Understanding Glimmers and Mitigating Triggers

In June 2017, I was lying on a hospital bed – fearful, burned out and hopeless. For three and a half years, I had been tormented by a bully in my workplace. I had started to develop severe anxiety. My body was in constant fight-flight-or-freeze mode. My bully would nudge my desk, yell at me, berate me in meetings and accuse me of having interpersonal relationships with clients.


My journey led me to create Bullyology and establish the Upstander Academy, where I grew personally and helped others do the same. However, when I look back on that challenging period that lasted nearly four years, I’m amazed I endured it.


Upon reflection, I discovered “glimmers” of hope and light amid the darkness. It was during my darkest moments that I turned to practices like meditation, mindfulness, and a strong support network of healers to aid in my recovery from PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) acquired during the workplace bullying.


In my time off from the Oil & Gas project, I visited Bali (which was only a 2hour flight from Darwin), immersing myself in healing modalities and retreats to find solace and build the strength to return to work.


I frequently revisit the adversity I faced and delve into the lessons learned, which encompass finding those “glimmers” and embracing healing practices that have since shaped my life.

What are glimmers?

Glimmers are a concept coined by social worker Deb Dana, and they are essentially the opposite of triggers. They are micro-moments that make us feel happier, hopeful, safe, and connected.

In the midst of a very depressing work week, if you’ve ever gone on a walk to clear your head and caught a brilliant sunset that’s all shades of orange and violet and pink, and you’ve immediately felt like maybe life is worth living after all— that’s a glimmer.

If you’re sitting in bed feeling like you’ve got mountains of reports to write and hand in and a deadline that’s approaching like Doomsday, when your dachshund suddenly ambles and she fits her head in the crook of your arm and curls up like a croissant— all of a sudden, the world is beautiful again, and your pet is a glimmer.

If you’re at the family dinner table, laughing and making jokes with your parents and siblings and listening to old retellings of childhood stories, and everything feels wonderfully lovely— that’s a glimmer.

Glimmers are all around us, in simple, everyday things and in people who feel like light. In heartfelt messages, in a hobby, in an act of kindness that restores your faith in humanity— often, you can make your own glimmers.

As the name itself suggests, a glimmer is like a ray of hope, a faint, wavering light at the end of a tunnel. It exists as a reminder to keep going, to keep moving forward, to not let the darkness bog you down.

Finding Glimmers in the Workplace

You’re probably thinking to yourself as you read this, that finding the energy to keep going is easier said than done. Especially if you’re always surrounded by to-do lists, mountains of work to finish and a high risk toxic workplace culture.

You can still find brief moments of hope and reasons to go on, in little glimmers you make for yourself.

You can keep a gratitude journal, and record everything you’re grateful for, at your workplace: whether it’s the bonuses, your team, or maybe even just the coffee machine!

Give yourself short breaks, where you can do quick mindfulness exercises, stretching, or even a few minutes of deep breathing to refresh your mind.

Decorate your space, and spice it up with some of your own personality! Put up some motivational quotes from your favourite author, put up some photos of your loved ones, hang up some artwork from your nieces and nephews— they’ll make you smile on a random Tuesday.

You can celebrate your achievements, even the minor ones, in small ways to cheer yourself on!


So, even if it’s a very busy work week— holding on to the little things does make a difference!


Using Glimmers to Mitigate Workplace Trauma and Triggers

Sometimes, though, mountains of reports to hand in are the least of your worries in the workplace.

If you’re having to deal with snide remarks disguised as banter, subtle intimidation tactics, racial slurs, and other factors that constitute a toxic workplace— a gratitude journal as a glimmer isn’t going to cut it.

A glimmer in a toxic workplace is a supportive co-worker, who’ll stand up for you and help you fight the toxicity. A glimmer while dealing with a toxic workplace is in therapy or counseling sessions, in self-care rituals, and in mentorship that can offer guidance, encouragement, and a different perspective on your career.

It is in setting clear boundaries to protect yourself from further bullying, including assertively communicating your limits and reporting incidents where necessary.

A glimmer is in positive affirmations that can help you boost your self-esteem and resilience.

A glimmer is in legal support, in support groups, and when things seem irredeemably toxic, a glimmer is in a change of environment to a healthier and more supportive workplace culture.


It’s important to acknowledge that healing from workplace bullying can be a challenging process, and seeking professional help or support is often crucial. Additionally, focusing on these “glimmers” can gradually help rebuild confidence and resilience in the face of workplace trauma.


Become the Glimmer!

In its entirety, being an Upstander is about being a glimmer. It is about becoming a ray of hope for someone else, about standing up for someone and helping revive their faith in humanity simply by being who you are.

An Upstander is all about upholding empathy, ethics, and equality. Becoming an Upstander is about looking, listening, learning, leading, and loving.

A colourful sunset serves as a reminder that the world is beautiful, but a co-worker who stands up for you, a friend who tells you that you are worth so much more than what a bully will have you believe, a colleague who challenges someone who talks down to you— those are glimmers that serve as a reminder that the world is worth living in, a healthy workplace is worth working in and growing in and blossoming in.


Be an Upstander. Be the glimmer you want to see in the world.

For more information on how to nurture and reset your workplace culture check out