I was a competitive epee fencer for 25 years. I studied sports and psychology during my career and today I work in training, coaching and consulting.
My specialties are improving mental and physical quality of life and successful aging. I also advise companies on corporate health management from a holistic perspective.
Having lived in an extremely toxic work environment in competitive sports for the last eight years of my career, discrimination and bullying were unfortunately part of my daily experiences. Coaches and officials who were not up to their job and function used exclusion and character assassination as a means to hide their own shortcomings and those of their students.
In those eight years, I experienced it all. Discrimination based on my sexual orientation, which I was unwilling to hide, or in the last four years, based on my age. My federation withdrew my promotion status as one of the leading fencers in Germany, with the reason that they wanted to give younger fencers a chance. This is clearly not a reflection of the idea of performance, but rather my age was used as a further opportunity to “legally dispose of” me, so to speak.
First of all, it is really hard to get help as a person affected IN a system. That is why it is extremely important to get help and even professional help from outside. There is no shame or weakness in recognizing that you are being systematically destroyed in a system, because that is all these behaviors are aimed at. It is important to keep in mind that people who engage in these behaviors do so because they usually do not have any real competencies, either on a substantive, personal, or character level.
Machiavelli already described this in the motto attributed to him: “Divide – and rule!” If you manage to play groups of people off against each other, they are easier to lead because they are mainly concerned with themselves but not with content or results. This is why teams where bullying and discrimination are the order of the day are highly unproductive.
It is important to recognize that discussions and own approaches to solutions are not wanted by these persons. Especially as the person affected usually has to act out of a dependency.
It is important to free oneself from this dependency. The first step is to get help from outside. There are contact points that specialize in counseling victims of bullying, which you can turn to (even free of charge). Here you can get help and concrete instructions on how to free yourself from the dependency.
Often it is of great importance to confront one’s personal fears and to emotionally distance oneself from them and from the aggressor. This includes being aware of the mechanisms the aggressor uses to hurt and devalue you.
At the end of this chain, it is not uncommon to change jobs or the social environment in which one is exposed to this destructive behavior. It is important to recognize for oneself that one is not leaving as a “loser”, but that one is leaving an environment that is not geared towards the personal growth and well-being of people.
Make sure that people who are not good for you disappear from your life. Even if that means that your circle of friends becomes smaller or you have to change jobs. Look ahead and look for positive people who will make you feel good and allow you to develop your personality.
The sea. It covers most of this planet, but far too little is known about it. As a diver and diving instructor, you very quickly see the true qualities of a person underwater. You find yourself in a unique and fascinating, yet for us actually hostile environment. You have to know what you are doing, know and respect the limits of yourself and others and you have to take care of each other.
The rules are easy to understand and sometimes it takes a lot of inner size and character to put your own fun on the back burner because your dive buddies would not have the skills to survive a drift dive on a dangerous outer reef. Then you just choose another dive where everyone has fun and maybe learns something exciting within their limits.
Every funny moment has its own little peculiarities. I don’t want to create a hit list.