attracting “patterns” of lessons you need to master for your own growth.  Yes—they can be very painful.  Who wants to be mistreated?  No one.  It’s up to you to take 100% responsibility for your life.  When you take responsibility to get the help you need—your life can change for the better.  Let me share a story with you.  I was in a long-term alcoholic relationship 20 years ago.  I went to an open AA meeting for help and noticed everyone was very happy and smiling.  But, I felt broken and could not handle all the emotions in this small room.  I quickly ran out and ended up in a large cleaning closet in this building.  Closing the closet door behind me, I was mortified and began crying.

First, I could not escape the “happy” people and second, I was in a cleaning closet for crying out loud!  I heard the message, “you belong in that meeting room” and I slowly walked back in that room for the moral support I needed.  Everyone pretended they did not see me in the cleaning closet.   I realized I had a long way to go to help myself become healthier and whole again.  I had become “sicker” than the narcissistic alcoholic and needed help.

I was dealing with a narcissistic alcoholic in my life who nearly killed me in his “blackouts”.  I had fought him off me many times and I knew he would kill me if I did not get help.  He was very strong and it took all my energy to fight him off me.  He was in denial.   I was truly “sick” and it was affecting the quality of my life.  Working 12 – 14 hours daily was my escape from this madness.  I became a big “overachiever” in the Air Force.  It was my escape.

After the open AA meeting, one of the scruffiest men I had ever met in my life, asked me to follow him to his house to meet his wife.  There was something about that man that made me trust him.  I followed behind his old beaten up car.  Suspecting we were about to arrive at a trailer park, I mentally told myself it would be alright.  The house I arrived at was a multi-million dollar home at Mexico Beach in North Florida.  I put my hands over my face in disgrace and embarrassment again.  I had gotten another good lesson in one evening.  Never judge a book by its cover. This man was not only very wise—he was very wealthy too.

This beautiful home was the house I passed every day while walking on the beach.  I had found solitude and grounding in walking in the sand and breathing the salt air.

Well, the scruffy man who came to my rescue was a retired Army helicopter pilot and his wife was an accomplished author.  Lessons!  I tell you.  When you ask for help, whether through praying or with intention, you will get what you need, but not always how you expect it to come.

I only had a few months with this man and the open AA group as I was in the Air Force and about to transfer to the Black Hills in South Dakota.   I was open to helping myself and it came in a peculiar way.  Be open to getting the help you deserve.  Take 100% accountability in becoming healthier and happier in your life.  Claim your personal power by breaking the patterns of negativity in your life.  Slow down and listen to your “inner knowing” that is telling you he or she is not the “right one”.  Trust the gut-feeling that you should walk away from a situation that will dis-empower you. Say “no” to narcissistic people and keep walking to a more healthy and empowered life.  Get professional help if you need it.  You will find a way to afford it or you can reach out to www.211.org, which is a United Way program that offers many resources in each state that can support you on your journey.  You deserve to healthy and happy!

If you need consulting or coaching to support you becoming healthier and more empowered–reach out to me at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

Workplace Bullying Scare Tactics–Three Tips to Empower You

I talked to a former government employee recently who thought she had “stacked evidence” of disciplinary violations against her from her managers. After talking to this employee, it turns out that her management had set up strategies to scare her as a “whistleblower”. Often times, bully managers will make up “false charges” on an employee to scare them, run them away from their job or discredit them.  BullyWhen you are a conscientious “whistleblower”, you can almost expect retaliation because it exposes the wrong-doer.

Most employees are not HR employees and they don’t know the guidelines, laws, and protocols that support a healthy workplace environment or their rights as an employee.  I was smiling on my end of the phone–because everything was handled in a very unprofessional manner from her managers and from an HR perspective–this employee had nothing to worry about in regards to disciplinary action. In fact–she now had my HR advice to support defamation of character on her part and mental/physical harm that has been done to her.  It’s nice to “arm” employees and teach them their “rights” so they can stand up to workplace bullying. This employee will be working with an attorney and was feeling more empowered after our session.

So, how do you know how to transmute “false charges”’ against you if you have been bullied in the workplace or you are receiving retaliation because you are a “whistleblower”?  Here are three tips:

First, if you know how to research your work’s policies, guidelines, manuals, handbooks etc., start studying them to learn more about your rights.  For example, if you work in the Veteran Affairs (VA), you could research the VA’s handbooks and directives by going to http://www.va.gov/vapubs/  or you could research it on the web by looking for information that governs your workplace.

If you work for the Veteran Affairs, you can research disciplinary action for employees.  You may find information such as the VA disciplinary table, it falls under VA Handbook 5021/15 and is called “Employee/Management Relations”.  Why could this table be important to you?  Because it tells you all the disciplinary range of penalties for stated offenses.  This is important, because if you have been charged with something that is not on this table, you have knowledge of possibly being falsely charged with an offense.

If you have been falsely charged with an offense that is on this table, you can cite this table and the nature of offense when you work with an attorney, HR expert or another professional.  You may be able to use this as proof of bullying or retaliation, especially if you have filed charges against your workplace with the Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.EEOC.gov).

Second, if you don’t have the time or the energy to do your own research on regulations etc., consider hiring a human resources (HR) professional if you are getting nowhere with your own HR department or there is no HR department where you work.  The money you may save by hiring an HR expert could offset the emotional and financial damage of your workplace bullying situation.  You can also hire an attorney and I would recommend it if you feel the need to hire a legal expert.  Often times, the HR expert will cost less money than an attorney.  In addition, they are able to provide an HR technical review of your workplace bullying situation.  The HR expert is able to review and analyze the facts and documentation you have in regards to your situation.  When I hired my attorney to handle my disability discrimination and retaliation cases, I was able to provide him with great documentation, that ultimately allowed me to settle with the VA and refuse to sign a “gag order” to keep quiet about my story and to help others who deal with workplace bullying.

Third, when you deal with cowardly bullies, they may be desperate to defame you, fire you, or ruin your credibility. It does not matter how strong you think you are—everyone has a breaking point and bullies will do their best to find the weak link in your defenses.  It can take a serious toll on your health.  It’s important to find avenues of relaxation that resonate with you.  You need to focus on everything that is good in your life.  When your mind wanders on any negativity, be sure to bring it back to “neutral” or a more positive thought. Our thoughts form our belief system.  You are worthy of claiming your “personal power” and having a healthy work environment.

In 2016, I will be traveling across the U.S. and speaking about workplace bullying and empowerment in the workplace.  If your organization would like to hire me for speaking, be sure to check out:  http://dawnmariewestmoreland.com/speaking

 

 

 

 

The Formula for Recovering From Workplace Bullying

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You hear about it and read about it in the media, all the time. Workplace bullying is increasing according to who is keeping statistics. It’s a known fact that the damage to the ‘victim’ is harmful and creates many hardships for the ‘bullied’ and their loved ones. When I became a Veteran Affairs (VA) Whistle-blower, I alleged nepotism (illegal hiring of family and friends) and other prohibited personnel practices. I turned in numerous personnel and was retaliated for my actions. I was put on administrative leave for about 100 days, denied the right to seek medical care as a severely disabled veteran, I landed in the Mental Health ward after two years of horrific bullying, and my paycheck was cut-off when I refused to go back to a hostile work environment. This created a financial hardship and my whole economic portrait was much compromised. The life I knew was changed in a short time.  I also experienced having poor credit to boot because I could not afford my large house that I had worked so hard for and cherished.

Losing my old ‘self” was the greatest thing that has happened to me. Back in those days, I “bought into” the victim role. I felt very unsafe and insecure with myself.  These days, I often pass the road that would take me to my former job location. I smile each time and then I say ‘thank you” to the bullies who tried to break me and destroy my reputation.   For if it was not for my former bullies, I may not be as liberated as I am today.   My bullies were awesome teachers! I had to work on myself to get this far with my ‘liberation’. I have deep gratification for my workplace bullying experience. Sometimes our ‘gifts’ come in ugly wrapping paper. That’s exactly what happed in my case. Let me share three tips of how I claimed my ‘personal power’.

First, you get to decide if you are going to be a ‘victim’ of your workplace bullying. You may never get the results you think you want from workplace bullying, but you may get what you need to be happier. For example, if you end up leaving the job, you may find a more respectful position or even strive to be an entrepreneur. I have never been happier to work for myself and I love my boss! Sometimes it seems scary to leave a job you are comfortable with and have known for years. When you are striving to do your soul’s purpose on this earth, you may get an uncomfortable nudge to move forward and get in alignment with the work you should be doing–the work you love and can’t wait to do because it feels so ‘alive’.

Second, look at your experience as a lesson. What did you learn from it? Did you learn that you need to have more confidence or standup for your rights? Was the job or the position a ‘bad fit’? Perhaps you learned that you need to value yourself more and work in a job that is better suited for you. There are always lessons in each of our experiences. I believe we get to learn some great lessons from our bullies. They can teach us so much about ourselves and what we need to do to have a better life. Yes—they may make you anxious and depressed with their actions, but you can decide to not be a ‘victim’ and take all the appropriate action you need to stand up to them, leave the work place or find a solution that makes you happier.  Maybe you learned that you needed to learn how to get empowered and stop relying on unnecessary anti-anxiety or anti-depressant pills. NOTE: Always follow your doctor’s advice on medical care.

Third, bullying can take a serious toll on your confidence and self-esteem. You have to understand that you must believe in yourself more than others believe in you. No one can breathe confidence in you. There are many modalities out there that will help you find peace, confidence, and help you to find your own intuitive ‘gifts’.   You may find that exercising, receiving energy work, reading self-help books, taking empowerment courses or seeking reputable help from a coach, counselor or clergy member to be highly beneficial in helping you to heal. This will take some time, but it is so worth it! When you conscientiously invest in your own well-being, you will get results. I wrote a blog, “Five Tips Before Hiring a Life Coach” at Five Tips to Hire the Right Life Coach   Invest in yourself and also be gentle on yourself. Sometimes our worst bullies can be ourselves if we ‘beat up’ on ourselves. Another thing—if you are spending money on things that don’t empower you, that can back fire on you.   I know of a lady that spends endless money on clothes, trips and fun things that she enjoys. While there is nothing wrong with this, she complains she has no money to hire a coach/consultant for her own workplace bullying case. Hmmmmmm! Do you think her priorities are good ones or could she re-think her priorities? It’s sad, because she is being bullied for blowing the ‘whistle’ on her workplace, but could really benefit from an HR consultant or a coach that deals with workplace bullying. You always get to decide and make choices in your life. You must decide wisely or it may backfire on you.

If you need some help or advice, I have 22 years of Human Resources experience, a Masters in Management/Human Resources, I am retired from the United States Air Force, and I am regularly featured on the radio or in magazines for tips on overcoming ‘dis-empowerment’ and ‘workplace bullying’. Today, I am an anti-bullying speaker, personal power coach, author (Empowered Whistleblower: A Practical and Spiritual Path to Personal Power”, and an HR consultant.  I ‘settled’ with the Veteran Affairs in March 2014 and without a “gag-order” to keep me quiet and sharing my story to help others.  It bring me great pleasure to help empower people.  You can find out more about me at www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

Kind People Can Stand Up to Bullying

According to The Bully Institute, http://www.workplacebullying.org/tag/bullying-statistics/ the person who gets targeted the most in the workplace is the person who is considered kind and compassionate. Yikes, what if that is you in the workplace? Well, it was me when I worked in the Midatlantic Consolidated Patient Accounting Center (MACPAC), which is a Veteran Affairs organization in West Asheville, North Carolina.  Years ago, when I worked there,  I was asked by my former management to run an employee assistance program that would help MACPAC employees when they had economic issues that would come up. I was known for my “humanitarian” skills and for caring about other people.

Even though I consider myself a kind and compassionate person, I am a no-nonsense person when it comes to bullying or any kind of mistreatment in the workplace. Everyone is entitled to work in a safe environment and where they are treated with respect. After working 20 years in the Air Force as a female, I learned to be assertive when needed. That skill has come in handy many times in my life. I have never had a problem in being a “nice” person, but you must do so with healthy boundaries too. Let me explain. While I am a nice person, I held my bullies accountable and reported them to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and “settled” in March 2014. I held my “ground” and had great documentation—I “settled” with the Veteran Affairs without a “gag order” that would prevent me from telling my story. How often do you hear about that? You can be nice and you can also stand in your “personal power”.

Your presence and your demeanor tells everyone how you feel about yourself. If you carry yourself with dignity and grace, that is the way you are generally perceived by others. Bullies, who generally have low self-esteem, can pick up your energy and know that you may be an easy target to harass. They generally go after the people they deem as weak.  I realize that there are many kind and “sensitive” souls who have dealt with hardships in their life—divorce, death, bullying, etc. It’s part of your own journey to become your greatest self, but only if you learn your lessons or experience self-growth from these experiences.

If your old “stories” are “owning” you, instead of you “owning” your old stories, then it’s time to heal your past. Nurturing old wounds and not healing them is a sure way to stay small and stuck in your life. You must let go of your “hurtful” past so you can fully live the life you deserve! You can reach out to a trusted clergy person, a coach, mentor, therapist or anyone who is reputable and will help you heal your past. If you want to be truly “free” in your life, you must forgive the perpetrators in your life and let go of your old “stories”. You are forgiving them for your own “healthy” reasons—to move on with your life and heal.

I spent many years dealing with self-loathing and insecurities because I was molested as a young child. After I dealt with forgiving the perpetrator and working on my own self-development, I really found my “inner strength” and began to realize I could now help others because I am on the “other” side. I will admit—it was not easy, but it was worth it! In the past, I have lived in fancy houses and had many materialistic things in my life, but I was not happy. I had attracted an “alcoholic” into my life and my home felt like a “prison” back in those days.   I did not realize at that time, that I was looking through the “lens” of a victim and someone who had not found their “personal power”.   I had attracted many negative things in my life because I had felt “hopeless” and very insecure back then. That has changed, because I took 100% charge of my life and began to “cut” out negative people out of my life as much as possible. I carefully discern on who I want as friends today and it really makes a big difference for me. Today, I have never had more “freedom” and peace in my life. You deserve it too!

Let me share a webinar, which is now a video, I made about “Commanding Respect in Your Life”. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oV12-pzac4   More free resources at  www.DawnMarieWestmoreland.com

 

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Are You Your Own Biggest Bully? Five Tips for “Overcoming”

We are always hearing about how others are bullied. This can happen at work, at home, or just about anywhere. It is a fact and it does exist in our society. However, I believe that often we can become our own worst enemy or bully. You may not even realize that you are your own worst bully. If you are sabotaging yourself by thinking small or living small, you may be your own worst enemy. I often get asked how did I overcome severe bullying and other tragic events in my life. I have dealt with bullying, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse, but it does not own me anymore. I was sick and tired, of being sick and tired and I learned how to overcome all of it.

The first tip I offer is to take 100% accountability in your life. You must rescue yourself and believe in yourself more than others believe in you. Complaining to others about how bad things are in your life does not solve the problem. You must learn how to “own “your story, not your story “own “you. Self-care is vital for you to empower yourself. That means eating right, exercising and filling your life with things that nurture your body and soul. This could be meditation, yoga, walking, reading or any activity that really nourishes you.
The second tip I’ll share with you is to take a look at all the negativity around you. Are you contributing to it? Are the people you surround yourself with positive and nurturing people? If you are around a lot of negativity, that will keep you stuck at the lowest level possible in your life. Think about your thoughts. Are they positive or negative? If they are negative, you will find that attracts other negative people and negative events in your life. This does not mean walking around with the permanent silly smile on your face, but really engaging in conversation and actions that propel you forward in a healthier life.
Third, many successful people get ahead by investing in themselves. For example, I hired a business coach to move ahead. My business coach has a business coach. Her business coach has a business coach and so on and so on. We all believe in ourselves and want to get ahead in a successful way. What can you be doing to invest in yourself at this time? Is it getting more education, training, hire a professional to help you move ahead in your life? Quality does not cost. It pays. Be sure to invest in yourself so you are moving in the right direction of your life.
Fourth, life is about choices. No one has a gun at our heads stating we must stay in a job we hate, to stay in an unhealthy relationship or put up with people treating us badly. Remember you can always consider other options that would be better for you. There are plenty of resources out there that can help anyone. If you stay in an unhealthy job or situation, it is your choice. We have no one to blame, but ourselves if we are not making wise choices for ourselves. Is it really worth your happiness and health to remain in a bad situation? We always have choices in our life. Be careful not to give away your personal power by depending too much on others all the time. There is a time and place for when we need help from others. Be wise and remember all the answers are truly within us. Everyone has an opinion, but only you know what is best for you.  Make the choice to “listen” to your own voice and thoughts.
Fifth, our thoughts form our belief system. Is your thoughts constructive and positive? Are they serving you well and moving you forward in your life? We get to choose our thoughts too. We can also change or shift our thoughts if they are not serving us well. If you find this hard to do, you may find that hypnosis or hypnotherapy or life coaching can help you to overcome bad habits, bad patterns or negativity in your life. Life coaching and hypnotherapy helped me to overcome many of the tragedies in my life. It can help you gain confidence, self-love, self-respect and break through all that is holding you back from moving fast forward, in a happier manner. We all truly deserve this in our life.
Empowerment Speaker

“Break-Free” Agent Dawn Marie Westmoreland shares about “overcoming” your old stories and how to “own” them.

The more you can master the steps, the better you will feel about yourself, your energy levels will increase, and you will notice that you attract like-minded people in your life based on the energy you project. Always ask yourself, “what is the best thing I can be doing for myself at this time?” When you step into your own personal power, you realize that you are no longer bothered by your old story because you now are “owning” your story. Life looks a whole lot better too. Let’s release what does not serve us best and embrace 2015 with everything that serves us well and enhances our lives.